The USGA Golf Museum and Library is proud to preserve the rich history of U.S. Open venues through artifacts, library materials, video footage and photographs. Here’s a list of nine of our favorite Torrey Pines Golf Course artifacts from the USGA’s collection:
Tiger Woods’ Bag Towel, 2008 U.S. Open
This towel was on Tiger Woods’ bag and was used by caddie Steve Williams to clean his clubs during the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Mud and dirt from the championship remain on the towel, representing Woods’ gritty performance as he battled physical pain and unrelenting competition.
Two days after the 2008 Masters Tournament, Woods underwent surgery on his left knee to repair torn cartilage. The U.S. Open was his first competition after the surgery. The 2000 and 2002 champion remained resilient despite the visible signs of pain, stating, “There’s never any excuses… I enjoy the opportunity to compete whether [I’m] 100 percent or not.” After a roller-coaster four days in which he recorded four double bogeys and three eagles, Woods made a 12-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force an 18-hole playoff with Rocco Mediate, eventually winning his third U.S. Open title and 14th major.
Torrey Pines Scorecards, North and South Course, 1968
Torrey Pines Golf Course is one of six U.S. Open host courses open to the public, and it was the first city-owned course to host the championship. Due to its municipal status, the course’s history is inseparable from that of San Diego County, reflecting the area’s growth and development.
The more than 1,000 acres of land overlooking the Pacific Ocean that are now home to the North and South Courses served as a testing ground for aviator Charles Lindbergh before being transformed into Camp Callen, a U.S. military training base during World War II. After the war, the city reacquired the land and a 2.7-mile racetrack took its place. In the 1950s, as the city’s population continued to grow, golf’s rising popularity created demand for places to play. When the North and South Courses opened in 1957, San Diego had 15 public golf courses.
The South Course at Torrey Pines was designed by William Bell Jr. and his father William P. Bell, who were prolific local golf course architects. Bell Jr. finished much of the initial layout and designed the North Course after his father’s death. These scorecards of the North and South courses are from 1968 – the first year the San Diego Open was contested at Torrey Pines. Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and hometown hero Billy Casper competed, and Tom Weiskopf prevailed by one stroke over Al Geiberger. Though the courses were praised as testing layouts suitable for the game’s top professionals, the tournament utilized three holes from the North Course and the rest from the South Course.
Both courses were renovated in the 1970s with the help of Casper before undergoing a major remodeling by Rees Jones in 2002. Jones transformed the course into the world-class, strategic layout competitors are facing in the 2021 U.S. Open. Jones’ redesign features contoured greens that require precise approach shots and brings several holes closer to bluffs, canyons and dramatic cliffs.
Frank Rodia Golf Ball, ca. 1970
This golf ball was used by Frank Rodia, Torrey Pines Golf Course’s first golf pro.
Rodia discovered his passion for golf as a caddie at Seattle (Wash.) Golf Club. In the 1920s, he taught a golf class at Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University) and later organized a match between two high schools that led to competitive golf being introduced to the Seattle school system. While serving as a golf pro at various courses in Washington State, Rodia competed in regional and national tournaments, including the 1929 and 1930 U.S. Opens. He won the Washington Open in 1929 and 1931 and the 1931 PGA Match Play Championship.
After moving to San Diego, Rodia was hired as the first golf pro at Torrey Pines’ North and South courses when they opened in 1957. He served in this role until retiring in 1970. Rodia was inducted into the PGA’s Pacific Northwest Section Hall of Fame in 1982. A women’s tournament at Alderbrook Yacht and Golf Club in Union, Wash., and the Pacific Northwest PGA Junior Championship are named for him, and honor his support for junior and women’s golf in the region throughout his six decades as a golf professional.
Rocco Mediate’s Hat, 2008 U.S. Open
This hat, with three souvenir Torrey Pines and U.S. Open pins, was worn by Rocco Mediate during the 2008 U.S. Open.
At the time of the championship, Mediate’s resume included five PGA Tour wins and an Official World Golf Ranking as high as No. 12. Injuries plagued not only Woods throughout the championship; they also affected 45-year-old Mediate. However, Mediate showed no indication he was struggling despite numerous back surgeries, most recently during the 2006-2007 season. He used his putting prowess to post impressive rounds of 69-71-72-71—283 to tie Woods for a playoff. When asked what he would remember most about the championship, Mediate replied, “Two things: the golf course and the people. The people have been absolutely amazing.”
Trevor Immelman Final Round Scorecard, 1998 U.S. Amateur Public Links
A decade before the U.S. Open, Torrey Pines hosted the 1998 U.S. Amateur Public Links (APL). The now retired USGA championship open to only public-course players was inaugurated in 1922 to encourage the growth of municipal golf.
Though the 1998 championship was beset by persistent fog, 18-year-old Trevor Immelman of South Africa used his controlled drives and clutch putting to steadily defeat each opponent. In one of the largest margins of victory in APL history, Immelman won his third-round match, 9 and 8, with seven birdies and three pars. Immelman defeated Auburn University senior Jason Dufner, 3 and 2, in the 36-hole final as Dufner couldn’t overcome a bogey-bogey start.
Immelman and Dufner have both gone on to successful professional careers, winning the 2008 Masters Tournament and 2013 PGA Championship, respectively.
Woods and Mediate’s Playoff Scorecards, 2008 U.S. Open
Out of 120 U.S. Opens, 33 have ended with a playoff, but only seven have required additional rounds or extra holes. The 18-hole playoff for the 2008 U.S. Open between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate was a back-and-forth battle to the very last hole, with both players shooting even-par 71, and was finally decided on the first sudden-death hole, with Woods making a par to Mediate’s bogey on the par-4 seventh hole.
After Woods birdied the 72nd hole to tie Mediate, Mediate reflected on the impending Monday playoff: “I get to play the best player that ever played… I’m happy that I’m here and I will give it everything I have.” Woods took the upper hand early on, birdieing the sixth and seventh holes while Mediate recorded bogeys. Mediate was three shots behind Woods with eight holes to play. However, Woods opened the door with consecutive bogeys on Nos. 11 and 12 and Mediate made three consecutive birdies. Down the stretch, Mediate remained focused and consistently kept the pressure on Woods. Woods finished with a birdie on No. 18 and a tap-in par on the first sudden-death playoff hole to secure his third U.S. Open title.
Sports Emmy Award
The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) won this Sports Emmy Award for “Outstanding Live Sports Special” for its coverage of the 2008 U.S. Open.
The Sports Emmy Awards have been presented by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences since 1976. The Olympics, World Series and Super Bowl are the most frequent winners of the Live Sports Special category, but with dramatic storylines, exceptional play and the U.S. Open showcased to a primetime audience on the East Coast for the first time, viewership for television and online coverage hit record highs in 2008. NBC reported that the Monday playoff between Woods and Mediate earned the best U.S. Open ratings in three decades, and the fourth round was the third most-watched in U.S. Open history.
Linda Hartough Print: “The Third Hole, South Course, Torrey Pines Golf Course”
The USGA Golf Museum includes an extensive collection of art that showcases diverse artistic interpretations of the golf course. This print of an original oil painting by Linda Hartough depicts the par-3 third hole at Torrey Pines’ South Course overlooking the Pacific Ocean and La Jolla.
Hartough’s detailed paintings are easily recognizable for their unique brush strokes and idealistic renderings. This print was sold on-site at Torrey Pines in the U.S. Open merchandise tent due to her style’s wide appeal. Hartough has painted many U.S. Open venues, and prints of Oakmont, Pebble Beach, Olympic, Baltusrol, Bethpage, Merion and others are included in the Museum’s collection.
Key to the City of San Diego
Offered as a symbol of honor and friendship, this key to the City of San Diego was given to the USGA at the 2008 U.S. Open.
Each year the U.S. Open draws sports fans from around the world to experience the championship and local sites, and San Diego in 2008 was no exception. As the first U.S. Open contested in Southern California since 1948, the championship attracted the second-highest attendance in U.S. Open history with more than 270,000 unique gate entries over a 7-day period. Non-local spending on lodging, shopping, food and transportation for the championship combined with local community spending created a total financial economic impact estimated at more than $142 million for San Diego County. This artifact represents the collaboration between host sites, surrounding communities and the USGA to showcase great courses and local culture.