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for the public), and No. 16 became a drivable par 4 during the final round. But there were other plays in the

playbook that weren’t called. No. 12, that short par 4 with the punchbowl green players were rocketing their drives around, has a tee box that transforms the hole into a blind par 3 to a putting surface tucked behind a giant dune.

That setup would have been an

homage to Old Tom Morris’ famous Dell Hole at Lahinch Golf Club in Ireland. “It would have been just like

Lahinch,” Charlton said. “Hit a blind shot over that white aiming rock and everything. We’ve always said, ‘Gosh that would be fun to play as a par 3 every now and then.’” Charlton and RTJ II challenged

the very definition of what is a tee box, what is a fairway, and what is a green. The golden and green speckled fescue fairways seamlessly transi- tioned into the speedy greens. The tee markers were set wide enough to include uneven lies, so a right-handed player could tee off with an uphill stance to promote a draw on a dogleg left, if so inclined. And even wilder—the original

concept for Chambers Bay (and it was even proposed at Poppy Hills) was a

course with no tee markers, and no par. Just endless options. “I commend the USGA for really

going outside its box,” Charlton said. “And we went outside our box when we designed it. “From a personal perspective, I

had extremely educational experiences working with Mike Davis. I’ve never been around a guy who reads a golf course, and the potential of a golf course, better.” Davis believes that the ultimate

way to challenge the world’s best players is to test their mental tough- ness and decision-making under duress. Chambers Bay also challenged the players physically—it’s nearly a 10-mile walk with 200 feet of eleva- tion change. “Since all of these guys are so good

technically and mechanically, Mike believes you need to test their mental toughness and their ability to adjust on the fly with tee positions.” As 2006 U.S. Open champ Geoff

Ogilvy said, responding to some of the griping he heard from players about the USGA straying from a traditional U.S. Open experience at Chambers Bay, “You have to use your brain, which is a rare thing in modern golf, and something we’re not very good at.” But the best did use their brains to

create some brilliant golf. They even enlightened Charlton with the way they saw the course. “We’ve envisioned shots on that

golf course for years, when it was just sand,” Charlton said. “To see the best players in the world absorb it and figure out how it best serves their games under championship conditions was thrilling. “But one of the things that sur-

prised me is many of the slopes we built to be very useful for the player under everyday circumstances started to become almost hazardous in these firm and fast conditions. “When guys found slopes that

they wanted to use, they would try to hit a shot that was arcing into the slope, so it would come down, deaden a little bit, and then start to roll, instead of taking a big bounce. I thought that was fascinating. I never thought about it like that.” When the game’s greats got Chambers Bay dialed in, the course ignited an explosive finish. Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy and Branden Grace making valiant runs in the final round, before Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen wowed and stunned us all with that gripping and gut-wrenching conclusion. “I was really happy that the course

yielded to good scoring,” said Charl- ton about eight players finishing un- der par, and another eight shooting 67 or better in the final round. “I thought the way the course presented itself to the players was fantastic. How can you complain about the setup when Oosthuizen is shooting a 29 on the back nine?”

Chambers Bay certainly delivered

an incredibly compelling and dramatic U.S. Open, complete with spectacular waterfront views and unique strategy. So, what’s next for Chambers Bay? “I think what will come out of

The famous Dell Hole at Lahinch Golf Club in Ireland

the U.S. Open is some very smart people will process the week,” Charl- ton said. “I personally would love to see the women. It’s so flexible. If Pinehurst can host back-to-back U.S. Opens, then Chambers Bay would be perfect.”

SUMMER 2015 / NCGA.ORG / 21

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