Last week I was in Seattle to meet with some tech companies.
I carved out some time to play golf because, well, priorities.
One of the courses I made time for was Chambers Bay, which is going to be home to the U.S. Open in 2015.
Chambers Bay is a links-style public course that was built in 2007 by Robert Trent Jones Jr. It was built on a former gravel mine.
It’s a seriously gorgeous golf course with jaw dropping views of the Puget Sound.
It calls itself a “pure links” course. The dunes and the shape of the course were all man made. I’ve yet to play any real links courses in Britain, but one of the people that was in my group said the course felt just like being in Ireland. Expect, on the day we were there, there was no wind and it was warm enough for shorts.
It will be interesting to see the course in 2015. It’s going to be an unusual U.S. Open, since it will look like the Open Championship with its links layout.
The course is pretty expensive for an out of towner ($219), but it’s worth the price to play it once. It’s always fun to tee it up on courses that host professional events. It gives you a better idea of how good the pros are and what the course is really like when you’re watching it on TV.
Aside from the views, the course’s strength is its greens, which are undulating and tough to figure out. (I had 41 puts. Normally, I average 36 putts a round.)
If you’re going to play once, and money isn’t an issue, you might want a caddy. He’ll help with green reading, and more importantly he’ll tell you where to hit it into the green. If you’re a yard right or left it’s the difference between a two putt and a three putt or worse.
The other course that I played with in Seattle was Gold Mountain’s Olympic course.
I played Gold Mountain after 3 PM and easily got in my round. It only cost $25. It’s probably the best value I’ve ever seen in golf. It’s the home course for the University of Washington golf team. It’s a great layout, with just the right mix of easy and tough holes.
If I lived in the area, I would actually play Olympic course more often than Chambers Bay. I thought it was more fun, slightly more diverse, and a better value.
However, Chambers Bay is going to be home to U.S. Open. If you can only pick one of the two courses, I would opt for Chambers Bay. It has better views, and it feels like a special course.
Here's an overview of the whole course from the restaurant at the top of the property. A shuttle takes you down to the driving range and the course. On the right is the par-5 eighth hole.
Here's the awesome message inscribed on the range balls. More people should take this to heart. Playing the tips of a course is generally pointless, unless you're a single digit handicapper who booms drives.
The first hole is a par five that dogs out to the right. The caddy that was in our group said the course converted it from a par-4 to a par-5 because too many people were bummed to start their rounds with bogeys. They converted a par-5 later in course to a par-4 to make up the difference.
One of the things that stands out about the course is how the fairways bleed straight into the greens. In this photo you can't spot where the fairways end and greens begin. For the U.S. Open, the plan is to spray paint the sprinkler heads so the pros know where the green starts.
Here's what the greens look like zoomed in. They're super hard greens. There were no ball marks. But, they're still pretty receptive. I kept expecting to get the back to kick forward 10 yards, but the ball would pretty much stick to the spot I hit it.
The course doesn't allow carts, which is awesome. Carts are the worst. If you don't want to carry your bag, you can get a pull cart, or a caddy.
This is the second hole. It has traps down the left, open fairway on the right. The play is come up short of the traps on the left and take a straight shot to the green. But, playing the right side is fine, too. (That's what I did. A three-putt gave me a bogey.)
A view from the fifth hole looking back at the Puget Sound. These views are all over the place, and they're fantastic.
It's hard to see here, but on the green of the par-4 seventh hole, there's a massive drop-off on the green just a few paces from the hole. I assume the pros will have to deal with this pin position. They will hate it.
This is the green of the par-5 eighth hole. A kid in my group who is going to play golf at Fordham ripped a 2-iron ~247 yards and nailed the putt for an eagle. (Me? I three putted for a bogey.)
This is a shot from the tee box of the twelfth hole, looking at the short par-3 fifteenth hole. That tree in the distance is the only tree on the property.
This is my ball sitting on the green of the easily drivable par-4 twelfth hole. It's a roller coaster to get the ball to the hole.
After a short par-4, you get a super long par-4. I hit a hooked driver, then a 3-wood into the green.
And finally, here's the par-5 eighteenth hole from the back tees where the pros will play. Normally, I prefer a par-4 to end a course, but in this case, it will add some drama to the championship. The green is wavy and has a back stop. If the pin is at the back of the green, the pros will be able to slam their shots into this green and have the ball feed back to the hole, which will be an awesome way to get birdies and eagles. (The concrete on the right side is from the original mining operation.)
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