If you don’t like Chambers Bay then you just don’t like golf. I truly believe this was the way golf was meant to be played, more on the ground and less airtime. Although this will be the LONGEST course ever played to date in a USGA event at 7,742 yards long with a course rating of 78.6 and slope of 138.
This 930 acre piece of publicly owned land is now being utilized for a off-leash dog area, kite flying and soon access to over two miles of Puget Sound shoreline. This property by 1992 was the nations largest producer of sand and gravel in the country, which now after Robert Trent Jones Jr. magical touch will host it’s first major event starting tomorrow. You can definitely tell that a large quarry existed previously on this massive piece of land. The amazing thing about that is it’s a PERFECT piece of land for a world class golf course. Jones used the natural flow of the land to create what I would call one of the most stunning visual courses I’ve ever seen. Virtually every hole has a panoramic view of Puget Sound siting calmly nearby.
You’d think that at 7,742 yards the Champion next Sunday would be a bomber (defined by a younger player that flies the ball over 300 yards in the air) however I disagree slightly with this logic because everyone in the field will hit these fairways that stretch from 28-125 yards wide. The distance is important, but the eventual champion will be decided by the 2nd shot into these very firm and undulated putting surfaces. Each shot will allow the player many options, picking the right option will be the key to success. It will be very difficult to determine how much pitch and roll you’ll get on these very firm fescue surfaces.
I have never played a course with all fescue grass which will be a different experience. I did notice that with the speed of the greens, I needed to play more break on my putts than it appeared. The bounce and run of the second shots were very difficult to properly gauge leaving me to error on the conservative side in my decision making process.
Once your ball has run off the steep side walls of these tricky greens, that’s where the big trouble and big scores will shock the players. After you’ve missed your shot down one of these steep slopes, making a bogey should be the first priority not hitting a miracle shot to make a par. Many of these shots will come up short and run back to the players feet, others will zoom across the green and down the other side. Trying to hit a flop shot with a 60 degree sand wedge with bounce is very dangerous as many of my practice flops were chunked a few feet in front of me. Trying to putt from way off these greens will be very difficult as the up-slopes are very steep followed by slight down slopes to where the pins will be placed.
If this hasn’t scared you, then perhaps describing the putting experience will. These are extremely tough greens to putt with all the severe undulation and slope. All the players will be faced with many long 50-80 foot putts that will be very difficult to two putt. The thinking part of the game here will be determining where you want to leave your second shot to give yourself the easiest possible chance at par. There are a few birdie holes that need to be taken advantage of to offset the other tough holes that will produce some bogeys. With 5 par 4 holes over 500 yards (not including #5 at 490) pars will be good scores and all of these holes.
Although the course is very long, especially when I just walked the course on Friday, I was surprised at how it really didn’t play as long as you might think. This is due to the firm and generous fairways that allow you to drive the ball well down the fairway. Mike Davis commented “there will be many players that will hit 14 fairways that will still shoot well over par” that statement is going to be very true, as I mentioned before the course is set up for the second shot, which just presumes that you’ve hit a good long and straight drive. If you are driving the ball crooked and short, this will not be a fun experience!!
It’s hard not to take in all the incredible vistas from virtually every hole on the course, this is a spectacular piece of property and I now can see why the USGA chose Chambers Bay for the 2010 US Amateur and the 2015 US Open.
This link below is an article written in Golf week with predictions for this years US Amateur. My feelings weren’t hurt when I didn’t see my name….I am actually thrilled to be here as a participant!!
CHAMBERS BAY #1
This opening hole is a beast at 501 yards and will be switched out during match play into a par 5 at approx 540 yards. When #1 is switched to a par 5, number 18 becomes a par four. The tee shot here on #1 needs to find the fairway to have a chance at the green. The second shot into this green has a hard sloping ridge right of the green that can be used to carom your second shot onto the green. The bad miss here is a shot to the left that will roll down one of those steep slopes I mentioned. The second shot MUST be played to the right side of this green. The green is 40 yards long leaving a tough two putt if your a long distance from the hole.
CHAMBERS BAY #2
This short par 4 is one of the few holes where you can think birdie. The ideal tee shot will travel approx 235 yards and run anther 30 yards just short of the bunker on the left which is 286 yards off the tee. I used a 19 degree rescue off the tee leaving me about 150 yards to the middle of the green. This 40 yard long green is bisected in the middle of the green with slope from right to left which becomes more severe the further back you go into the green. Getting the right yardage into this green will be key!
CHAMBERS BAY #3
190 yard par three hole playing slightly downhill reducing the yardage by 10-15 yards depending on the breeze. The green has a steep sloping ridge in the green that slopes hard from right to left. A shot to the middle of the green will pick up speed and roll hard left and possibly roll over the green. A pin on the top right tier requires a shot to land short and right to have a chance at staying on the proper level. I hit a 6 iron first over the green and then a 7 iron that bounced up and onto the middle of the green. The front of the green is 173 yards off the tee which actually plays about 160 yards long. Take a par here and move on!!
CHAMBERS BAY #4
This is your best chance at birdie on the course. This reachable par 5 is no more difficult than the other 500+ yd par 4’s. The key here is to forget what the par is on these holes and just play each shot the best you possibly can using you HEAD not to make foolish mental errors that will usually result from being to aggressive. This wide driving area on #4 allows you to crank up a driver to this 80 yard wide fairway. The second shot will be the key as a shot off the bank on the left will allow your ball to chase onto the green. A miss in the bunker right will be a tough up and in as the pin is going to be tight to the right side. Like most of the greens #4 has tremendous slope that will allow the players to chase a shot in close here for an eagle try. The second shot plays about 10-20 yards uphill, which is offset by the firmness of the fairway short of the green.
CHAMBERS BAY #5
After a nice 100 yard climb straight uphill give yourself a chance to catch your breath and take a look at the spectacular panoramic views from atop this mountain. The tee shot is straight downhill (approx 100 feet) to a very wide and generous fairway. This hole has a second green to the left that will be utilized during the match play. The second shot into this 490 yard par 4 will require a very accurate shot. With a left pin you’ll need to keep your second shot left of the bunker, and a right or center pin a shot off the bank on the right will hopefully keep the ball on putting surface. This is yet another hole that requires a very accurate second shot to have a chance at par or better.
CHAMBERS BAY #6
This 479 yard uphill par 4 is yet another challenging hole. The tee shot needs to be played left, as there is a lot of room left that you can’t see off the tee. A tee shot right will leave a blind shot to the green at a bad angle. The second shot again is the key here. A miss right or left will most likely result in a bogey. This narrow green slopes from back to front but will still not hold a shot. I hit a 6 iron into this green that landed in the middle of the green and bounded to the back of the green. Focus is required here on the second shot as it will make a difference in your score on this tough hole.
CHAMBERS BAY #7
This uphill 508 yard monster is perhaps the toughest hole on the course and will probably play the most over par. The generous tee shot will tempt you to chew off more of the carry over the bunker than necessary. Take a safe line knowing you’ll have 200 yards uphill into this crazy green. Any shot short will roll back 50-100 yards and leave a very difficult 3rd shot YOU CANNOT MISS THIS GREEN SHORT! Once up the hill there is a backboard that should keep your ball from rolling over the green into the high fescue. The pin will be on the front with a slight uphill slope behind the hole from beck to front. You must make sure you get your second shot somewhere on the top plateau even if your off a bit right off the green you can still make a 4. I bet the stroke average on this hole will be 4.7+ again don’t worry about par, hit the right shot and make the best score you can and avoid a double bogey.
CHAMBERS BAY #8
This 607 yard par 5 has no bunkers anywhere on the hole. The hole runs atop the mountain with awesome views below of the course and the Puget Sound. The tee shot and lay up shot are actually wider than they look. Two good shots and you’ll have 140-120 left into a back pin that is just over a steep ridge in the back of the green. A large backboard over the green should be used to allow your ball to roll back down and to the right where the hole will be placed during the qualifying rounds. A shot left short will make a 2 putt up the hill very challenging. This is definitely a birdie opportunity but unlikely will anyone hit this green in two shots as it plays uphill, especially the 2nd shot.
CHAMBERS BAY #9
This 227 yard par three hole drops approx 100 feet down to the green. This makes club selection extremely difficult. I first hit a 4 iron over the green, followed by a 5 iron to the back of the green. Then a six iron off the hill on the left hit hard and rolled across the green and into the bunker. The pin will be in the front portion of the green, so club selection will be the key to this hole. If you take your shot off the hill left it will hit hard and roll to far into the bunker or to the back of the green. You’ll need to take dead aim at the left side of the green and hit the perfect shot. This will be a tough par to finish off the front nine holes played at a whopping 3,972 yards long!!
CHAMBERS BAY #10
This 436 yard par four hole will be my opening hole tomorrow at 8:35 am (live scoring at http://www.usga.org) the tee shot is one of the tightest driving holes on the course. You need to avoid the bunker right and left, but you still want to get as far down the fairway as possible due to the narrow green that awaits you. I will hit driver off this tee, but a 3 metal should be considered by the longer hitters. The shot to the green needs to be played short and left to allow for a good forward bounce off the very hard surface short of the green. The pin will be middle left which is the best pin position for a possible birdie attempt her. The shot uphill plays about 5-7 yards uphill but going long will leave a very tough downhill putt. Making a solid 4 here will be a good start to this 9.
CHAMBERS BAY #11
This 539 yard par 4 will play slightly downhill with a large sand dune in the middle of the fairway. Ideally the tee shot should be played left of the sand dune with a slight draw that will chase the ball inside 200 yards of the green. The second shot needs to be kept right as another large slope awaits shots hit at the middle or left side of the green. The green is set into a slope from right to left and features a ridge bisecting the surface lengthwise. A par is a great score here, take it and run!
CHAMBERS BAY #12
Shortest par 4 at 304 is an uphill drivable hole. There is actually more room right than you can see off the tee. Unless the wind is in my face I will hit driver off this tee in an attempt to make birdie. Even a lay up leaves an tough short shot to a pin that will be in the left middle bowl. This is the easiest pin placement on the green and many birdies will be made on this hole!
CHAMBERS BAY #13
This 512 yard par 4 has a generous fairway that slopes from left to right. The second shot will be a challenging uphill shot to a severely green from left to right. Like the other 500+ yard par 4’s you need to use your head here and play a safe shot to the left side of the green and avoid the runoff on the right of the green. A solid 4 here will keep your round going.
CHAMBERS BAY #14
This 521 yard par 4 plays significantly downhill and the target should be the bunker in the middle of the fairway (unless you fly the ball 310+) a tee shot left can catch the waste bunker and leave a very tough and long shot into this green. error to the right off this tee ensuring you’ll have a shot into this tough green that slopes right to left, and tilts towards the player on the front of the green then tilts back to the green after about 20 yards deep into the green. It will be a challenge to hold a shot on this green that lands on the surface. The second shot needs to be played short and right to have a chance of staying on the green. Shots way over the green will be tough to convert into pars. Take a four here and move onto #15.
CHAMBERS BAY #15
This picturesque view from high above the 15th green gives the player a view of the only tree on the course with the Puget Sound in the background. This downhill 246 yard par three has a very wide landing area that slopes from left to right. The pin will be placed in the far right side of the green which will be a suckers pin. The shot is to the center of left center portion of the green and prepare for a 30-40 foot birdie putt that will be slightly downhill and will break slightly from right to left. A par AGAIN is a great score here!!
CHAMBERS BAY #16
Another beautiful par 4 hole which has an important tee shot that needs to find the generous fairway that slopes from left to right. The second shot into the 16th hole needs to be accurate and on line to this narrow green. The pin will be towards the front of the green leaving a good birdie chance. The green pinches down towards the back that would be crazy to attempt getting a ball all the way to the back. The slope on the left can be used to bring a ball onto the green.
CHAMBERS BAY #17
The score card says 183 and the USGA sign says 218. I guess we’ll be playing this hole from the upper tee that allows for a better view of the green. The hole will be on the right side of the green that isn’t the target off the tee. The target will be the left side of the green conceding you’ll have a 30+ foot putt up a ridge to a tough hole placement. It makes no sense to go for the right tier unless you can hit your 8 iron 170 yards (which some of the kids can do) otherwise take it left and make a safe par here!!
CHAMBERS BAY #18
This 604 yard par 5 also alternates as a long par 4 from about 500 yards when #1 plays as a par five (will be switched in match play) The tee shot has a lot of room left and a safe line is smart since this is a lay up hole anyways. A lay up second shot of a 4-6 iron will leave about 100 yards to the middle of the green. With a back pin a shot that scoots to the back will be required. Shots played long off the backboard will roll all the way to the middle tier of the green leaving a tough two putt. This is a good birdie chance that will be dictated by the third shot. Get the right yardage and you’ll be rewarded with a short birdie putt.
I hope you enjoyed the captions and photos of this amazingly beautiful golf course. I am looking forward to playing this gem tomorrow and I hope I can take my own advice and stay patient and in the moment!
Thanks for checking this out and I’ll have a lot more coverage coming from the US Amateur daily!