CHAM­BERS BAY A STIFF US OPEN EX­AM­I­NA­TION

Inside Golf - - US Open Preview - David New­bery david@in­sid­e­golf.com.au

IT will be in­ter­est­ing to see how the play­ers re­act when they take on mas­sive rolling fair­ways, tow­er­ing dunes and un­du­lat­ing greens, cou­pled with the un­pre­dictable coastal winds, dur­ing this year’s US Open at Cham­bers Bay – a Robert Trent Jones II master­piece.

There just might be a few moans and groans as the play­ers tackle this links course cre­ated to be an in­spired trib­ute to the an­cient links-land of Scot­land.

Well, this is the US Open and it’s about pro­vid­ing a thor­ough ex­am­i­na­tion.

The course will def­i­nitely test the best play­ers in the game, but there are a cou­ple of things they won’t have to worry about.

They won’t have to con­cern them­selves with hit­ting it in the wa­ter – there isn’t any.

Well, there is the bay bor­der­ing the 16th and 17th, but it shouldn’t come into play.

An­other thing the play­ers won’t have to worry about is play­ing pin-ball in the trees – there aren’t any trees.

Well, there is one lone iconic Fir lo­cated be­hind the par-3 15th green.

like a light­house, it acts as a land­mark across the course. The tree is vis­i­ble from nu­mer­ous holes, but never is it more no­tice­able than at the short hole. So, what can the play­ers ex­pect? In the lead-up to the US Open, four lo­cal

pros – broth­ers Michael and An­drew Put­nam, An­dres Gon­za­les, and Troy Kelly – played there and pro­vided an in­sight into the course’s sub­tleties.

Michael Put­nam, who has played in three US Opens, says Cham­bers Bay is a chal­leng­ing, but fair course.

“This is a Bri­tish Open-style course with fes­cue greens and firm fair­ways,” he said on the club’s web­site www.cham­bers­bay­golf.com

He added that any pre­vi­ous US Open ex­pe­ri­ence prob­a­bly won’t ap­ply here.

Gon­za­les, who has played in one US Open, be­lieves it will be a test keep­ing the ball on the short grass.

“You have to keep the ball on the ground and roll it around the course rather than hit­ting high shots,” he said.

Kelly, play­ing Cham­bers Bay for the first time, made an in­ter­est­ing ob­ser­va­tion.

“I think it’s re­ally go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing with the weather be­cause it could be cold, rainy and then there’s the wind,” he said. “If the wind gets up it could be nasty.

“It’s go­ing to be a tough test. I’m tired from walk­ing the course for the first time – it’s quite a hike.”

Michael Put­nam, who plays the course reg­u­larly, said he was learn­ing new things about the course all the time.

“There are plenty of places where not to go,” he said.

Brother An­drew found him­self in one of those “no-go” ar­eas – the new fair­way bunker on the 18th hole.

The bunker is so deep it re­quires stairs.

But the pros will know it’s ‘game on’ as early as the 151m par-3 third hole.

The hole is called Blown Out, aptly named be­cause of an in­vis­i­ble haz­ard called wind.

A deep bunker on the left guards the kid­ney-shaped green and a swale off the putting sur­face col­lects shots struck too long.

The play­ers will have to work hard here to avoid a score­card blowout.

Cham­bers Bay has mul­ti­ple tee po­si­tions with the for­ward tees mea­sur­ing just 5100 yards, but the course will stretch to 7585 yards (6935m) dur­ing the US Open.

The beauty of Cham­bers Bay’s greens is that the chip shot can be of any va­ri­ety – a putt, bump-and-run or a lob-wedge for the brave player.

All th­ese op­tions re­quire nerve and care­ful think­ing due to the course’s tight lies.

I’m sure stunning Cham­bers Bay golf course will chal­lenge the play­ers more than it will frus­trate them.

Pho­tos cour­tesy USGA.

Cham­bers Bay Golf Course. Host venue for the US Open.

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