Sep
1
2010
Chambers Bay: Did It Make the Grade?
By Stephanie Wei under Amateur Golf

Because I lost our bet: Jason Kidd is an excellent human being, an incredible athlete and an even better golfer.

Even though I didn’t catch any of the US Amateur action last week at Chambers Bay, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking about it and wishing I were. Whenever someone in the golf biz hears my roots are in the Seattle area, they ask, “Have you played Chambers Bay yet?” The answer is no. At least not yet. But you bet I will before the US Open rolls into town in 2015.

I relied on my friend and fellow writer Tony Dear for updates via email on Chambers and the event. I knew the reviews would be mixed because it’s a new venue and different (and we know how the pros feel about those two traits, but the amateurs are more receptive). Being that Tony is British and a good golfer, I trust his judgment when it comes to “links golf.”

A week ago I wrote, “So? What’s the consensus? Does it suck or what? I saw [Ryan] Moore today and remembered the harsh words he had for it back in June.”

Tony’s response:

When [Moore] was here in June, the week before the US Open, they had just punched the greens apparently and they putted like crap. He actually called Mike Davis to say how bad they were.

But the course is fantastic. It’s playing much like a genuine links. I know non-golfers would look at it and think it looks awful, but what do they know, right? I spoke with Davis on the phone this afternoon. He said it was just what he wanted.

On Monday I asked Tony for the final verdict.

Really impressed. It was enjoyable to watch the players figuring out the angles.

There’s nothing more boring for spectators when they know that 99% of shots are going to end up in the same place on the green because of the firmness of the surfaces, and that was starting to happen early in the week. But Mike Davis and Larry Gilhuly sorted it out, flooding the greens on Tuesday evening and making it more playable for Wednesday. Firm and fast is great, but when you lose control of the course and players can’t avoid hitting it in certain spots no matter how good a shot they hit, then it gets a bit silly.

Thankfully that didn’t happen, and I think it turned out well. The players were very complimentary and everyone in the media center seemed to think it was great too.

Tony also wrote a piece about Chambers/the Am in Global Golf Post here.

Oh, and in case you didn’t already know, Peter Uihlein beat Peter Chung in the finals. Also, it appears that the USGA was thrilled with the Chambers Bay experiment and expects to make plenty of adjustments by the time the US Opens rolls around. Hopefully that includes making it safer for spectators.