The U.S. Open Plays A Public Golf Course

San Diego's Torrey Pines South golf course hosts the championship.

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With today's start of the U.S. Open, golfers have something more to celebrate: yet another course where you can play that has served as host of the national championship. This year's tourney at Torrey Pines South, a seaside San Diego municipal course laid out along cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, means that four American courses where the public can play have now been home to the Open. Today, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and other greats are playing for the championship. After the tournament, the public can give it a try. That offers an extraordinary opportunity for golfers with the wanderlust to travel to where the greats of the game have trodden, as described in a June 11, 2006, article in U.S. News, "Where Duffers Walk in Tiger's Footsteps."

The Open has traditionally been held at exclusive private country clubs. But in a breakthrough of sorts, several publicly accessible courses of the first rank are now joining that elite list. "All four of these courses are golf examinations," says Rees Jones, the golf course architect known as the "Open doctor" who has designed renovations on Torrey Pines South, among other championship sites. The other publicly accessible courses that have hosted the Open: Pebble Beach Golf Links, also in California; Pinehurst No. 2 course, in North Carolina; and Bethpage Black, a New York state course.

—Thomas Omestad