Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Torrey Pines - Part 1

Torrey Pines’ 36 holes are listed as a “must-play” course in the U.S. for golfers - professionals or amateurs alike. It’s an icon and a challenge to San Diegans, having many of the holes atop the bluffs facing the wind. Floating amidst the spectacular views overlooking coastal lines and the La Jolla Seashore, are silent hang gliders. Too classic, I’m afraid. I proudly wear a Torrey Pines golf cap on my daily outings in Kitakyushu, although no Japanese ever voiced recognition of the tree emblem.

While I was living in New York, experiencing harsh winters with heavy snow, I marveled at the lush greens and sunny California sky, beginning with the New Year’s Rose Parade in Pasadena, and the first Golf Tournament at Bing Crosby Pebble Beach and Andy Williams Open in San Diego, California. Then, upon my relocation to San Diego in the 1970s, I fully enjoyed the amenities. I used to leave my home on weekends before 5 am and mingle among the early birds who thronged outside the starters’ gate still in the dark. There was no price difference between the North or South course then. Today I’m shocked at the green fee schedules I found on the Internet. Boy oh boy! South Course and North Course have very different green fees now. If you play 18 holes on weekdays in the South, you pay $61 (seniors $43) with an annual $25 resident membership. Visitors must pay $183 per person. On weekends in the South, residents pay $76 while visitors pay $229 per person. For the North Course on weekdays, the price is $40 for residents (seniors $28), $100 for visitors and on weekends, $50 for residents and $125 for visitors. The membership fee has increased 5 fold compared to the days when I played. I remember paying a little over $100 at Pebble Beach as a visitor.

I stopped playing golf after returning to Japan. I found the golf courses in Japan too far to travel to since they are located in remote mountainous countryside. I switched from golf to swimming. My wife gave away my golf clubs to a buyer for a local department store. I’m wondering how the courses are faring with the recent 4-year California drought. “Brown is the new green” started a new joke. I’m sure Torrey Pines uses recycled water and a computer programmed watering system. I just found out that 81,400 rounds were played on both South and North courses during the 7 months ending on January 31, 2015, which culminated in a marginal profit. The paper says Vista in the north was hit hard by drought. The Eucalyptus trees were drying out. I will cover Torrey Pine trees next, one of the rarest trees, now on the IUCN red list of endangered species.

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