By Tom Dellner
Although it originated in Europe, the Arts and Crafts movement was popularized in the U.S. in the early 1900s by Frank Lloyd Wright in the Midwest and Gustav Stickley in New York. The style especially thrived in Southern California, where architects Charles and Henry Greene designed what many consider the world's grandest Craftsman-style structures.
The Lodge at Torrey Pines is inspired by two Greene and Greene homes-the Blacker and Gamble houses in Pasadena. The Evans family, the Lodge's owners, hired Randell Makinson, the world's foremost authority on the Greenes, to oversee the project and ensure that it faithfully and accurately reflected the Greenes' work. From the most fundamental design features-post-and-beam construction with a clinker-brick foundation and broad roof overhangs complete with outrigger projections and rafter tails-to the wood joinery, art glass windows, lamps and furnishings, no expense was spared.
Despite the luxury and meticulous detailing, the Lodge is anything but uncomfortably formal. To the contrary, you'll feel relaxed and welcome from the moment you pull up to the Lodge's entrance, with its low-slung timber entry porch and bulging, ivy-covered brick walls. The pleasant scent of a wood fireplace greets you as you open your car door, thanks to dulcet ocean breezes that blow through the lobby. White oak floors, wood paneling of Brazilian cherry and simple furniture groupings in the high-ceilinged public areas add further comfort.
Architecture mavens and novices alike will content themselves prowling Lodge interiors, perhaps enjoying the world-class spa or dining at the elegant A.R. Valentien restaurant, but the Lodge's natural surroundings will soon draw guests outdoors.
A short walk from the Lodge is the Torrey Pines State Reserve, with its network of canyons and uniquely wind-textured sandstone cliffs towering above the Pacific. This is 2,000 acres of the wildest coastal land remaining in Southern California and home to the rare Torrey Pine, which grows naturally only here and on Santa Rosa Island, located 40 miles off the coast of Ventura. On a smaller scale, the Torrey Pines reserve is comparable in natural beauty to the Big Sur coastline some 400 miles to the north.
Lest we forget our priorities, the new Lodge must be lauded for its access to the adjacent Torrey Pines South course, which will host the U.S. Open in 2008. The South, which recently underwent an extensive renovation by Rees Jones, is the much tougher test. Jones lengthened the course (it can now stretch to a punishing 7,600 sea-level yards), relocated fairway bunkers so they're in play for long hitters and repositioned greens to bring many of the course's cliffs and canyons into play.
Shorter hitters may have their hands full on the South. The par-4 13th is evidence that the redesigned South has sharp teeth. It plays 477 yards dead into the wind. Bust a driver and pure a 3-wood here and you'll consider yourself most manly should you sneak it onto the front edge.
The North is a much friendlier but equally scenic layout. But it is certainly no pushover, especially in a good wind. The signature hole on Torrey Pines North is the par-3 6th, which plays 206 yards downhill to a large green with the Pacific as a panoramic backdrop. Play both courses soon-and by all means book a Lodge visit-before the whole world gets the same idea.
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