CHAMBERS BAY A STIFF US OPEN EXAMINATION
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.
Chambers Bay Golf Course. Host venue for the US Open.