|Here is the scoop on how to make reservations and/or get on the courses at Torrey Pines.
Tee Time Reservations
Reservations may be made one week in advance by calling 619-570-1234. This is a computerized system that will prompt you through several options. You respond by pressing the appropriate number on your touch-tone telephone. You have to be a city resident to be able to make reservations through this system. City Residents will be asked to enter their six digit City of San Diego issued Photo ID Card number (Pin #) in order to get discounted resident greens fee which they will pay on the day of play after they present their Resident Photo ID to the starter.
(Note: non-residents and residents without a Photo ID who are playing with Photo ID carrying residents still have to pay the higher non-resident greens fees.)
Residents without a Resident Photo ID can still make a reservation by phoning (858) 581-7171 8 to 90 days in advance and paying a non-refundable reservation fee with a Visa or MasterCard credit card at the time of booking.
The computer touch-tone reservation system starts accepting calls at 7pm (PST) every day for tee times seven days later. You better be a fast re-dialer if you want to get through because it's like trying to win a radio station contest by hitting the redial button over and over until you get that lucky ring! The tee times are usually gone within 15 to 20 minutes!
There is a way to get a reservation more than 7 days in advance. You may call the City Golf Office at (858) 581-7171. The City of San Diego has a limited number of times to book up to 90 days in advance. The current charge for this service is about $25/player for residents, $45/player for visitors. This service is operated by the City of San Diego and they can be reached at the number above weekdays only between 9 am and 3 pm Pacific.
The other way to get on is to hire one of several "tee time providers" in town. These golf reservation companies will do the dialing for you. Of course you'll have to pay them a fee over and above your green fees and cart. Like any other service, you are paying them for the convenience of not having to remember to spend your time dialing for a tee time at 7 pm one week prior to your golf outing. The coordination fees range from a few dollars up to $50 per person so shop carefully.
Walk-On's (or Stand-By's)
There are two "procedures" for early morning "walk-ons". The "Weekday Procedure" and the "Weekend Procedure". These procedures have evolved over several generations of golfers to establish and maintain the first come first served order without having to stand in line for hours in the dark and sometimes cold.
The first reserved tee time, everyday, tees off at 7 to 7:30am, so there is about an hour between sunrise and the first reserved tee time. The Starter opens the course around 6am. Starters usually wait for the Pro Shop to open to begin letting people on the course. This way, those who prefer to ride can rent a cart from the shop.
On weekdays, obviously, it's easier to get on during this pre-7:30 am period. Park your car and take your golf bag to the rail on the deck facing the North Course first tee. Place it as close to the Starter's window as possible, without by-passing other bags already "in the line". The starter's window is on the North end of the balcony. You may notice a few bags are empty and chained to the rail/fence. They belong to people that showed up early and went to sleep in their cars. After placing your bag along the rail, you can leave the balcony and go to your car or try to find something to eat or drink. DO NOT LEAVE THE PREMISES. When the Starter opens the window, each bag owner takes his/her place in line per bag position. Usually there is room for 5 to 8 foursomes per course before the first reserved tee time. Each person may sign up for up to one foursome.
On weekends the situation is tight. The "DO NOT LEAVE THE PREMISES" rule is fully enforced. This is the procedure: You get to the parking lot and look for the car with its lights on, or for the one flashing its lights as you get there. That's the signal from the person who has The Number. The Number is exactly that, a number, or position in the line when the Starter opens the window. Once you get The Number, you wait in your car for the next arrival to pass it on. If they tell you: "You are 14", then you tell the next person: "You are 15". And so on. People look very skeptically at cars leaving the parking lot. You may go anywhere within the premises. Another no-no is to skip a Number, thus securing two spots in the line. Now, here's the bad news. You may get to the course by 4 to 5am only to find that you are Number 27. The die-hard, truly brave "dawn patrol" regulars sometimes get there by 11pm or Midnight, THE NIGHT BEFORE. If you can, go out to the course a day in advance and ask the starter for his best guess of what time you should get there to have a good chance of playing the next morning. Several factors affect the Number: course condition, weather, football, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. Still, if your Number is high, say beyond 20, take your place in the line. Chances are that you and your group won't tee off before 7:30 am, but at least you will be in a reasonable position on the wait list to play when the reservation system yields no-shows.
TIP: If you are by yourself or with a buddy, pay attention to the starter, as sometimes there is a threesome or a twosome ahead of you in the line and the starter needs to fill the foursome quickly. If you hear the starter ask for a single or twosome without paging over the loudspeaker, speak up fast and jump into the line. The starter may ask you to pay send you with some urgency to the first tee.
Twilight rates apply starting anywhere from noon to 4pm depending what time it gets dark. The sign-up for twilight is at noon at the Starter window each day. The line to sign up usually starts by 11:30am and is to the left of the Starter's window, along the rail overlooking the North course first tee. Some twilight golfers who want to be near the top of the wait list will place a golf bag along that rail early in the morning to hold their place in line.
One special each year the day after the Farmers Insurance Open. The course management does not take reservations for that day. Both courses play with the pin locations from the last round played by the PGA TOUR pros (Friday for the North, Sunday for the South). The demand to play the South Course on that day is unbelievable. There are lottery forms available at the course to submit. Forms filled out and handed to the starter on time are drawn at random a week or so in advance. It's best to just go to the course and take care of that in late December or early January.
This pretty much covers it. Oil up your touch tone phone and your dialing finger or get out to the course early if you want to play Torrey.