The countdown to this week's US Open started almost ten years ago when a group of San Diego entrepreneurs and visionaries put their minds and funding together. They hired course architect Rees Jones to extensively renovate the South course of the Torrey Pines Municipal and successfully applied to the United States Golf Association to stage it as the venue for the 2008 US Open.
"We've been actually preparing for two tournaments, the Buick Invitational (in January 2009) and the US Open," said Mark Woodward, golf operations manager this week. "The grasses on greens and fairways have been changed, bunkers were added to the 6th hole and the fairway on the 4th hole was moved 15 yards west to bring the Pacific Ocean cliffs more into play."
For the Buick the South course is a par-72, about 7,400 yards long with manageable rough but for the Open it's a par-71 (the 6th hole becomes a par-4) of about 7,600 yards in length, with penal rough and fast greens.
Woodward reckons the winning score will be around even par - just as the USGA likes it.
"Somewhere around even par, maybe as much as two over," Woodward predicts. "It's fair but challenging with the kikuyu grass rough significantly shorter than you've seen at recent US Opens."
This is because kikuyu has density rather than height. As those who have played in southern Africa will appreciate, a blade of this grass is at least double the width of traditional rye grass.
"It's hard to move a club head through it," says Woodward. "If we had grown primary rough up to five or six inches we could have made it too rough or unfair, very easily. But that's not what it's about."
However, they will need to have their putting in shape because the greens on this Californian course will be ultra quick.
Despite much of the focus on this being the longest US Open course (7,643 yards) and the rough more dense, the stimpmeter will record the greens running at around 13 seconds, as opposed to Buick Invitational speed of 11 seconds.
"They've never played Torrey Pines where the greens have been this fast," he says. "There are going to be some interesting putts on 18, especially with certain pin locations - but nothing unfair."
Andrew Swales has collated the stroke averages for the leading contenders in recent US Opens (minimum of 10 rounds), which bears out Mark Woodward's contention that this year's event could be won with a score around level par for four rounds of 284.