The verdict: It was evident by the round of enthusiastic golf claps that he won over even some of his most fearful constituents.
“I feel like it went really well,” Mickelson said after the 90-minute public meeting at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, where the San Diego native and other officials presented an overview of the project that is expected to commence in the winter of 2015.
The work, budgeted at more than $7 million, will include the rebuilding of all 18 greens and all bunkers, the addition of full cart paths and the replacement of the irrigation system. Mickelson’s design team has been hired to partner with local landscape architect Glen Schmidt on the effort.
Clearly, one of Mickelson’s key objectives was to allay concerns that he would make the North Course too difficult for the average golfer after the South Course was made considerably harder when it was redesigned to host the 2008 U.S. Open.
Mickelson professed his love for Torrey Pines and said, “Torrey North is the golf course people enjoy. Torrey South is hard … It beats me up. We need to have an option that lets everybody play. That’s Torrey North.
“I do believe,” Mickelson said, “that modern-day architecture is the single-most reason why play and participation in golf has decline. It’s just too hard. It’s not fun.”
Among Mickelson’s ideas for the North: fairways and greenside areas that will feed shots toward the hole, not repel it away; chipping areas that will challenge better players but allow higher handicappers to putt from off the green; greenside bunkers placed to the sides and not the front of greens; at least one driveable par-4 on each nine; shorter holes for women and juniors.
Mickelson said the greens need to be altered because they are more severely sloped than those at Augusta National. He said Torrey North’s pins often sit on slopes that are angled at 3 to 4 degrees, whereas Augusta’s pin positions are at 1 to 2 ½ degrees.
The design team will present to the public more specific plans for holes 1-3 on Jan. 10.
Phil has been tasked with a redesign of the North Course at Torrey, and appears to be for making the course a bit easier.