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La Jolla California Golf Jewel – Torrey Pines Golf Course
Janice Wilson

La Jolla California Golf Jewel – Torrey Pines Golf Course

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What can I say? Golf is certainly not a "Game of Perfection" but the Torrey Pines North and South Golf Courses, in La Jolla, California are the closest to golfing perfection that I've experienced.

Every now and then extraordinary things happen to ordinary people, for me it was teeing off at Torrey Pines on one of the finest Spring days Southern California has ever experienced.

The day was crystal-clear and a light sea breeze kept the temperature at a refreshing 71 degrees. The grass was still lightly misted at 7:20 a.m. when they called our names to take the number one tee. An anticipatory thrill of excitement made my heart beat a little faster, knowing that I was about to hit from the same tee box that produced some of golf's most admired champions, including Tom Weiskopf (1968), Jack Nicklaus (1969), and more recently, Tiger Woods (1999), and Phil Mickelson (2000, 2001).

Not many people think that a state-of-mind is a matter of choice, but I can guarantee you that when you play the Torrey Pines Golf Courses, designed by William Bell Sr. and completed by William Bell Jr. in 1957, your consciousness will be forever changed. Rees Jones was recently responsible for redesigning and changing the championship course in 2001. By using his personal touch to the already challenging play, he allowed the landscape and legacy of Torrey Pines to take on a new life. The rolling bent grass greens, sweeping ocean views, and overall boundless beauty of these courses are unsurpassed.

The first hole on the South Course is a tough opening hole because of its length — from the white tees it's 432 yards and is straight into the wind. They say you don't want to miss right off the tee because the trees pass the bunker are thicker than on the left side. Although my tee shot was a respectable 150 yards, I missed the fairway and landed in the rough on the left side. The only painful part of playing this course is landing in the rough because they are U.S. Open grade roughs. It was a good thing my state-of-mind was enamored with the beauty and perfection of this world renowned "golfer's paradise," because the rough was so thick that it always cost me a stroke or two just to try and get out of it.

The second hole — par 3 — allowed me to play a club off the tee that left me with the yardage to play my favorite approach iron to the green. I had to allow for some roll towards the ocean when my approach shot landed. The greens were tricky because the uphill putts are slower than they appeared and always died towards the ocean.

Torrey Pines has long been recognized as one of the nation's foremost municipal golf facilities. Because it's a public course you can walk and carry your clubs, take a golf cart or pull cart. Because it's bounded by mountains to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west, the seaside courses are often swept by fog, rain and chilling winds. Thank goodness I only had to deal with the U.S. Open roughs. The weather was almost as perfect as my approach shot on the 10th hole.

Jetsetters Magazine Golf MallThe #10 is a short par 4 — 373/356/344/291 — handicap 12/16. The key to this hole is the position off the tee. There is a fairway bunker on the right side of the fairway. I wanted to be on that side of the fairway to have a good angle of attack to the green. I missed the green short about 60 yards and again I was in the rough. I prayed to the golf god's and lined up my shot with the pin. But something very strange had occurred.

The blue flag had fallen from the top of the pin and was lying straight up on the green surrounding the cup. It looked a little strange, especially since everything about Torrey Pines was picture perfect. But since I was in the rough, I knew I didn't have a prayer to reach the hole anyway. So I scrunched my eyes and lined up my ball with the upside down flag pin. I took a full hefty swing with my pitching wedge. I watched the ball fly high out of the rough and head towards the pin. Flying through the air the ball hit the pin and dropped on the green. I was sure it was going to roll off the green, but to my amazement the fallen blue flag acted like a catcher's mitt, caught my golf ball and magically it clunked in the cup for a perfect birdie. Sometimes extraordinary things do happen to ordinary people and it is thrilling!

All golfers seem to live for that one thrilling shot! It's as if we keep hitting that little ball again and again in hopes that this will be the shot that will connect with the perfect rhythm, the perfect trajectory and the perfect distance between ourselves and the course. That shot out of the rough was my moment to feel that connection and to experience this feeling of perfection, and a little luck. Like most amateur golfers, luck is always a welcomed guest any day of the week on the links.

The other three players in our foursome applauded my good fortune and the round took on a new kind of play. I realized that I could get out of that rough if I would choose to think positively about my swing and my ability. When I focused on lining up the ball with the pin, no matter what the obstacle, there was a greater chance that I'd sink the shot.

I remembered reading in a golf book that if you think about what you want to happen instead of what you don't want to happen your chance of success improves. Picking a target and visualizing the ball going to that target was also part of the routine I was practicing. And because golf isn't a game of perfect, but a game of practice, when I was able to focus my mind and follow through with these two simple rules, I found myself hitting a lot more "lucky" shots!

Sounds simple enough, but disciplining my thoughts to remember only what was good about what I did, instead of focusing on everything that went wrong was a challenge as deep as those U.S. Open roughs. But when I did, I found I had gained a new confidence that helped me enjoy my round of golf even more.

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By Janice Wilson, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent. Read Jetsetters Magazine at

About the Author

Janice Wilson, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent. Join the Travel Writers Network in the logo at

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