A golfer looks to line up his putt as workers continue to setup spectator areas. PHOTO BY BLAKE BUNCH.
San Diegans are fortunate enough to claim the Torrey Pines Golf Course as their own. The course, arguably one of the premier courses nationally and internationally, has recently been gearing up on all fronts for the Farmers Insurance Open 2017. While the course shall play the same, new partnerships and resulting amenities will definitely change the way PGA tournaments are conducted.
With Tiger Woods and local San Diegan Phil Mickelson back on the board once again, this year’s open will surely be one for the ages.
Things are a bit more relaxed at Torrey Pines than Augusta National (as one example). This being the case, it only seems natural for the tournament, located on such a pristine parcel of California coastline, to reflect the character of the area.
Peter Ripa, CEO of The Century Club, knows this all too well.
“First of all, we’re extremely excited to have Tiger back,” said Ripa. “He is an athlete that truly transcends the sport. Last year, we had 22 million viewers. For one week, San Diego will be the epicenter of the golf universe. With Tiger involved, you can almost rest assured that those numbers will certainly double. Of course, it is a tremendous draw, but that is one of the countless reasons to make it out thigh year.”
Although the larger crowd will lead to an increased number of marshals, this by no means aims to put a damper on spectators’ enjoyment. Quite the opposite, actually. This year the Farmers Insurance Open has begun to incorporate nearly every sporting event social amenities of the greatest quality for spectators, as well as some most could never imagine at a PGA tournament.
One are is located near the idyllic 16th green is a spectator “flight deck,” which is raised about 6 to 8 feet off the ground. This deck, divided into the Grey Goose section and Williams Hill Wine Lounge, will offer participants a 360-degree view of the canyons, Pacific ocean, and, of course, the green.
Another amenity area dubbed “The Fringe” will be located as am overlook on the 15th green and will hold around 1,000 people. To be allowed entrance to this area, however, ticket owners must possess a premium ticket.
Ripa explains the need for such amenities: “We have tons of private clients coming in this year, and have actually set up cabanas with private bartenders and small plates to suit their needs. These cabanas are completely open-air, which allows participants to have a friendly conversation, grab a drink or two, and watch the action on the green all at the same time. San Diego is such a social, outdoorsy city, and we feel the need to represent that at this year's tournament.”
One aspect Ripa continues to convey is the emphasis on food and beverage quality for attendees, as well as overall social interaction and enjoyment. Far from the typical bag lunch sandwich, chips, beer or hot dogs and hamburgers available at typical tournament dates, the Farmers Insurance Open has provided a wealth of options.
“Perhaps one of our most featured items this year will be our breakfast burrito, which will contain a healthy portion of ‘Cardiff Crack’ tri-tip beef,” said Ripa. “Also, there will be tremendous Thai food, and since we will be airing on EST, we will be offering drink specials daily around 3 p.m.”
Some folks may find this level of comfortability excessive, but the fact of the matter is that while the event is set up to propagate the course and garner revenue, it is truly philanthropic by nature. This year, The Century Club has partnered with several charitable organizations, all of varying scopes and sizes.
One organization, in particular, is the Boys to Men mentoring program, which is an active participant in both the tournament and “One Wave Challenge” on Jan. 21 at the La Jolla Shores. The Century Club’s program, Champions for Youth, will aid in whatever resources necessary, and through the Classy peer to peer funding network. The Farmers Insurance Open and Century Club will charge no fees for said
resources, providing these charitable organizations a level of exposure that would inevitably be out of their reach.
“This year's approach is not traditional compared to other majors,” said Ripa. “But that is what we’re trying to convey. We aim to bring a level of approachability unseen at many other tournaments, and feel as though we’re set on the right path thus far.”