The 2019 Farmers Insurance Open begins today at the iconic Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, California. The field includes reigning champion Jason Day, 7-time winner Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy. The tournament is the beginning of the PGA Tour’s “West Coast Swing,” as the Tour stays primarily in California for the next month. The Farmers Insurance Open has been played at beloved Torrey Pines Golf Course since 1968, and it has become an integral part of the story of the tournament.
Torrey Pines Golf Course is a municipal facility owned by the city of San Diego and actually contains two separate courses: the North and South courses. The entire facility used to be a functioning US Army training facility during World War II known as Camp Callan. In 1957, the land belonged to the city of San Diego, who hired William F. Bell to design both courses. Bell’s initial design remained until the 2000s, when both courses were eventually updated. First, the South Course was updated by Rees Jones in 2001, while Tom Weiskopf redesigned the North Course in 2016. The South Course’s 7,698 yards make it the longest course played on the regular PGA Tour calendar. Both courses are open to the public, making them one of the few mainstays on the Tour that amateurs can play. The courses offer panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean along with plenty of its namesake torrey pines. Locals suggest playing from your correct tees on these long courses and to enjoy the experience. In addition to the Farmers Insurance Open, Torrey Pines has also hosted the 2008 US Open (won by Torrey Pines’ favorite Tiger Woods) and is slated to host the 2022 US Open.
The Farmers Insurance Open began life as the San Diego Open in 1952 at the San Diego Country Club. In the early years, the tournament was also played at the Rancho Santa Fe Country Club, Stardust Country Club, Singing Hill Country Club and one year at the Rancho Bernardo Country Club. However, the tournament’s 1968 decision to relocate to Torrey Pines coupled with the beginning of a 20 year relationship with actor Andy Williams led to the tournament’s rise to prominence. Over the years, the tournament has seen wins by some of the games greatest players. Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson are both 2-time winners. Gary Players, Tom Weiskopf, Davis Love III and John Daly are also winners. Phil Mickelson is chasing his 4th Farmers Open Championship this year. However, Tiger Woods is unrivaled with his 7 wins, including a 4-peat between 2005-2008. However, the most significant event to happen at the Farmers Insurance Open had nothing to do with winning. In 1952, the recently retired heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis became the first African American to play a PGA Tour event when he was invited to play the event. Louis’ inclusion challenged the PGA’s whites-only restrictions, but ultimately he was allowed to play the event and make golfing history. Unfortunately, the PGA would wait a further 9 years to eradicate its prejudicial practices by unanimous vote November 10, 1961.