For close to 70 years, the best golfers in the world have descended upon San Diego for one of the Professional Golf Association’s top tournaments. Now known as the Farmers Insurance Open, the event previously called the Buick Invitational is the opening salvo of the PGA season, taking place in late January at the beautiful and challenging Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California.
While most of the country is covered with snow and ice, Torrey Pines in sunny San Diego is the perfect destination for the beginning of the PGA tour’s “West Coast Swing.” The tournament’s rich history, amazing course play, exciting atmosphere and the allure of the world’s best golfers make the Farmers Insurance Open one of the best events to experience in person. Here’s everything you need to know about the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego.
San Diego is Home to Amazing Golf
San Diego has been a haven for great golf ever since the first nine-hole course was constructed in Balboa Park in the late 1800s. The 495-year Hole 2 stretched from what is now the San Diego Zoo parking lot to the green on the site of the Old Globe Theatre.
San Diego Country Club hosted the city’s first PGA Tour stop in 1952. For the first two years, the tournament was held at San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista. In 1954, the event moved to Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe. During the 1950s and 1960s, the tournament moved around to a few different courses in San Diego like Mission Valley Country Club, Singing Hills Country Club and Rancho Bernardo Country Club.
Known as the San Diego Open, the event was hosted by singer-actor Andy Williams for close to 20 years, from the late 1960s until 1988. The event has seen a few different sponsors over the years, including Wickes, Isuzu and Shearson Lehman Brothers.
The tournament has been played at Torrey Pines since 1968. Car manufacturer Buick became a longtime sponsor of the tournament starting in 1992, eventually being replaced by Farmers Insurance in 2010.
The Farmers Insurance Open is televised annually on the Golf Channel and CBS.
A Who’s Who of Golf’s Elite Tee Up at Torrey Pines
Over the years, the best golfers on the planet have hit the links in January at Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open. Nine golfers have won the tournament more than once, including Tiger Woods, who has won the event a whopping seven times (1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2013). Woods won four straight years (2005-2008) and was also victorious at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
Phil Mickelson has three tournament victories (1993, 2000 and 2001). Mickelson and J.C. Snead are the only golfers to win the even in consecutive years (Snead won back-to-back in 1975 and 1976). Seven golfers have won the tournament more than once, including notables like Arnold Palmer (1957 and 1961), Tom Watson (1977 and 1980) and Jason Day (2015 and 2018).
The course record for the North Course at Torrey Pines is 61, set by Mark Brooks in 1990 and matched by Brandt Snedeker in 2007. Woods torched the South Course with a score of 62 in 1999.
How the Tournament Works
The Farmers Insurance Open utilizes both the North Course and the South Course for the tournament. The first 36 holes are split between the courses, with the final 36 holes being played on the South Course.
Over the years, both the North Course and South Course have seen a few improvements. The South Course was revamped in 2001 by Rees Jones. It is now a par 72 covering 7,698 yards from the back tees. During a 2016 redesign effort, the North Course flipped the front nine with the back nine, so now golfers can view the Pacific Ocean as they progress through the final holes.
Torrey Pines is named for a rare tree that grows along the San Diego coastline. The South Course hosted the 2008 U.S. Open, won by Tiger Woods in a dramatic Monday playoff. The major tournament is set to return to Torrey Pines in 2021.
The Live Experience is Second to None
The Farmers Insurance Open typically garners a huge rating on television, but there’s nothing quite like experiencing the PGA Tour event in person. Simply put, Torrey Pines is a golf club like no other. From distinctive events and attractions to its own eclectic menu of tasty fare, there’s just as much diversity off the course as there are on its finely manicured fairways and greens. Here’s a few can’t-miss experiences, along with a few tips and tricks.
- Try a Torrey Breeze: Yes, the golf club has its own signature cocktail – the Grey Goose Torrey Breeze. The drink consists of Grey Goose Vodka with blackberry raspberry lemonade. Order up a Torrey Breeze and take in the amazing panoramic views of the course from the expanded Grey Goose 19th Hole and elevated Flight Deck.
- Signature Brew: If a mixed cocktail isn’t your bag, try the 10-Under Pale Ale, a light, California-style pale ale that is brewed at downtown San Diego’s 10 Barrel brewery. San Diego has a wonderful craft brew culture, with several up-and-coming breweries both downtown and around the city. Other draft favorites at Torrey Pines include Elysian Space Dust, Estrella Jalisco, 10 Barrel Apocalypse and Kona Big Wave Golden Ale.
- Try the Tri-Tip: Get ready for great golf and possibly even greater food at Torrey Pines. The signature Torrey BBQ Tri-Tip Sandwich is a mouthwatering tender tri-tip with crispy onions and a perfectly matched honey barbecue sauce. Not to be outdone, the club’s savory Torrey Tri-Tip Breakfast Burrito is the perfect way to kick off the day. The hefty burrito comes with scrambled eggs, potatoes, cheddar cheese and flavorful red salsa.
- New-Wave Faves: At Torrey Pines, everyone can enjoy a tasty burger. The club offers Beyond Burgers on a fresh Brioche bun and crisp Kettle Chips. Cravory Cookies is a chic, local cookie shop with creative treats that should satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.
- Get in the Zone: The Michelob Ultra Zone provides excellent seating with views of the action all week long, along with premium drink specials. Other prime viewing spots include the Trophy Club on 18, Surf Club on 17 and the Fringe on 15.
- Made in the Shade: A great spot to see the world’s top golfers is at the MD Anderson Cancer Center Shaded Grandstands. The grandstands near the Main Entrance and the Hole 11 green offer shaded seating that is elevated with a clear line of sight.
- After Party: Boogie down long after the final putt is sunk. Harrah’s Resort SoCal has been known to host a killer Post Party with live music, celebrities, hot DJs and a slew of Happy Hour drinks beginning at 3 p.m.
Find Lodging for Farmers Insurance Open
If you are coming from out of town to watch the Farmers Insurance Open, now is the time to start thinking of your accommodations. You don’t need to stay in an over-priced sponsored hotel. Instead, San Diego Coast Rentals offers a variety of excellent vacation rental condos that are located close to the shuttle pick-up area for the tournament.
These beautiful homes, condos, and town homes are also close to the beach and many of San Diego’s best attractions, like the downtown Gaslamp District, the San Diego Zoo, and much more. View our available rentals today and reside in style while watching the masters of golf make the little white ball fly.