Archive for the ‘ Chambers Bay ’ Category

Chambers Bay

cape fear

Chambers Bay
6320 Grandview Dr.
University Place, WA 98467
Navy Tees: 7,109 yards/Rating 74.4/Slope 130

Chambers Bay blew me away. Just a few days removed from playing the Robert Trent Jones II designed, Scottish links-style golf course on a sunny and windless 70-degree day, I can’t get the experience out of my head. Nor do I want to.  The feelings I have towards Chambers Bay rival my wandering lust for places like Crystal Downs, Wolf Creek, Austin Country Club, Oak Tree Country Club’s Men’s Course and Torey Pines.

Prior to visiting Chambers Bay, I fully understood the hype. This relatively new course had been designated by Golf Magazine, and a handful of other publications as 2007’s Best New Golf Course. Matt Ginella, Golf Digest’s senior travel editor (and one of my favorite golf/travel writers), recently included Chambers Bay in a list of his Top 10 Public Courses. Even more impressive, the couse will serve as the host of the 2010 U.S. Amateur and 2015 U.S. Open championships.

My expectations were high, but then I had heard stories from friends that the golf course was still maturing and needed more time, that the greens were shaggy, slow and hard. Even Kemper Sports, which manages the 250+ acre property, admitted to me last week in an email that they were struggling with course conditions after a hard winter. So, needless to say, those expectations were tempered a bit before my arrival and for the purposes of this review.

Hardly necessary. The golf course was in immaculate condition.

The minute I stepped on the practice putting green, which features a large Rolex clock, a transformation took place, and suddenly I was in Scotland. Tacoma no longer existed. All around me were massive sand dunes covered with native grasses and emerald faiways winding through said dunes, all bordered by the deep blue waters of the Puget Sound. There was even a train track, located in between the course and the Sound, invoking visions of St. Andrews and the famous Road Hole.

Chambers Bay's signature par-3, the 139-yard 15th, better known as Lone Fir Chambers Bay’s signature par-3, the 139-yard 15th, better known as Lone Fir

Accepting the challenge of Chambers Bay meant stepping back to what were the tips that day, and playing the course at a listed 7,109-yards. Prior to teeing off, the starter briefed me on the course conditions, provided a few ‘local knowledge tips’ and said the course would play more like 7,400-yards, considering its sea-level location and the heavy Pacific Northwest air.

Needless to say I forsaw a struggle coming, especially on the 1st hole, a beautiful par-4 listed at 491-yards that stretches towards the Sound. Thanks to the starter’s tip, I only had 220-yards left to the hole on the 1st following what seemed like a solid drive.

After having played a nice hybrid approach to about 40-feet and three-putting for bogey, and then following a similar pattern on the 2nd, I got into a groove. From the tee, I began belting the driver, and on the greens adjusted to the speed and grain. And after a birdie on the 465-yard, par-4 5th the course began to reveal its nature — holes that look crazy difficult from the tee box are amazingly playable. For example, on the 5th I drove the ball 330-yards from the elevated ‘Free Fall’ tee, hit a 9-iron approach to the uphill green and used the amazing contours that surround Chambers Bay’s greens to cozy the ball up to the flagstick.

The front nine at Chambers Bay allows players to finish with a flourish on the 8th and 9th holes after getting abused by the demonic, uphill, 482-yard 7th. The 8th is a narrow, but short 557-yard par-5, and the 9th is a 202-yard par-3 that features an elevated tee standing at least 100-feet above the green below. When the pin is located front-left, good shots tend to funnel towards the flagstick, which should make this hole a prime viewing spot during the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Open.

Chambers Bay’s back nine is much like the front in that there are holes (#’s 11, 14 and 16) that test the limits of your golfing skill, but others, like the 12th, 15th and 18th that reward good play with birdie opportunities. As with the finishing hole on the front nine, the 541-yard, par-5 18th should prove a dramatic viewing spot for the birdie-hungry galleries attending the USGA’s upcoming  championships.

Finishing Touch: the amazing 18th hole at Chambers Bay Finishing Touch: the amazing 18th hole at Chambers Bay

Chambers Bay advertises itself as ‘pure links golf’, and more than lives up to its billing. And it exceeds the hype created by Golf Magazine, Golf Digest and others. It is a golfing experience that allows players to play the game as the Scottish intended, and one that will stick in their minds for years to come.

Coming up with a list of ‘Signature Holes’ from Chambers Bay is like trying to name your favorite flavor of ice cream. It ain’t easy.

Signature Holes:

#5 tee#5 Free Fall — standing atop the elevated 5th tee complex players witness amazing views of the golf course layed out in front of the Puget Sound. Though this hole is listed as a 465-yard par-4, it plays shorter than advertised and offers real birdie opportunities.

#7 Humpback — in stark contrast to #5, this 482-yard par-4 offers little hope for birdie. A menacing dog-leg right, the 7th requires a forced carry from the tee and an extreme-uphill approach shot, which in my case required a 3-wood. The humpbacks this hole was named after sit just 60-yards from the green and have the potential to knock down low angled approach shots. 

#15 Lone Fir — this 139-yard par-3, with incredible views of the Puget Sound behind it, also houses the golf course’s only tree, a lonely Fir that stands tall. The well-protected green requires careful club selection, but also a respite after the evil Cape Fear (#14).

#18 Tahoma — Standing on the 18th teebox, golfers are exposed to dramatic views of the Sound and the golf course, but also historic, industrial remnants of the gravel mine that once dominated this landscape. In terms of playbility, the 541-yard par-5 offers an excellent birdie chance and a memorable finish to a dynamic golf course.

Value: At $149 during the week and $169 on weekends, Chambers Bay is a steal. Pierce County residents receive a whopping $60 discount.

Walkability: Chambers Bay is a walking-only golf course. Rent a caddy, or bring your push cart because motorized carts are forbidden, minus a doctor’s note. Truth be told, the golf was so exciting the walk seemed a breeze.

#1 tee - click to enlarge #5 tee - click to enlarge #7 green -click to enlarge

#9 green -click to enlarge #10 green - click to enlarge 11 sign - click to enlarge

#12, The Narrows - click to enlarge #16 tee - click to enlarge 18th green - click to enlarge

rolex clock nice view historical remnants

–end