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The Ever-Changing Chambers Bay “Mike has this cool matrix chart


where if he uses a specific hole loca- tion, he has specific tees he will use,” Charlton said. “And from those tees, he has marked points in the fairway he thinks players will utilize to score the best.” Six months before the walking-


only municipal course of Pierce County officially opened, the USGA was invited to Chambers Bay for a course tour. Davis, Gilhuly and fellow USGA staff members were joined by an ensemble representing Chambers Bay, including the design team of Robert Trent Jones Jr., Jay Blasi and Charlton.


The USGA was intrigued by this


new course in the Pacific Northwest that had been built on a reclaimed sand quarry. “The course is sitting on 70 to 100


feet of pure sand,” said Gilhuly with a smile.


It was the USGA’s equivalent of


sitting on a pile of gold. A sand base means impeccable drainage—even in wet Washington—and the ability to dial in the firmness of a potential championship setup.


The USGA was also aware that it


had never staged a U.S. Open in the Pacific Northwest. By the second hole of their tour, Davis and Gilhuly were already day- dreaming about how they could make Chambers Bay just the third munici- pal golf course to host the U.S. Open. “I think the USGA came out cau-


tiously optimistic,” Charlton said. “It became obvious to us after they were walking and seeing the golf course that they felt that they had something special, and that this could be some- thing very good for both the USGA and golf in general.” Just eight months after it opened, Chambers Bay was awarded the 2010 U.S. Amateur and 2015 U.S. Open. “It frankly happened faster than we


could have imagined,” Charlton said. And the accolades have kept com-


ing. Golfweek named Chambers Bay the No. 2 municipal course in the nation, and Golf Magazine ranks it the No. 8 public course in the country.


28 / NCGA.ORG / FALL 2014


Even so, the metamorphosis of Chambers Bay continues. Six new tee boxes were added


before the U.S. Amateur, and six more were built after digesting that championship. An additional tee box was con-


structed on No. 9 in 2012, but its origins come from that initial USGA course visit. As the group was walking to the second landing area of the par- 5 eighth hole, it realized Davis had disappeared. They chuckled when they finally found him. Davis had scaled down a 100-foot hillside and was eying an alternate tee box for the par-3 ninth hole, next to a practice area. The tee box Davis uncovered will be used for two days of the champi- onship, and it is quite the juxtaposing approach. The original tee box unveils one of the most memorable shots on the course—a 100-foot downhill par 3 over an exotic and intimidating waste bunker. That perch yields an unobstructed emperor’s view of the entire course beneath you, and the Puget Sound serves as the backdrop for your swing. The tee boxes range anywhere


from 168 to 227 yards, without fac- toring a downhill shot that feels like you are hitting off nearby Mt. Rainer, or the ever-present wind puffing in your face.


But swinging nearly 90 degrees


to the right of the original tee box is the shot Davis discovered, a new hole that actually climbs 5 feet uphill over 220 yards, takes on a right-to-left crosswind, and must carry a mon- strous rising bunker. That angle also allows players to reach corners of the green that weren’t accessible from the elevated tee. “Discovering some of these places


and new holes with the USGA has been very fun, “ Charlton said. “The ninth tee is a perfect example. Mike was looking over his shoulder for stuff all the time.” The two par 3s on the back nine


(Nos. 15 and 17) offer similarly scin- tillating shots with diverse tee boxes


The seventh hole


The third hole features a strong bank to the right of the green that players can use to feed their shots down the putting surface. The 11th green (to the right) also features a similar strategy.


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