Bruno's Blog

A Day At Chambers Bay PDF Print E-mail

This very modest clubhouse overlooks the entire course and the Puget Sound at Chambers Bay, site of the 2010 U.S Amateur and 2015 U.S Open.



It's never advisable to overload golf and mega miles of driving into a golf excursion,

and certainly not a short one . . . but I could not deny my appetite to see and play

Chambers Bay during my trek to Bandon Dunes and the Pacific Northwest.Back in

October in Puerto Rico, I was lucky enough to spend some time getting to know

Bruce Charlton (design associate of Robert Trent Jones II and co designer of

Chambers Bay), it was during that meeting that the fire was stoked for this visit to

the home of the 2015 U.S Open.

The drive from Bandon Dunes back to University Place, Washington is a long one

(well over 400 miles) and just about 7 hours, so the idea of driving that far after

having walked 5 rounds in two and a half days, then getting out of the car and

playing one the toughest courses in the U.S, would be a challenge, even for a links

lunatic like myself.

Luckily, on the shuttle to the driving range (which is a ways from the pro shop), I

met a gentleman named Ralph Cummins from Virginia and since we were each on our

own, we agreed to tee it up together at 2:12 p.m pacific time.Ralph is a fellow die

hard linkster who belongs to Kinloch GC, and travels across the pond every year with

the same group of guys to play links golf in Ireland, and Scotland.Joining us was

another rogue golfer who goes by the name of Ahjay.Ahjay is from India, and is an

amazing ball striker who travels back and fourth from Chicago and Seattle.

Carl, Ralph's Caddy was a great looper, but he also helped fill the time by telling us

tales from the U.S Amateur in 2010 . . . as well as showing us the modifications

underway for the 2015 U.S Open, he played the part of host quite well.

It was a great day in the Pacific Northwest, around 55 degrees, sunny and

very little wind to speak of, quite different from the 5 rounds at Bandon.Chambers

played soft and long, not the firm conditions I'd seen on TV during the U.S Am, and

certainly not the terra firma of the southern Oregon coast.After all, this is the

Seattle area where it stays cool and it rains often (luckily not on this day).I'm

planning a return trip after all of the U.S Open modifications are finished, so hopefully

we'll get the links like experience then.



This is the view from the pro shop, the vista is amazing, and the #2 ranked Muni course in the U.S awaits below




The Rolex clock overlooks the practice green and first tee




Carl, and Ralph (right) with me under the "Lone Fir"






This bunker in the middle of the 18th fairway is a good 12 feet deep, being in here is atleast a full one shot penalty if not more . . . although Ralph didn't hit his tee shot in the pot bunker, he couldn't resist the urge to try the escape.



Carl mentioned that PGA Tour pro Ryan Moore can be seen around here playing

often, so he may be a good choice when the open arrives in '15.It wasn't a great

scoring day for any of us (but luckily I kept it under 80 atleast), but it was a very

memorable experience in a magnificent setting.

A few of the holes have temporary greens (as the original putting surfaces are being

modified to make them more suitable for our national championship in 3 years) and a

few tees are being lengthened, so Chambers is in temporary flux.I was told in the

spring by the people at Chambers that these changes will be finished in the next few

months, so call ahead if you're in need of playing the actual U.S Open set up, but be

careful because that will be well over 7700 yards.

After the round, we had dinner in the small restaurant within the clubhouse at

Chambers (the food and service from Joe behind the bar were first class) and

watched first round Masters coverage . . . Ralph and I exchanged contact info, then

it was a mad dash to Seattle-Tacoma Airport for the red eye flight back to West Palm

Beach.I arrived back on the east coast on Masters Friday, weary from too much golf,

too much driving, and too much airport time . . . but I can't wait to do it all over



To see our full feature on the golf course, go to our course review section.

If playing U.S Open courses in beautiful settings is your thing, then you'll want to

visit Chambers Bay.To find out more info on Chambers Bay, click the link below:








A Journey To Bandon Dunes PDF Print E-mail
Written by BRUNO   






Just like every other golfer, I've heard and read so much about Bandon Dunes.

I thought it was a no brainer to finally put the south coast of Oregon atop my

LinksNation to do list.



Could such a place possibly live up to all the hype?Very few places do, and very few

have ever received the accolades that Bandon has.The good news is Bandon Resort is

open to the public, so issues over access don't exist, but there are a few elements

about Bandon that make it more challenging to access than most.First off getting to

Bandon is not an easy chore, but has recently been made easier by flights in and out

of North Bend Airport (which is only 30 miles away).Of course flights to North Bend

are less frequent and more pricey than those going to Portland, Seattle and Eugene . . .

but it is only 30 minutes away.



Since I had determined that I would also go up and review Chambers Bay just

outside of Tacoma, Washington -I traveled the lengthiest route or so it seemed.

When you're traveling from Palm Beach to Atlanta, and Atlanta to Seattle, then driving

from Seattle to South Oregon . . . you probably need to be in therapy (I think many

people who know me might agree with that statement).Arriving in Seattle at midnight

on a Sunday, there was over 400 miles between me and Bandon Resort.By the time I

retreived my sticks and luggage and caught the shuttle to the rental car agency, it was

1am west coast time . . . and the peanuts and Coca Cola that Delta distributed on the

flight just wasn't enough fuel to make the night go much further.I opted for the Denny's

within sight, and after a mediocre french toast slam, I was gonna try to knock off some

miles and get to Portland.I almost made it to Portland when my eyes said "No Mas" . . .

so I pulled into a motel 6 at 3:30 a.m west coast time and crashed for 2 1/2 hours, knowing

that atleast 5 hours of driving remained.


A few weeks before the journey it was recommended to me to check out this place

just outside of Portland called McMenamins Pub Course.Usually when somebody takes

the time to go out of their way to tell me about a place, I make every effort to see

it for myself.There wasn't going to be much time, but I had to see what Frank from

Lake Worth, Florida was talking about.





From the moment I arrived at McMenamins (it was cold and wet - about 38 degrees),

it felt as if I'd just arrived in Ireland.There is a pub, beautiful gardens, and the structures

have an old European style.I had no more than an hour at the most to explore the place

. . . that meant playing the course was out, but I was o.k with that since I was jet lagged

and exhausted (and had a 1:50 tee time at Bandon Resort - Pacific Dunes later that day).


I've done a few features where I haven't actually played the course and there is something

about that experience that I really enjoy.First of all, the expectation of shooting a score can

be a distraction from seeing all of the details and observing the land and how it was shaped

to create the layout.Also the act of executing golf shots and working a camera can be chaos

. . .  I'm certainly not complaining about the gig, but there are times when one is not conducive

to the other.Luckily the grounds crew was out there performing aeration on the greens, so the

obsessive golfer in me had no choice but grab the camera bag and hit the trail to the first hole.



McMenamins 13th at day break



As I walked up and down the the dirt/gravel pathway leading to each hole, I realized

what a unique little course it is.No hole is over 100 yds and the variety is masterful.I

walked away thinking "is there another par 3 course in America that has 20 holes and

all are under 100 yards.The photos can't possibly convey the absolute charm that is




 McMenamins 19th hole   (not a typo, the Pub Course has 20 holes)



As previously mentioned . . . . Hole 20




Next it was off to Bandon Resort 250 miles away.The scenery on the drive to Bandon

is beautiful, but is also very treacherous.The roadways twist and curve along mountains,

lakes, cliffs and they are often wet.There are many small towns along the path to Bandon,

one of which is a small logger town called Drain, Oregon.I was working up an appetite from

all of the driving, so I stopped in a local mini mart type grocery store . . . as I walked in the

store I realized that everyone in the store was staring at me as if I had just stepped out of

an alien spaceship.I guess slacks and a sweater were foreign garb to the wrangler wearin

flannel plaid nation.I purchased an old school bottled Coke, a few chicken tenders and booked

outta there before the locals decided what they wanted to do with the city boy in the fancy

clothes, it felt like a Twin Peaks episode.







Finally I arrived at Bandon Dunes Resort, my tee time at Pacific Dunes was in 15

minutes, so there was enough time to meet the head pro Michael, change into some

all weather gear in case the weather changed, and head to the first tee.I knew the

round would not yield my best golf considering all of the travel and lack of sleep,

but I was excited to tee it up on the #1 public golf course in the U.S, Pacific Dunes.



Behind the 11th at Pacific Dunes




I was paired with three great guys from Colorado, Colt pictured wearing white, Don (in blue)

and Colt's Dad Jay (in the red).They had played Pacific Dunes earlier in the week, so they

guided me around.I had absolutely no game on the front nine other than a few smoke &

mirrors up and downs early on, certainly not a stellar ball striking display, but the golf course

is truly a masterpiece and in the most beautiful setting imaginable.On the back nine I finally

shook off the fatigue and played a version closer to normal my game.The boys from mile high

country were a blast to play with, so much so that we all had dinner together after the round.

If you're fortunate enough to play Pacific Dunes and have dinner at Pacific Grill, do yourself

a favor and order the double cut pork chop (with the smoked onion honey glaze) you won't be

sorry.We finished the meal by watching Kentucky finish off Kansas in the NCAA Basketball Finals.

Soon after, I headed back to my retreat at the resort and thought of all of the great public

access courses I've been fortunate enough to experience, and tried to figure out where Pacific

lined up on my own personal list.As I cranked up the fireplace, and started the bath water

I began to make a mental list of the great public layouts in the U.S where I'd been:Bethpage,

Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, TPC Sawgrass, Pinehurst, World Woods, Whistling Straits, Kiawah

Island Ocean, and Erin Hills.Did Pacific measure up to those tracks? I thought about why each of

those courses are so revered . . . by the time I layed down to sleep, my thoughts had reversed -

do those courses measure up to Pacific?It was at that moment that I realized how special Keiser

& Doaks creation is.After a full day, I was overdone and crashed.Bandon Dunes and Bandon Trails

lie in wait, I would have my work cut out for me on day two.



Bandon Clubhouse


Day two was another full slate, but thankfully no travel was involved.I had a 7:50 a.m tee

time at Bandon Dunes and a 1:50 time at Bandon Trails.As I checked the weather forecast

I realized that there might not be much golf played on this day, it was 38 degrees and

raining hard.In Bandon that is not unusual weather, and I knew that beforehand so I

geared up and headed to the course for my starting time.There was no point in trying to

warm up on the range, this would be an exercise in surviving the conditions, not making a

score or even reviewing the course.There was me and two other lunatics waiting to go off

the first tee, that's it.I then realized that my wool cap wouldn't repel water, so I headed

inside the pro shop for a Gortex Bucket hat to keep the keppe warm and dry.We teed off

and walked down the fairway, I had no idea who these guys were but I knew none of us

would finish this round.I hit a surprisingly decent drive down the right center, an adequate 5

iron just left of the green and a perfect bump & run chip into the bank that should have left

a tap in par, but the greens were under water, even taking your putter out was useless.By

this time the ice cold water was running down my legs and into my shoes.When we reached

the 3rd tee it was clear to me that this round was just not gonna happen . . . then it became

clear to the two other nameless linksters next to me, they looked at me & the three of us

sloshed our way back in.


Lakeside - Chrome Lake Resort accommodations



I retreated back to Chrome Lake suite #442 and really thought it would be a day of R&R

and watching Masters media coverage.The radar looked ominous, but there looked to be

a possible break in the weather around 1p.m, so with guarded optimism I left the door

open to try Bandon Dunes again later, but the 36 hole plan had no shot.By 12:30 the

weather broke, and I bolted to the same tee box I had started on 5 hours previous.The sun

was shining, it was nearly 50 degrees and the true linksland had drained better then liquid

plumber on a faulty sink.Only a lob wedge approach into the 1st (5 iron needed in the a.m

during the frozen quagmire).I walked Bandon Dunes and finished at 4pm (barely over 3

hours), a score was there for the taking, I limped in with a 75 . . .  a front side 35 had me

hoping for better.


Bandon Dunes is one of the most fun and memorable experiences one could have on a golf

course.The layout had great variety, magnificent seaside views, and holes that just dazzled

your senses.Hard to imagine two rounds more fulfilling than walking both Pacific & Bandon

in nice weather.


The par 3 -12th at Bandon Dunes



Was the original plan of 36 holes still possible? I wasn't sure, but I was determined to find out.

I dashed around the corner to the Crenshaw/Coore layout known as Bandon Trails and teed it up

hoping I could walk another 18 in 3 hours or so.


My body wasn't up to it, but my mind was doing a hard sell . . . so the body got dragged along

against it's will.(As I write this piece, it's a week since this journey and I'm still recovering).

It's all walking at Bandon, if you can make it through 36 - your third go around is on the house

. . . good luck with that one. I played as a single all afternoon, that was the only possible way

to cover that much ground in so little time, and luckily the early rain kept the masses away.I

had to go through one group of Bandon employees on the par 3 fifth, and did'nt see another

golfer until I reached the tee on the uphill par 5 sixteenth.Finally on the 18th tee, I caught up

with the group and had to wait as the sun was setting on the Pacific.It was at that moment

that mother nature decided to make it rain. I was thankful that the forecasted late afternoon

precipitation had held off until I was nearly done with the trek around another of the finest

 layouts America has to offer.My six foot par putt poured into the jar as the sun hit bottom.


The par 4 tenth at Bandon Trails                                                                           (what's the blue object in the trees?)





Bandon Trails to me was so much more than I expected, Coore/Crensahaw are masters at what

they do.If you argued that Trails was the best course on the property, I might not totally agree

. . . but I'd have no argument to counter with.Almost a hidden gem - if you will.

After the 36 hole walk in 6 hours I was wiped out and sore, so the only way to go was to order

room service and another session in the tub.Another 2 rounds were on the slate for day three,

so I crashed.Day three was another iffy forecast, and once again I dashed to the tee to try to

get out ahead of everyone.



Old MacDonald - 7th green




I was the first to tee off at 7:30 on Old MacDonald, Tom Doak's ode to famous golf course

architect C.B MacDonald.Old Mac might be the most authentic links layout of the group at

Bandon, and had many spectacular holes but was in no way the visual stunner of Pacific

or Bandon Dunes.The greens are the main event at Old Mac, very large with crazy undulations.

After another mediocre round scoring wise, but enjoyable, I headed to the Tufted Puffin

restaurant/lounge (which is the sporty bar like area of the clubhouse) for breakfast.

The meal hit the spot, and I headed back to the room to get ready for a lunch meeting with B.R

Koehnemann from Kemper Sports/Bandon Resorts.After our Lunch, B.R invited me to take on

the new Bandon Preserve, a thirteen hole par 3 course that was originally slated to be twelve

holes, but after clearing some of the property for the routing, Coore/Crenshaw found another

spot perfect for the bakers dozen.Preserve is 100% grown in, the grand opening to the public is

May 1st, 2012.In order to leave the Preserve pristine for the grand opening, we hit every tee

shot off a lie board to protect it's condition until opening day.


The stunning Bandon Preserve opens to the Public on May 1st



Bandon Preserve #12




On my last night in Bandon, I decided to head over to McKee's Pub which is right next to the pro

shop at Bandon Dunes.The theme is all Irish, and although I'm not a drinker I can appreciate a cool

watering hole . . . so I went for the Fish n Chips and an Arnold Palmer, the perfect meal to finish off

the Bandon Resort experience.


Mac Hall & McKee's Pub


The next morning I had a 400+ mile drive headed north, back towards Seattle and a 1:55

tee time at Chambers Bay (site of the 2010 U.S Amateur & 2015 U.S Open), but I knew

I'd have to come back to Bandon one day, it's uniqueness can't be overstated . . . as far

as I was concerned the hype had to keep getting louder to match the experience.


Full reviews of each Bandon course coming soon in the Course Review section.


Next in Bruno's Blog: An afternoon on the Puget Sound at Chambers Bay





« StartPrev12345678910NextEnd »

Page 10 of 20