SPECTACULAR & PERHAPS CONTROVERSIAL!
 
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On Saturday we travelled to Chambers Bay golf links near Tacoma . The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr , and opened in 2007 . Right from the outset it was in the spotlight , and was voted the best new course of the year in the USA . The course has already hosted a US amateur , and has been awarded the 2015 US Open . This is almost unheard of for a public access course , let alone a brand new one!
 
The course is located in a former sand & gravel quarry abutting the picturesque Pugent Sound , and is owned by the local Pierce Council . The course is a links course with firm fescue fairways & greens , and some gorgeous red fescues waving in the rough . Some holes proceed through enormous dunes reminiscent of Ballybunion , or the back nine at Tralee - others run along Pugent Sound  a la Whistling Straits . Others still head up and down the side of the quarry , and have significant elevation change.
 
 
 
RTJ Jnr states that he designed the course for the better player  - but that anybody can play it . Maybe so , but it would be an extremely daunting course for the lesser player . 
 
 
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We were extremely fortunate with the weather which was warm and sunny with a light breeze - perfect for golf!
The starter advised me that the course played 400 yards longer than the card because of the elevation change so I moved forward one tee - but it really didn't work for me - I still could not reach some of the longer 4's and was was too close on a number of others to play the course as it should be played . 
 
This is one of the most visually spectacular courses I have played - eye candy everywhere , and again like Whistling Straits a number of waste bunkers were used just for the look - with no strategic value - even alongside teeing grounds . You all know I like RTJ Jnr courses , and this is no exception . There is great variation in the holes , a nice routing , some super short 4's , excellent bunkering - and the course was very strong strategically . I was constantly asked to make decisions about how much to take on - both on the tee shot and the approach - all there before you to decide...
In this regard it reminded me a little of Kinloch in NZ - but much more scenic..
 
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Before we played we knew the course had also garnered some criticism for being too hard on the hacker , and that the greens were too severe . With my experience of the National in Australia I thought the enormous greens were largely appropriate - not overdone - but testing and appropriate for a windy course with large greens . However like the National, balls missing greens tended to "funnel" , or "gather" in a common area , which ends up being a mass of divots , and unplayable - this is a problem for Chambers Bay . 
 
The elevation changes were very significant and I found them impossible to club first up - but obviously some experience of the course would remedy that . My biggest issue with the course was two absolutely absurd pin positions on 12 and 13 . 12 is a short par 4 with a crazy green as it's defence if you hit the tee shot straight . There is a large mound in the centre of the green with the pin on top . You could chip or putt to 4 or 5 feet either side and roll off 20 feet . And 13 is a short climbing 5 with the green on a ledge . The back left pin was on the down slope of a steep ridge protruding into the green with a drop off behind . I looked at these 2 holes from every which way , trying to see what the architect was asking , and concluded they were 2 of the DUMBEST pins I had ever seen!
 
And controversial for a US Open - imagine fast greens and wind as well...
 
Overall this is a gorgeous course that everyone should aspire to play - I certainly hope to play again one day . It was exciting , demanding , spectacular , and fun to play . 
Favourite holes include the par 5 4th , the par 3 9th , the par 4 10th , and the par 4 16th
 
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A must play
 
pw
 
July 2011

 

 

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