Course Rater Confidential: What are the best holes at Torrey Pines?

the 12th hole at torrey pines

The par-4 12th hole at Torrey Pines' South Course.

USGA/Kirk H. Owens

GOLF’s Top 100 course panelists are among the most respected and well-traveled course evaluators in the game. They’re also keen to share their opinions. In this GOLF.com series, we’ll unlock their unvarnished views on all questions course-related. The goal is not only to entertain you but also to give you a better understanding of how to understand and appreciate golf course architecture. You can see GOLF’s latest Top 100 Courses in the World ranking here, and our Top 100 Courses in the U.S. here. Meet all of our Top 100 panelists here.

The U.S. Open is back on the West Coast and at a public venue — municipal course Torrey Pines South. What’s the best hole at Torrey, and why?

Thomas Brown (has played 95 of the World Top 100): Checking my conflict of interest at the door, Torrey was my home course while living at the university next door. I favor the south end of the property and think the 12th green near the hang-glider port is the most interesting spot. Torrey is not known for subtlety, and the 12th hole is a par-4 over 500 yards that plays into the coastal onshore breeze.

Will Davenport (has played 40 of World Top 100): Like Thomas, I think 12 is my favorite hole and has the best natural flow to the land. A nod to No. 4 as a close second, but given its distinct advantage of cliffside real estate, I think 12 gets the prize for best hole design.

Pete Phipps (joined panel in 2021): While the drone footage over the Pacific Ocean might be the highlight at Torrey Pines for many viewers, I’ll go with No. 13. It skirts the canyon on the left and will provide some intrigue at the U.S. Open, since some players will have a realistic chance at eagle on the back side on Sunday. From an architectural standpoint, it does offer some strategy on the layup, as hitting it down in the valley leaves you an essentially blind wedge up to a green guarded by five bunkers in the front and one in the back. Players will decide between going for a green surrounded by bunkers on the second shot or laying well back so they have a view of the green on their third.

Hal Phillips (has played 71 of the World Top 100): No arguments with my colleagues here: 12 and 13 are the class of the field.

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