The PGA Tour rolls through San Diego's Torrey Pines this week, and once again, my friends at Golf Odyssey have the lowdown on playing this former U.S. Open venue and usually crowded municipal complex.
By "lowdown," I mean the smart way to score a tee time at what is often called "Bethpage West," and how to save a ton of money in the process.
Consider this: a traveling golfer who books an advance tee time on Torrey Pines' South Course will have to pay nearly $300 in fees and taxes (by comparison, Bethpage Black is "only" $150 for nonresidents).
That's a lot to pay for any U.S. Open course, let alone a muni.
Thankfully, there's an easy and surprisingly convenient way to play Torrey Pines for more than half that much.
The secret is to avoid pricey advanced tee times and to take advantage of Torrey Pines' walk-up system and twilight rates, which can bring the price of a round on the South Course down to $110.
Of course, this isn't really a secret at all because the course fully discloses you can play for less at off-peak times.
The real secret is that the availability of these off-peak rates is quite good and the walk-up system works pretty well.
Many people assume they'll have to wait forever as a walk-up, and therefore they don't even try.
According to the editors of Golf Odyssey:
"After two days of walking from our course-side hotel rooms to put our names on the starter's list (names are taken beginning at 6 a.m.), and getting called to play about when the starter predicted we would, we left convinced this was an eminently viable way to 'do' Torrey Pines."
As noted above, the walk-up system is ideally suited for guests of the nearby Lodge at Torrey Pines or the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines, because you can get your name on the starter's list less than five minutes after leaving your room.
"While not guaranteed, your chances of getting on are excellent. When we surveyed the staff in the pro shop, they said if you show up on a weekday when no tournaments or special outings are scheduled, you will usually get out in an hour or two. On weekends, it may be three hours or so. However, since the starter can usually give you an estimate of how long your wait will be, you can return to the hotel while you wait."
Bottom line, if you have the chance to play Torrey Pines at twilight, you should take it.
You may or may not like the course at $300, but at $110, you'll love it.
What was your experience like at Torrey Pines Golf Course? Please share your comments below.