Friday, December 13, 2013

64 (U.S.) / 17 (Public) Chambers Bay

October 29, 2013

Chambers Bay Golf Club has been chosen as the host course for the 2015 U.S. Open. For a relatively new course to be chosen for the U.S. Open is an incredible complement to all involved in making the course a reality.

Beyond knowing it was going to be a great course because the USGA chose it for one of the highest honors of hosting a U.S. Open, and because it was ranked #64 in the U.S., I didn't know it was going to steal my breath. My son, Wes, was able to come and visit us for a few days after he graduated basic training, and I wanted to reward him with an awesome father-son day. I had also been wanting to get down to Chambers Bay for months and this was the perfect opportunity.

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Upon arrival, this is the view we were greeted with. Just stunning!  Simply put - WOW! A perfect day weather wise. And using a new panoramic app for my iPad, I was able to snap this shot.

We made our way into the clubhouse, a building set high on top of a hill overlooking the entire course, as well as Puget Sound, and paid our green fees. I also picked up a logo ball for my cabinet. We then met the shuttle that would drive us the half mile down the hill to the range.  After hitting a few balls, Wes and I were ready to go and grabbed a ride on the shuttle another half a mile to the first hole.

Chambers Bay has an option to hire a caddie. As this was a father-son day, we opted out of the caddie and decided to enjoy the course by ourselves. The course was not crowded at all and we very rarely saw another golfer around. Chambers Bay is also a walking only course which adds to the pure golf experience. 

Next to the putting green, caddie shack, and snack bar, you are greeted by the course clock.

We hit a few balls across the putting green and they rolled true and straight.  We decided we were ready and we started our round.

Looking out from the tee box towards the first hole, there is nothing but golf course and Puget Sound. Every once in awhile, a train will go by, situated between the edge of the course and the Sound, but otherwise it is quiet and peaceful, with the sound of the wind and the seagulls. Most of the fairways are wide open and you can see just to the right of the photo where another fairway meets the first fairway seamlessly.

Above is the approach shot to the #2 green. You can also see a train going by in the left side of the photo. Also prominent is the Lone Fir, the backdrop of hole 15.

Here is my approach shot to the #3 green. As you can see, the bunkers have been allowed to grow and mature naturally. Members from the U.S. Open Committee make trips each month to check up on the course, and to their credit, they have left it as natural as possible.

The above photo is looking back down fairway #6 from the green. Every hole at Chambers Bay is unique and different, with its own personality. In the middle of the 6th fairway is a large dune that sits at 230 to the best of my recollection. If you can't go over that and fly your drive 250-260, you have a very narrow space on the left or right to hit the fairway. Up close, that dune is approximately 30 feet high.

There are also some seriously tall bunkers that can get in your way if you don't hit the ball straight.  Here is Wes left with a ridiculously tough approach shot.

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Another panoramic shot. Holes 8 and 9 are at the top of the hill and overlook the entire course and Puget Sound.

At this point, the marshal came up and advised us he didn't think we would have enough daylight to finish the round. So, I put away the phone and we played for a good while with no photos. I really need to get a digital camera.

The 15th is one of my favorite holes. You hit from an elevated tee box towards the Puget Sound. The wind blows straight into your face so you usually need an extra club or two depending on how hard the wind is blowing. A lone fir tree stands guard over the back of the green. I hit probably the luckiest shot of my golf life on this hole.  The wind caught my tee shot, pushed it left to about 10 yards left of that pot bunker on the left side of the photo. The ball caught the hill just right, rolled around the edge of the pot bunker, between the first two stakes at the edge of the green, and came to rest about three feet from the hole.  Sometimes lucky is better than good.

One of the few touches that the U.S. Open Committee has added to Chambers Bay is this bunker in the middle of the 18th fairway. The front edge sits at roughly 220 and the back edge at 235. Like #6, there is a very tight area to go left or right and still be on the fairway.  To give an idea of how deep that bunker is, Wes is 6 feet tall.  If you find yourself stuck in there, you are probably going to card a bogey or double or worse. Luckily, the Puget Sound is to your back, and if there is a wind, it pushes your ball down the fairway. Just after this bunker, the fairway slopes down and to the right towards the green, with a large sand area that follows the right side of the fairway almost all the way down to the green.

As we played through the course, it continually grew on me. By the time we had finished #6, the course had struck a cord with my soul. There are very few times in life where you feel a deep bond with anything. Chambers Bay grabbed me that way. It was one of those golf experiences I can't quite describe as anything but special. Every hole was different and special. The golf course lifted my spirit and made me feel as if I was a part of it. I feel Chambers Bay was a golf course built specifically for me and it is my favorite course anywhere in the world that I have ever played. It is the reason Links courses are my favorite type of course. And it is why I will play Chambers Bay every single chance I get. It is also the first course I have seriously debated becoming a member of, even though it is 40 miles from home.

It is no wonder why Chambers Bay was chosen for the 2015 U.S. Open. It is a magical course with 18 unique holes. Next time I play, I plan to take many more photos.

As we finished up 18, the sun was setting over the Olympic Mountains in the distance and Puget Sound close by. We took the shuttle the half mile or so back up the tall hill to my truck.  As we looked back, it was a stunning sunset and I snapped my last photo of the day.

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I look forward to other courses in my quest to play the top 100 in the world and the U.S. But it will be hard for any course to give me the same soul-bonding experience that Chambers Bay did.

It is now my home.

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