By Any Name, Buick Invitational Has a Sweet History

By Ryan Finley, Contributor

Before Buicks were the official car of affluent 60-somethings and, more recently, Tiger Woods, there was a major golf tournament in San Diego. It was the San Diego Open and the year was 1952 and the winner was Ted Kroll.

Since its inception in the early 50s, the location of the tournament has changed almost as much as the name. Following wins by Kroll and Tommy Bolt at the San Diego Country Club, the tournament was moved to the Rancho Santa Fe golf club in San Diego's North County for one year. The 1954 tournament was won by Gene Littler. After a year at the Mission Valley Country Club, the tournament was moved to the Singing Hills country club in the East County, near El Cajon.

Following a season at Singing Hills, currently a San Diego mainstay, the tournament was moved to Mission Valley permanently. Or at least until 1968.

The Mission Valley courses, first known as the Mission Valley country club and later the Stardust Hotel's course, was the home of the course until Torrey Pines was opened in 1968.

Guarded by mountains to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west, Torrey Pines can be mentioned in the same breath as another popular seaside course, Northern California's Pebble Beach. The course was designed by William Bell, Sr. in 1957.

Prior to becoming golf courses, the land was Camp Callan, a naval training area. The course has been the home to the tournament since then.

The name "Torrey Pines" is a curious name for those unfamiliar with San Diego's seaside tree. The Torrey Pines Tree is indigenous to this area and to Santa Rosa Island. The tree is distinguished by having clusters of five pine needles.

If Tiger Woods hopes to win his second straight Buick Invitational this week, he will have to overcome the power of history. Only one golfer has won the Buick in back-to-back years. J.C. Snead won in 1975 and 1976, posting a 279 in '75 and a 272 in '76.

Ryan Finley, Contributor

A sophomore majoring in journalism at the University of Arizona, Ryan is the volleyball beat writer for the Arizona Daily Wildcat, the student voice of the U of A.

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