As the U.S. Am finishes up today at Chambers Bay, I received an excellent email that I wanted to share from one of my students that recently played there. Here is Tom Chambers take on his experience at one of Americas hidden gems. Thanks for the post Tom. I am officially jealous and will put Chambers Bay on my bucket list of places to play. Here is the website: chambersbaygolf.com
Thought you may enjoy a few stories and maybe a topic for the blog.
Last month I had a chance to play at Chambers Bay in the state of Washington. Oh and it also is hosting the 2010 US Amateur currently going on and play host to the US Open in 2015.
Since this is the first time I have played a course which is now on TV, I can appreciate what these guys are doing and how tough the course is going to play. Also amazed these guys are that good. I’ve muttered a few times, “He doesn’t stand a chance of making the 20 footer breaking 8 feet going down hill, he’ll be lucky to 3 putt”……….of course, they either cozy it up there tight or make the putt.
A little about the course. True links style golf. All the grass is fine fescue (fairways and greens). Sometimes it’s hard to tell where the fairway ends and the greens begin. From what I hear, similar to St Andrews. The course is built entirely on a bed of sand ranging from 10-50 feet deep. So it plays hard and fast. No winter rules and all the rain they get up there, it all drains really fast. The site was an old gravel and sand processing yard so some of the greyish looking sand is from the site. Bunkers all over the place although many are designated as waste areas but it can be hard to tell where the waste area ends and the hazard begins (Learn from Dustin Johnson and play them all as a bunker)
A player is not going to spin and zip the ball back. You have to play for a release and in some cases, some 10-15, even 20 yards of release with the longer irons. Pull out the British Open pointers, you will need them. Plenty of 3/4, lower flight and bump and run type shots.
There isn’t a true level lie on the course. Just about every shot will have some sort of undulation. Ball a little above/below the feet or a slight uphill/downhill lie. It’s hard to remember to choke down a little or put a little more bend in the knees. Really, just enough to make it annoying. This is also true on the tee boxes, especially the par 3′s.
First, the greens. Watching a little on the golf channel tonight, I can attest, that 11.5 on the stimp meter may sound slow, but they play a lot faster. If you are not on the correct tier, these guys will be lucky to two putt if it is going down hill. Number 1, 12 (Drivable par 4 if the pin is in the front) and 17 in my opinion can ruin your round if you are not careful. Then add to the fact the greens are made of sand, a little grain of sand can just jump up and knock the ball of line. That may actually be the toughest part, knowing you put a good stroke on the ball and watch it jump left or right just a little and you are left saying what the ???????
On the first hole, if the player has a draw in his normal ball flight, he has to stay as far left as possible. Anything left and 99% of the time, the player will be left with a nasty 50 yard blind uphill shot. Twelve is a wicked 4 tier green and if you get lazy, one can easily putt back onto the fairway. For seventeen, if the flag is on the upper right tier, short can be dead as well as long and right. If it is on the lower left tier, nothing really to worry about.
Most of the lower holes have some sort of slight elevation change, ranging from a half to a full club up or down the bag. There are some other holes with hug elevation changes like number 9. A par 3 with about 50-75 feet downhill elevation change. But I can say I hit a 9 iron some 175 yards!!! (normally a 6 iron)
Also there are plenty of tee box locations. I’m sure the USGA is going to play with them a lot this week. Somehow they stretched the course another 300-500 yards. Not sure how, I was looking for the tournament tees and couldn’t find them on some holes. They also took away a stroke on 18, which normally plays as a par 5. Today it was playing 511 yards but they can push the tees back and it can reach 550. Can you imagine a 550 yard par 4 finishing hole?!?
Very cool course and a must play if one gets to the Seattle area but you better be in shape, walking only.
And if you are wondering, I’ve played the course twice 86-90. Killed myself the first 12 holes this time around by playing east coast American golf (Fly it to a realativley soft green). My putting really saved me on the way to the house with six straight one putts.
Played another muni the next day. Jefferson Golf Course. Yes the same course that Fred Couples played when he was growing up. Actually saw him before my round when I was on the practice putting green. He was there with the Golf Channel doing a walk down memory lane before the Senior US Open. And shot an 81……….
I’ll be in for a tune up soon.