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The Ever-Changing Chambers Bay C


hambers Bay didn’t open in 2007. It was born then. Chambers Bay is a living, breathing, heaving, flowing and ever-growing maze. The


site of the 2015 U.S. Open traverses fescue-covered dunes and expansive blowout bunkers, climbs 215 feet of elevation while half-piping through a 230-acre bowl, and spins around an intoxicating and omnipresent view of the Puget Sound. In the seven years since it entered


the golfing world, Chambers Bay has sprouted 12 new tee boxes, and infinite ways to play each authentic links hole. “It continues to evolve,” says Bruce


Charlton, a key cog of the Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course Archi- tects design team that spectacularly sculpted Chambers Bay less than an hour south of Seattle. Chambers Bay is the sworn enemy


of the printed scorecard, a golf rebel that refuses to be defined by one championship set of tees. The general public picks up a


scorecard that reads 7,165 yards and par 72 from the back Navy tees. But that is simply one way to navigate the choose-your-own-adventure that is Chambers Bay.


The 2010 U.S. Amateur puts


down 7,742 yards and par 71 in its records, but the tees ebbed and flowed throughout the week as much as the white-capped surf that lines the right side of the 16th and 17th holes. The back page of the yardage book


comes up with the Teal tees tipping out at 7,940 yards, but that would be a boring, fun-sucking and saturat- ing display of machismo—three par 5s more than 600 yards, three par 4s more than 508 yards, and a front nine totaling 4,102 yards. “We could go to 8,000 yards, but


there really is no need to,” said Larry Gilhuly, the Northwest Director of the USGA who has coached Cham- bers Bay through its infancy. This year’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst


was certainly a historic setup, with the USGA’s decision to eliminate what has always been its signature and infuriating feature—shoe-swallowing rough.


But next year’s U.S. Open takes


one untangled step further. It won’t look anything like the previous 114 championships. “If these guys don’t come out and study the course beforehand, I think they are going to be shocked,” Charlton said. “They’re going to feel


like they came to the British Open a month early.” There is certainly an Open Cham-


pionship vibe. There’s even a toot- ing train that chugs along the Puget Sound by the 16th and 17th holes. Firm and fast fescue fairway


sprawls from sideline to sideline on each hole, until it crashes into a towering dune, tumbles into a bunker, or seeps into a rolling and rollicking green. “We wanted the golf course to


really shine once the ball hits the ground,” Charlton said. “Everyone on our team drew upon our experiences of playing links golf. We looked at the ways things were done at Royal Dornoch, St. Andrews, Turnberry and some of the places that are just great tests of links golf.” In the Pacific Northwest, the


greens (and 30 yards in front of them) play and putt similar to the big and bold fescue designs at Pacific Dunes and Old Macdonald. Sometimes they are exposed, but


repel shots with steep and rippling don’t-miss-it-there slopes. Sometimes they hide behind a lone and seem- ingly magnetized pot bunker. Some- times they are lined by gorgeous, yet ghastly blowout bunkers. Sometimes


26 / NCGA.ORG / FALL 2014


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