The future of the Torrey Pines municipal golf course — specifically its north course — is in the hands of San Diego native Phil Mickelson.
The professional golfer’s business, Phil Mickelson Design, has agreed to provide an updated design for the north course under a deal with the city of San Diego, said T.R. Reinman, a spokesman for the golfer. Reinman said Mickelson will donate his design fee to the city.
Work on what is expected to be a $7.8 million project is tentatively scheduled to begin in the summer of 2014, according to the city’s public works department. The city expects the project to take a year.
The project is “very much in the design stage,” Reinman said. Preliminary plans for the course will be aired at a city-sponsored meeting scheduled to run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 18 at the Lodge at Torrey Pines, 11480 N. Torrey Pines Road. Mickelson is expected to be at the meeting.
Two other public meetings are planned.
Reinman said Mickelson met with former Mayor Jerry Sanders about the work last year, starting the redesign process.
Mickelson’s design team includes architect Mike Angus and designer Rick Smith. All have looked at the course, Reinman said. “The ideas are there. Nothing’s on paper,” he said.
It is typical for professional golfers to come up with the general concepts for golf courses, and then leave the details to other people. “Jack Nicklaus does not draw the drainage plans,” Reinman quipped.
Mickelson’s business has also designed a course for the Whisker Rock Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. Additionally, it has designed five courses in China.
Mickelson, 42, was born in San Diego and went to University of San Diego High School and Arizona State University. He lives in Rancho Santa Fe.
“Phil grew up on this course,” Reinman said of Torrey Pines. “He has a huge emotional investment in the place. He’s looking forward to making, as he says, a fun challenge.”
The course will be different from the Torrey Pines south course, which is “pretty severe,” Reinman said.
William P. Bell designed the Torrey Pines golf courses and William F. Bell completed his work; the courses date from 1957. The city rebuilt the south course in 2001, following designs from architect Rees Jones. In 2008, the south course hosted the U.S. Open.
In recent years, the south course at Torrey Pines has been a bigger draw than the north course, said local hotel operator and consultant Robert Rauch. Renovations to the north course may pique more visitor interest, he said.
Rauch said he didn’t expect course renovations to change hotel occupancy markedly. He also said San Diego might have a new source of golf enthusiasts, since Japan Airlines is now offering direct flights from Tokyo.
Jones’ work lengthened the south course from roughly 7,000 yards to slightly less than 7,600. Par for an 18-hole round is 72.
The north course is 6,600 yards long when measured from the blue tees; par for an 18-hole round is 72.
Green fees vary at the municipal courses. The north course is the bargain. On weekends, city residents can play 18 holes on the north course for $50. Nonresidents pay $125.
Fees for 18 holes on the upgraded south course are $76 on weekends for city residents. Nonresidents pay $229.
Torrey Pines is host every year to the Farmers Insurance Open, part of the PGA Tour. This year’s tournament is scheduled for Jan. 21-27.