How Amateurs Tackle Torrey Pines South — Home of 2021 US Open

Torrey Pines South Course paragliders

It’s a big week for golf in San Diego. Torrey Pines South is one of those bucket list courses that captures our attention with its expansive Pacific views and paragliders decorating it’s coastline. This year it is the home of the 2021 US Open, and it will be equally difficult as it is beautiful. 

The course hasn’t hosted the US Open since Tiger famously won in the 19th hole Monday playoff on a broken leg in 2008 against Rocco Mediate. Tiger’s -1 scorecard can give us an idea of just how difficult this course will play this week under US Open conditions…For comparison, the winning scorecard for the Farmers Insurance Open averages around -8 to -15, which makes the US Open conditions roughly 10x harder than the “average championship condition”. Woof. 

Is it even the US Open if we don’t discuss in detail about how tough the rough will be to hit out of? Players can basically expect the equivalent of a two stroke penalty if they land in the thick kikuyu that makes up most of the fairways and rough along the 7,802 yard loop from the Championship tees. Note to the pros: avoid the 68 acres of rough… or if you are going to miss the fairway, aim for any of the 54 bunkers for a safer bet. In common fashion, this year’s US Open will once again be a game of accuracy and distance in order to take home the silverware.🏆

How Amateurs Stack up:

Us mere mortals might not be able to experience the humbling US Open conditions of Torrey Pines, but even in normal conditions this course will steal a few strokes from any player. The course itself sees roughly 92,000 rounds a year from players all over the world—Arccos members have logged over 2,000 rounds on one of the country's top public courses. The course's public status is what makes it so accessible (particularly for San Diego residents), which is a rare feature among championship courses played on the PGA tour. 

The Arccos members that have tackled the South course have a 9 HCP average and their scores average over 88 strokes. Looking at the scoring breakdown across the course, it is a lot easier to lose strokes than gain them even for these single digit handicappers:

  • Birdies 7.5%
  • Par 29.5%
  • Bogey+ 62.99%

Mapping Out Strokes Gained Lost

While it’s not uncommon to see discrepancies on HCP scoring for courses, the South course has eight holes that either helped or hindered the Arccos members. The sneakiest hole for Arccos golfers was hole #2. This is the 6th hardest hole for players where they lost on average .77 strokes but the scorecard has it marked as a 15 (the fourth easiest hole).

Here is our breakdown of which holes played the hardest for amateur players:

Torrey Pines Hardest Holes

Approaching the Greens

When comparing the performance of the average 9 hcp against the avg performance of players with a round on the South course, approach shots are the dealbreakers across the board. Many things remained the same like distance off the tee, but accuracy off the tee drops .3 strokes and GIR% drops 6.5%. 

While we generally prefer proximity to the pin as a more accurate measurement than GIR%, Torrey Pines has an average of 5521.89 sq feet for their greens vs 5403.48 sq feet on average. With a spare 120 sq. ft. on average for your target, it is safe to assume that approach is critical when heading for the pin, because the size of green doesn’t help these players. 

So the combination of accuracy off the tee can really hamper players if they don’t have a strong approach strategy. Looking at US Open conditions, missing the fairway and landing in the rough that is deep enough to lose small children in… might mean that players focus on control over distance once they get their stride. But when comparing the 2008 field to the players we’ll see this weekend—only 13 golfers averaged over 300 yards OTT thirteen years ago, and this year there will be 66 golfers with a 300+ average OTT. Short hitters will give these players a run for their money with strong iron work, and some serious precision around the greens. 

With the US Open falling on Father’s Day weekend, it’s only appropriate to point out that the course’s original designers were father and son (William P. Bell and William F. Bell). Want to give Dad tour level stats into his game performance? Check out our Arccos Caddie Bundle which is the preferred Arccos product choice for our tour players. Approved by the USGA and the R&A for competitions as well as a number of other tools to help you master your game.