IN THE PUBLIC EYE: Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, Calif.
THE LAYOUT: The North Course (6,838 yards, par 72) and the more famous South Course (7,607 yards, par 72) were designed by William P. Bell and opened in 1957, with the South reworked by Rees Jones in 2001.
Torrey Pines has been the host venue of what is now the Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour since 1968. Among the tournament champions on the course have been Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Davis Love III, Craig Stadler, Mark O'Meara, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods -- who won it for a record sixth time in 2008.
However, nothing in the course's remarkable history could match Woods' victory over Rocco Mediate on the 19th hole of a Monday playoff in the 2008 U.S. Open on the revered South Course, which joined Bethpage Black as the only public courses to have hosted the national championship.
Torrey Pines in the only truly municipal course to host the national championship.
San Diego has a rich golf history. Among the locals who have roamed the fairways at Torrey Pines include greats of the game Mickelson, Stadler, Mickey Wright, Billy Casper, Gene Littler, Scott Simpson and Phil Rodgers.
HEAD PROFESSIONAL: Joseph G. DeBock.
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Hoping to land a major championship, Torrey Pines officials had noted course designer Rees Jones oversee a facelift that lengthened the South Course by more than 500 yards.
The United States Golf Association was duly impressed and awarded Torrey Pines the 2008 U.S. Open.
The Farmers Insurance Open is played every year at Torrey Pines during the PGA Tour's West Coast Swing, but the longer and more challenging South Course is played exclusively on the weekend.
Last month, Mickelson and his design team were selected to renovate the North Course in 2015. The $7 million project will include creating 18 new greens, renovating bunkers and tees, adding full cart paths, improving irrigation practices and possibly adding new tees for tournament play.
Seven holes of the South Course play along the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean, highlighted by No. 12 -- one of the longest and most difficult par 4s anywhere at 507 yards from the tips.
The most familiar hole at Torrey Pines is No. 18 South, a 572-yard par 5, where the PGA event finishes each year. That's where Woods made eagle to win in 1999 and where John Daly made birdie from the back bunker for a playoff victory in 2006.
Woods added to the lore on the final hole in the U.S. Open when he sank a 12-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force extra holes, and he made another birdie there from four feet to send the playoff to a 19th hole.
Just steer clear of the pond guarding the final green, known as Devlin's Billabong. That's where Bruce Devlin of Australia made an 11 to blow his chances to win the tournament in 1975 after hitting his approach into the shallow water of the pond and using six more swings trying to hit it out.
If you're looking for a challenge, play the South, but the locals will tell you that the shorter North Course is much more fun and just as scenic, especially the 195-yard 12th -- a par 3 with the Pacific as a backdrop.
OTHER COURSES IN THE AREA: This golfing-rich region also includes Del Mar National Golf Club, Encinitas Ranch Golf Club, Rancho Bernardo Inn and Country Club, Carmel Highland Golf Resort, Four Seasons Aviara Golf Club, Morgan Run Club and Resort, Balboa Park Golf Course, Carlton Oaks Country Club and Cottonwood Golf Club in El Cajon.
WHERE TO STAY: The Lodge at Torrey Pines overlooks the final hole of the South Course. Also in the area are the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines, Estancia Hotel La Jolla, La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, La Jolla Cove Suites and the Grande Colonial in La Jolla.
ON THE WEB: www.torreypinesgolfcourse.com
THE LAST RESORT: Mauna Kea Resort in Kamuela, Hawaii.
THE LAYOUT: In the early 1960s, hotelier Laurance S. Rockefeller chose this then-remote corner of paradise on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii for what was to become a revolutionary type of resort.
Rockefeller stood on a lava field with Robert Trent Jones Sr. and asked the renowned golf course architect if it would be possible to build a course on the blackened terrain -- something that had never been done.
Jones reached down and picked up two pieces of lava. He pounded them together, and when they crumbled, he knew the lava could be crushed to form a perfect base and provide drainage for a golf course.
The classic course that Jones created measures a challenging 7,114 yards from the back tees, but with four tee boxes, resort guests can find the perfect yardage for a rewarding experience.
Rockefeller had crushed coral brought from nearby Kawaihae Harbor, and dirt was trucked in from the more fertile areas around Honokaa. The black lava fields were transformed into lush carpets of green.
But this was not "Field of Dreams," and Rockefeller knew he had to get the word out, or more precisely, the picture out to the people before they would come.
So Rockefeller arranged for an episode of the hit television golf show, "Big Three Golf," featuring legends Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, to be taped at Mauna Kea.
The legend of Mauna Kea was born before a captive television audience, and soon the guests were coming from the Mainland by the planeload to see the magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean and three majestic volcanoes -- Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Kilauea.
Rees Jones oversaw a renovation of his father's famous course in 2008, with bunkers restored to their original configurations, greens and tee boxes rebuilt, and 200 yards added in an effort to bring the classic course up-to-date.
HEAD PROFESSIONAL: Johnny Eusebio.
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: When Rockefeller asked Jones if he could build the course, they were standing on the future site of the famed No. 3 hole at Mauna Kea, a par 3 that measured 250 yards across a picturesque cove to the wide, narrow green.
There was a brisk wind blowing into the faces of the golfers the day when the Big Three played for television, and all hit driver, with only Palmer reaching the green.
These days, the hole plays somewhat easier for Mauna Kea guests, at a maximum of 210 yards, but don't be short or left or your ball is in the Pacific. And be sure to visit the spot of that famous tee box, which is now a picnic area with a plaque in the ground to commemorate the Big Three match.
Hawaii golf expert Mark Rolfing claims Mauna Kea has the best set of par-3 holes in the islands. Scenic No. 11 plays 247 yards directly downhill to the water.
Nicklaus and Palmer showed on their first trip around Mauna Kea, which has been ranked as the best course in Hawaii and one of the 10 best in the world, that the back nine might be a bit easier. Both shot 5-under-par 31 on the back, a record that still stands.
Mauna Kea and its sister property, the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel next door, offer another amenity that Rockefeller had in mind when he was planning the ultimate all-inclusive golf resort so many years ago.
You can walk from your hotel to the course in a matter of minutes. If you are staying at Mauna Kea, a shuttle whisks you to the Hapuna Course, again in only minutes, and vice versa.
That's another part of the concept that when you stay at a destination golf resort, you don't have to leave the property for anything.
And this is where it all started.
OTHER COURSES IN THE AREA: Even though it is only slightly more than a Bubba Watson drive from Mauna Kea, the Hapuna Course is a completely different type of course designed by Palmer and Ed Seay. It opened in 1992.
The Hapuna Course features target-style golf similar to that found in the deserts of California, Nevada and Arizona.
In all, there are 20 golf courses on the Big Island, with more on the way. Not far down the road is the Mauna Lani Bay Resort with the two exceptional Francis H. I'i Brown golf courses.
Just south of Mauna Lani is Waikoloa, with three excellent resort courses -- the Kings' Course, Waikoloa Village and Waikoloa Beach.
Also nearby is Hualalai Golf Club, which hosts the Champions Tour every year, and the Kona Country Club, which has the Ocean and Mountain courses.
For a truly unique experience, play at Volcano Golf and Country Club in Volcanoes National Park.
WHERE TO STAY: The Mauna Kea and Hapuna are two of several magnificent resorts on the Kohala Coast. Don't miss Mauna Kea's Tuesday night luau, which features authentic Hawaiian food, dances and music. After dinner, take a walk down to the Manta & Pavilion Wine Bar, where floodlights reveal the manta rays at play in the surf.
The Fairmont Orchid is an AAA Four-Diamond resort nestled on 32 acres of oceanfront property within the 3,200-acre Mauna Lani Resort community, with spectacular views of the Big Island's five mountains, including Mauna Kea -- the world's tallest peak when measured from its base on the floor of the Pacific.
Right next door is the Mauna Lani Resort and its famous beachside bungalows. Others resorts nearby include Waikoloa and the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.
ON THE WEB: www.princeresortshawaii.com