A real life American links experience
Most American golfers have never experienced anything like Chambers Bay. I'm not even sure Bandon Dunes prepares you for this experience. But this much I do know: Robert Trent Jones Jr. got this one right, although quite naturally there has been some tweaking leading up to next year's U.S. Open. The course and experience is so unique you hardly notice that there's no clubhouse, just a starter's hut and snack shop and restaurant and golf shop a shuttle ride away from the course. It's walking only and quite a walk at that. Lots of elevation change, overlooking the sound. Because of the natural deep sand base that drains so well and the fescue grass, the fairways run firm and fast and there's little difference between them and the greens. And that means you can play a myriad shots to the green, often bumping them up, negotiating the endless angles both on and off the greens. This a links players delight coupled with great scenery and quirks like the trains that run along the course and the remnants of the old gravel pit that's been here for more than 100 years.
August 5, 2014
Incredible Experience, almost ready for the US Open
I played Chambers Bay a couple weeks ago on a perfect PNW day with barely a cloud in the sky. My first impression was awe as I looked down from the clubhouse to see a golf course in an old rock quarry with the bay just beyond it.
I was fortunate to play the course with no temp greens, also the USGA had just approved the length of the rough and the width of the fairways. The only disappointing aspect was the shagginess of the greens. The starter assured us they would be twice as fast next year for the US Open.
The course is beautiful, it's a bit of a fabricated links style course(due to all the sand brought in) but it has the feel of being there for a very long time. The waste bunkers are everywhere, and they are brutal. I was in the sand a lot and I paid for it.
For those who are unfamiliar with links golf, brown is beautiful, the course may look dry but it plays as it is supposed to play. I thought it was challenging, beautiful, and I definitely want to go back.
I am excited to have a major in the NW, it's been too long. Chambers Bay will be an excellent test for the pros and you need to get out and play it before June 2015.
July 28, 2014
American Links on the Puget Sound
I played Chambers Bay in a Golf Channel Am Tour 2 day event. The course is a great example of a true links course. You have to walk the course, no carts.
You need to know how to play running, ground shots. We experienced a 3 club wind on Saturday. Any shot more than 20 feet off the ground was a gamble on where the ball would end up, rarely where you wanted it to finish.
The greens were very challenging as the speeds were different from green to green. As a rule, greens of the same color played slower than the greens that had varying colors.
Overall, it was a fair and grand test of ones shot making abilities. I recommend a caddie if you are playing it for the first time. Their advise is helpful on shot placement and reading the greens.
The staff was very friendly and helpful. The amenities were average. You have to take a shuttle from the clubhouse/proshop to the driving range/practice green and 1st tee.
Pace of play was good at 4 hours but I imagine it could be slower due to walking and people not prepared for links golf.
A must play on any golfjunkie's bucket list. A great experience and I will be back.
July 26, 2014
Get a caddy for your first round here
Golfers are treated very well at Chambers Bay. The staff, including the guys in the clubhouse, the shuttle bus drivers, and the caddies (especially Veronica) make this a very nice experience.
The course will challenge you with elevation changes, smaller effective landing areas, thick rough and bunkers/waste areas.
With the US Open coming there next year, it's supposed to be a very challenging course, and it is. Try it out.
July 25, 2014
No other course like it!
Chambers Bay is unlike any course I've played and looks identical to British Open courses. Wonderful layout, extremely challenging and great fun! Golfing here is a great experience. Using local caddies makes a huge difference in your score. However, if you're just there for fun and don't care about how you score, you can save some money by pulling your own cart. The staff was very friendly and accomodating. The food at the restaurant was awesome.
July 25, 2014
Learn Links or go home
I laugh at the review here complaining about some "temp" green. At Chambers Bay, the fairways, approaches and greens are exactly the same grass. So, they can cut a green anywhere and it will play like the rest of the greens. This is true links golf and most Americans don't have a clue how to play here so they play poor and think the course is bad. Everyone I have met here who has played true links courses think it's great. Last time out I met some Canadians who come down every three months and love it.
In America we play golf in the air with high spinning shots, in Europe they play golf on the ground with low running shots. You have to learn those shots. You have to "read" each hole like you are reading a green, seeing where the ball will end up. There are no forced carries except par threes, so you can always approach on the ground. A good caddie can show you where to hit a ball close to the green that will end up by the hole, but you have to ask. Those hitting their high spinning wedge shots will be punished, just like a British Open.
This course is an incredible opportunity to learn a new kind of golf, but many here are simply to closed minded to get it.
July 17, 2014
Will they lose the US Open?
I was invited to play with a marketing group traveling from Utah. They made Chamber's Bay their destination course. I drove down from Everett, WA to play so not a big deal for me. They paid the $200+ green fees and off we went to the driving range to hit some balls.
Before teeing off we were given caddies. They made it seem like we would be complete idiots to not play with a caddy and we would be lost on the course. Course is pretty straight forward and can be played without a caddy.
As we get ready to tee off on #1 the caddy says that we will be hitting to a temp green on #1 today. A TEMP GREEN!?! How come a temp green was never mentioned when we were paying full fare? Turns out that throughout the day we played 4 temp greens and the fairways all have nets in them in the typical collection areas that you have to move your balls out of. Paid full fare to not even play golf, picked up my ball and had to drop it from the fairway almost every hole due to these nets. Also the greens were in worse shape than any muni course i have ever played. Caddy said that we would be seeing 7 different green speeds throughout the day, and he was right.
At the end of the day we were all disappointed in the course condition, especially after paying full price and nothing was ever said to us about temp greens or nets. The caddy said that this is the worse representation of Chambers Bay Golf Course he has seen, and that he is fearful of them losing the US Open.
I have been steering my friends clear of playing this course after my experience there.
June 16, 2014
I'm not so sure why everyone seems to be impressed here?
I had a few problems with:
1) The conditions of the fairways and greens. #1 seem to be a temp green, as you could not distinguish the fairway from the green, and the green was in direct route of golfer's teeing off 18. They literally had to wait until I finished the hole to tee off.
2) More disappointing and above all, was finding out this is a STRICTLY WALKING course. Unfortunately that was not explained to me or mentioned from the 3rd party I booked the tee through, until I got down to the range and asked for the location of carts. I was told then that in order to get a cart a note from doctor would have to faxed over. Considering I have titanium in my back the excitement of being there quickly died.
3) I attempted to play the front, but the pain was unbearable by the time I reached #5. This course is not for anyone with metal in their body. However the pro shop (great people) did allow me to return any time and asked that a note from my doctor be faxed in order to use the carts.
4) The staff were great. Essentially their player assistants (marshals) provided me a ride to each hold to cut down on the walking and pain.
5) For the holes I did play there was a lot of "under construction areas." And I realized they are preparing for the Open next year, but I was not expecting the amount of work including netting on #4 (just in front of the green at the top of the hill).
5) The course is located on trail, so expect skateboards, "Dude Perfect" noise, and kids when you are at the tee box, and in some cases on the green putting.
The previous day I played NewCastle, which has unbelievable views of Seattle from afar, bagpipe playing at sunset, a great staff, and extremely lush greens and fairways. My expectation was even higher for Chambers Bay. I will attempt again with a cart and provide a follow up review as well.
June 11, 2014