Course Reviews/Travel


A Summer Day at Bethpage Black PDF Print E-mail

 

By Jason Bruno

The sign speaks for itself. A longtime favorite of ours, it doesn't get much better than

the facility at Bethpage that includes 5 eighteen hole golf courses: Blue, Green, Yellow,

Red and the world famous Black course - regarded by many as A.W Tillinghast's best work.

 

 

 

Our first trip to Bethpage in over a decade was on a beautiful summer day in late July.

Fresh off the 6am flight from West Palm Beach into La Guardia, I had just enough time

to grab a quick brunch at the local Bethpage diner (and a meeting with a longtime

friend, who I hadn't seen in years) and bolt for a quick warm up for my 12:51 starting

time on the Black course. Since I was in town to cover the PGA Championship at Baltusrol,

the hierarchy at Bethpage saw fit to give me a primo time slot, but since I was in that tee

time as a solo player - the starter paired up a father and son duo to join me. I was relieved,

because nobody wants to walk a top 100 layout for 5 hours by themselves. Meeting new

people is part of the experience when you travel, especially on the links - it certainly

makes for a much more enjoyable afternoon.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Mark and Sean were my playing partners for the day (Sean attends and plays a bit of

college golf in Georgia and was home for the summer), natives of Long Island's North

Shore, Sean tries to get out on the Black a few times each summer before returning to

school. Mark and I choose to play the middle tees at 6704 yards - with a rating and slope

of 74.0/145, while Sean played the back tees that have a staggering rating and slope of

78.1/152 (although listed at 7465 yards, many tees were pushed forward just behind our

tee box for daily play. I'd estimate it played at 7000 yards). The remarkable thing is the

rating/slope are on an 80 year old classic design - no OB stakes and the only water hazard is

a small pond that fronts the par 3 eighth green. Also, the putting surfaces on the Black are

fairly pedestrian in their undulations and pitch (The green speeds were perfect - a smooth

10 on the stimpmeter). When people ask, I always refer to the Black as the toughest totally

fair layout you'll ever play. You'll use every club in your bag, will be required to maneuver

the golf ball in all directions and likely will not suffer a single penalty stroke during your

stroll on the routing that hosted the 2002 and 2009 U.S Open Championships (and will be

the host venue for the 2019 PGA Championship & 2024 Ryder Cup). I've never come close

to scoring to my handicap on Tillinghast's "Mona Lisa" (and either does anybody else), but a

day of hitting golf shots on a design of this ilk is always a treat (and a challenge).

 

 

By now this sign on the first tee is as famous as the course itself. Even for the

most highly skilled players, the layout requires supreme ball striking to score.

Stay out of the gnarly rough and you have a chance to post a decent number.

High handicap players need not apply.

 

 

 

 

The Black was in prime shape just four weeks prior to hosting the Barclay's and kicking off

the Fedex Cup playoffs. If there is a better parkland par 5 in America than the fourth on

the Black, than I haven't seen it yet. My best drive on the outward side flew the left fairway

bunker and left only a 5 iron in, but after just missing the green on front left side, par was

all I could muster after a mediocre greenside chip from the heavy rye rough. As you'll quickly

learn (it took me a few holes to remember how to best escape from the Northeast nasty stuff),

use as much loft as possible. The 54 degree sand wedge never stood a chance, at times, even

my 58 degree seemed inadequate.

 

 

 

 

 

The fifth is every bit as "ALL TIME" as the fourth, and in my opinion is the best shot makers

hole on the property - a soft fade off the box is required to set up the proper angle to this

elevated green that has a bit of a bowl effect (it sits perfectly into the landscape). The

approach just begs for a smooth right to left shot shape on one of the best inland par 4

holes in existence. After I play the fourth & fifth I wanna turn around and play them again,

(there is no greater compliment to a great design than that) similar feelings to the seventh

and eighth at Pebble, fifteenth and sixteenth at Bandon Dunes, the sixteenth and seventeenth

at Merion, the fifteenth and sixteenth at Streamsong Red and thirteenth and fourteenth at

Seminole just to name a few.

 

 

 

 

 

The grandstands for the upcoming Fedex Cup Playoffs were already in place on many of the holes.

The fourteenth on the Black is the shortest par 3 on the layout and played about 150 yards to the

back left pin position (right in line with the middle of the small white VIP tent. Note the exquisite

design of the front right bunker. For all of the criticism Rees Jones takes for his U.S Open

restorations, his work on the Black that began nearly 20 years ago is worthy of the highest praise.

 

 

 

 

Everybody that plays this game for a period of time has their nemesis holes. For me

that has always been the 15th on the Black. For a hole with no hazards, boundaries

or fairway bunkers, it has always had my number. I've always referred to it as the

"Beast". Not on this day though . . .

 

 

 

 

 

The wind was of the helping variety and slightly left to right. Normally a long iron to

a severely elevated putting surface, a busted tee shot left a gap wedge approach. Crisp

contact resulted in a straight 12 foot uphill birdie attempt on the most undulated green

on the Black. After leaving the birdie putt on the front lip, the group remained birdie-

less, but par was secured on the "Beast". Breaking that dubious streak was one of the goals

before I even boarded the airplane in Florida. Finally, a first in six attempts over a 20 year

span. The Beast is dead, atleast for that Sunday it was.

 

 

 

 

Side view of the green complex on the par 3 - 17th

 

 

 

 

 

Just off the green on the 17th, you can see how healthy the rye rough has grown in.

The tee was up a few yards on the toughest one shotter at Bethpage and played 185

yards into a left to right breeze. A solid 6 iron left this putt for a deuce, but as with the

16 holes previous - feathers were not to be had. However, I'll always take a 3 on this hole

and bolt up the hill to the tee on 18th hole.

 

 

 

 

The view from the tee box on the last. Never regarded as the toughest hole on Tilly's classic,

it does present the need for a striped tee shot down the center - anything else is an act of

sheer folly. The new championship tee, some 60 yards behind the 394 yard middle tee will

present the proper challenge for today's elite players.

 

 

 

 

 

A piped 3 wood center cut into the shortgrass left this 138 yd uphill approach in. Desperately

striving for birdie (did I mention that our group remained without paydirt thru 17 holes), I

took dead aim but slightly over clubbed and ended up 30 feet above the hole. The last attempt

narrowly missed, but there were no complaints on this end after posting a workman like 75

(Bethpage Black is a par 71).

 

 

Gorgeous weather, better company and another great memory on my favorite "Muni" in America.

Exhausted from a long day of travel and toting around Tilly's finest design, I made my way towards

the Garden State where the assignment of PGA Championship week was on the horizon. This was a

summer day in Gotham that was certainly one to remember.

 

 

 

Bethpage State Park: http://nysparks.com/golf-courses/11/details.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 
Gleneagles Legends Course (Florida) PDF Print E-mail

 

By Jason Bruno

 

Our last course review - Salish Cliffs just outside of Olympia, Washington

was a road game about as far from homebase (South Florida) as we could

take in the continental 48. So for this edition, we opted for the somewhat

local surroundings of Palm Beach County - at Gleneagles Country Club in

Delray Beach.

 

Gleneagles Country Club is a 36 hole private facility with over 800 golf members.

Rich in history, early members included many of the Tour's elite including: Sam

Snead, Billy Casper, Doug Sanders, Bob Goalby, Gay Brewer and Doug Ford.

About five years ago the club decided their Championship layout - the Legends

course, needed a facelift. An entire renovation started in April of 2011 by the

talented group at Kipp Schulties Golf Design. Schulties has renovated many of

South Florida's finest and most exclusive courses including Lost Tree Club,

Quail Ridge, Admirals Cove, and High Ridge (just to a name a few). You can

see his entire portfolio of golf design at :http://ksgolfdesign.com/

 

Gleneagles is a 36 hole private facility with over 800 golf members. It had been

over a decade since my last visit to the club, and other than the main drive

towards the clubhouse, I almost didn't recognize the place. The club is in the

masterful hands of Director of Golf Joe DeMino (who's been at the helm since

the summer of 2010), DeMino comes from a long lineage of golf professionals

from the Rochester, N.Y area) and Head Pro Paul Crespo, who hosted us on a

gorgeous afternoon in early May.

 

 

 

 

 


The impetus for this review came weeks before when I took part in a long

awaited four ball match with media colleagues from ESPN radio, South Florida

Golf Magazine and the First Tee of the Palm Beaches- Approach to the 1st hole

pictured above from our initial site visit on 4/25/16.




 

 

 

 

The 7,047 yard Legends course starts off with a short 368 yard par 4.

Numerous bunkers dot the landscape on the Legends opener, aim at a

bunker that's just out of reach and blast off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The green complex at the 1st plays slightly uphill, with various runoffs into

tightly mown chipping areas. Schulties immediately gives notice that getting

up and down on the Legends course is a shortgame test of the highest order.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The short par 5 third plays only 486 yds from the blue tee, a drive onto the

shortgrass leaves a choice to go or lay up for the approach to a well guarded

putting surface.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the 3rd is a reachable par 5, miss the green, and your work just begins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dogleg right fifth is all about precision not distance. At 350 yds, driver

isn't the play here - stay right of these bunkers and you're awarded with a

short iron to a shallow but wide putting surface. The only acceptable miss

here is short right of the green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 206 yard par 3 - 6th is an old school classic one shotter. Note the 60 ft

Washingtonia Palm that provides a vertical element to the scenery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite hole on the outward nine at Gleneagles is the vast and beautiful

parkland style design of the 525 yard 7th. Often playing into the prevailing

east wind, this true 3 shot hole has a large cross bunker that adds a bit of

strategy to this stunner. This hole reminded me of Gary Player's brilliant

design work at The Ace Club just outside of Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 241 yards (216 from the blue tees and also playing into the prevailing wind)

the 8th on the Legends course is an all or nothing proposition. Make 3 here and

you're likely to gain a stroke on your playing partners.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

The inward nine begins in similar fashion to the frontside - 359 yards to a fairway

flanked with bunkers. Successfully navigate Schulties' mine field of sand, and a

short approach awaits.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 11th hole at Gleneagles Legends course is the shortest par 4 on the routing,

precision off the tee is essential here . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The approach to the 11th requires absolute pinpoint accuracy. This green

might be the most undulated surface on the property. Note the subtle tilt

towards the hazard from fairway thru the green. Form and function working in

harmony. Schulties created sustainability into his magnificent design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The par 5 12th is considered the signature hole on the property and for good

reason. The longest hole at Gleneagles is a mighty 637 yards from the back

tee. The fairway rolls and meanders alongside a slithering waterway.

Eventually, you reach the approach to this green on this double dog leg right

. . . short is wet, long is a McGyver episode (I needed a swiss army knife and

a roll of duct tape to get up and down from long left of the green). Nothing less

than three solid strikes here will do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 13th is a prime example of the waves and contour that Schulties created

on the Legends design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The shortest and most striking par 3 at Gleneagles is the 141 yard - 15th.

Nowhere to hide here, avoid the water, but don't over do it - the massively

steep Mackenzie style bunker is a tough escape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best test of your ball striking comes late on the Legends course (at the

16th), at nearly 460 yards from the back tees (440 blue), it takes two striped

shots here to walk with par or better. This a championship golf hole of the

highest caliber, and is visually stunning as well.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

As a veteran turf guy, I always admire the work of my fellow agronomists,

especially from the uber talented superintendent Jason Bagwell and his staff.

16th fairway bunker (pictured above) - Impeccable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The par 3 - 17th, plays 175 yards to this back pin position. Notice the

sharpness of Schulties' exquisite sand work on the Legends, reminiscent

of the classic work of Dr. Alister Mackenzie from nearly a century ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tee view on the 549 yard par 5 - 18th. A slight cut or straight shot between

the left tree line and large Banyan on the right is ideal here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heading home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foliage is a big part of the beauty at Gleneagles, just off the 18th fairway

Crotons and Copper Plant frame the 419 Bermuda turf.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A closer view of the approach on the last shows how well Schulties crafted

subtle tilt to the fairways creating great variety to the types of shots required

to score well here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you putt out here on the 18th green at Gleneagles Legends, all you

want to do is head back to 1st tee and play it again. That's the sign of a

fun and challenging course design and a memorable experience.

 

 

Schulties and the staff at Gleneagles deserve tons of credit for taking what

was once ordinary and turning the Legends into something extremely unique.

For those fortunate to be members at Gleneagles, you're aware of what a

gem it is.


In February of 2014, Colin Montgomery filmed an entire episode of Golf Channel

Academy at Gleneagles Country Club.

 

 

 

 

 

For more info on Gleneagles Country Club and the Legends Course visit:

http://www.gleneagles.cc/Club/Scripts/Home/home.asp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
Salish Cliffs Golf Club PDF Print E-mail


By Jason Bruno

The last stop on our Pacific Northwest summer tour was Salish Cliffs in the town of Shelton,

just minutes away from Olympia, Washington. After playing links golf at Bandon Dunes resort,

then being on the rugged terrain of Chambers Bay, and hiking it to the desert area for a spin

around McLay Kidd's brilliant design at Gamble Sands, it was time for a traditional style tree

lined Northwest routing at Salish Cliffs. This 7,269 yard Gene Bates design features 320 acres

and extreme elevation changes through out the routing.


 

The Clubhouse and course at Salish Cliffs are part of the Little Creek Casino Resort owned by The

Squaxin Island Tribe. At just four years since its opening on September, 2011, Salish Cliffs has

become a favorite of the region. Views of the Kamilche Valley, and beautiful native flora only add

to Gene Bates' brilliant routing.

 



The 514 yd par 5 first hole (from the tournament tees - 6766 yards) requires a soft left to right

ball flight around tall foliage that guards the right side of the fairway, from there you can give it a

go.

 


photo courtesy of Salish Cliffs

The second hole is another that moves left to right, this par 4 plays only 276 yards from the

Tournament tee and only 250 yards from the Players tee. If you're gonna get on the board early,

these first two holes set you up for good birdie chances.

 




second green




233 yard par 3 third hole plays much shorter because of the elevated tee, but there is nowhere

for a big miss here. Short is fine, and so is the left bunker . . . but a wayward miss will get

swallowed up in the tall fescue surrounds.

 

 


third green


 

 

401 yard fourth moves slightly right to left to a generous landing area, find the shortgrass here

and you'll likely have no more than a short iron in.




The approach to the fourth looks like there's no where to land it, a Sunday pin for sure.

 

 



The gorgeous 168 yard sixth. Other than it's simple beauty, note the devilish front bunker and

false front that persuade you to take an extra club. The back left portion of this green falls away

from the player, so only a precise strike will do here.


 



371 yard seventh, just torch it between the conifers . . . inside the left fairway bunker is your

aiming point with the driver, but the prudent play might be a fairway club or hybrid from this box.

 

 



The 601 yard eighth from the championship tee, truly a great spot. Although we were in

Washington State, there were times when the property at Salish Cliffs reminded me of one

of my favorite northeast layouts - Hamilton Farm in Gladstone, New Jersey.

 




The tee at the 409 yard ninth, thread your tee shot through the opening, but avoid the lake

on the left. Just inside the right fairway bunker is a good aiming point.





A view of the ninth green form across the lake, both nines finish on a shared green (eighteenth

on the left).



 


568 yard tenth is the longest par 5 on the inward side, three solid shots are required here for any

chance to score.

 




428 yard eleventh is like being in an evergreen colosseum, take a moment and soak it in. This is

one of the few holes at SC where there is nowhere to miss.



 


Bates' bunkering and green complexes at Salish are worth the price of admission alone. The bent

grass surfaces are consistently slick and smooth with plenty of movement . . . very few dead

straight putts on this Gene Bates design.



 


394 yard twelfth is all about getting in play, but if you take note of the tree line ahead you can

see the how the hole gently meanders to the right.

 




Although the hole gently moves right, a draw approach into the twelfth green is preferred . . . as

you can see, missing this target left leaves an extremely difficult par save.




The 188 yard thirteenth features one of the most undulating putting surfaces on the course, find

the proper level or a three putt is very likely. After squandering numerous birdie chances

throughout the day, I hit it tight here and lipped out yet another.

 




414 yard Fourteenth is completely unique to the rest of the course, the fairway and putting

surface seem to sit lower on the property and the hole plays more lateral than linear. The

approach is to a wide surface just over a small creek that is surrounded by wild flowers. This

part of the routing feels akin to a ballad in the middle of a hard rockin live set (if you will).

 




The approach to the fifteenth, although it's a short shot - it's another where Bates keeps you from

seeing the surface from the fairway adding just a hint of uncertainty, and therefore requires

pinpoint accuracy.


 

 


A close up view of Bates' sand work shows extreme detail, reminiscent of the great work by

Hurdzan and Fry.


 

 

428 yard sixteenth is a stunner, tough and beautiful. Play it safe to the left or take on the fairway

bunkers.

 

 

 

 


 

Seventeenth plays straight downhill 161 yards from the back tee. The lid finally came off the jar

here . . . birdie at last. All of the one shotters at SC are worthy (and with great variety).

 

 



514 yard eighteenth hole is a magnificent finishing hole, your aiming point is the left fairway

bunker in the distance - avoid the right side as everything funnels towards the tall fescue and

lake just right of the fairway.




The ninth and eighteenth holes wrap around a lake, the long fescue is a certain lost ball for

anything that misses just 5 yards right of the wide fairway.


 

 

Approach to the last, your last chance for glory.

 




 

To be honest, even though Salish Cliffs had been on my radar since our last trip to the area in

2012, I wasn't expecting to be wowed only because I had just spent 14 days at Bandon Dunes,

Chambers Bay and Gamble Sands - three of the best public access facilities in America. The entire

staff at SC is knowledgeable and friendly, the weather was picture perfect (that never hurts), and

the course and its splendid natural surroundings exceeded expectations by miles. If you're a

resident of Washington State or you're traveling to the area and haven't played Salish Cliffs, it

has earned our admiration as a Must Play! Washington resident and good friend Jeff Rawlins

joined me for the day and was equally impressed by the expereince. When you arrive, tell the

staff we sent you. . .


 

 

 

For more info visit: http://www.salish-cliffs.com/

 

 

 

 

Special Thanks to David Kass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
Gamble Sands - A New Beginning for David McLay-Kidd PDF Print E-mail

 

By Jason Bruno

The day after the exciting U.S Open finish at Chambers Bay,

I left Tacoma and high tailed it 250 miles northeast to Brewster,

Washington to take a spin around David McLay Kidd's latest

design - Gamble Sands. I was invited a while back by DMK

design, and finally worked out the schedule with the staff to

make it up there on day 14 of our 15 day west coast trip (that

started at Bandon Dunes before U.S Open week and concluded

at Salish Cliffs in Shelton, Washington).

 

 

 


Before we get to describing DMK's layout at Gamble Sands, I would

be remiss if I didn't mention the spectacular vistas on the drive along

the Columbia River on our way to Brewster.

 

 

 


The understated ranch style clubhouse blends in perfectly with the

surroundings at Gamble Sands.

Gamble Sands which opened in 2014, is a form of course design

rebirth for Scottish architect David McLay Kidd. Early success in

1999 as Mike Keiser's leadoff hitter at Bandon Dunes, Kidd

suddenly found his services in high demand. Feeling the need

to live up to his new stature as a "Michelangelo" of course

design, DMK thought his work should produce tougher courses

worthy of the new found attention. The Castle Course at

St.Andrews and Tetherow in his adopted state of Oregon were

the result of his resistance to scoring mentality, and although

these designs brought awareness to his work, most of it wasn't

positive. As time went on, it became apparent to many in the

industry (including Keiser) that Kidd had lost his way. While

interesting, these designs were way too tough for the average

player. Searching for the magic that he once had, he returned

to Bandon quite often and began to realize the error of his ways

. . . a shift in design philosophy took place and the nucleus would

be about the overall experience - playability and fun.


 

 

 

The first hole at Gamble Sands is a slight dogleg left that plays

392 from the back tees, the green (pictured above) is tucked

left behind the native desert scrub.

 

 

 

The Gebber family, which is in the orchard and cattle ranch

business picked Kidd to design their course, and in turn Kidd

promised to deliver a "layout that would fall from the sky and

lay softly on the land." By the second hole (pictured below) I

gained a sense that Kidd was back on his game.

The drivable par 4 - second is one to behold, at only 262 yards

from the back tees (301 from the Championship "Medal" tees)

a draw over the cross bunker will have you rolling the rock for

a chance at a deuce. The fun starts early at Gamble Sands and

views aren't too shabby either.

 

 

With very few forced carries, generous fairways, no boundries

or water hazards in play, and large putting surfaces of modest

undulations, Kidd utilized the surroundings to create a golf

course that will have you experiencing all of the positive things

you love about the game. Drives carry forever with the hang

time of a Ray Guy punt against the backdrop of the clear blue

sky and Northern Cascade Mountains . . . and when they land

on the firm Fescue fairways, they run forever. Yep, I said Fescue.

A links surface in a very un-links like setting.

 

 


 

The par 3 - fourth plays 160 yards, notice how Kidd's design

allows a run up on the left for the high handicapper to cut a

fade onto the surface, the better player can work a shot into

the diagonal green or take dead aim.

 


 

 

The 497 yard par 4 -fifth is a brute that's well guarded by the

large blowout bunker on the right, the smaller bunker on the

left will catch run up shots that stray offline.

 

 

 

 

The Redan style sixth is the bully of the one shotters at Gamble

Sands tipping out at 265 yards from the Championship tees.

Anything out to the right shaped with a slight draw will funnel

it's way down the slope and onto the green. Being a big fan of

Seth Raynor and C.B Macdonald, this is by far my favorite par3

at GS.

 

 

 

 

The par 5 seventh plays only 473 yards from the back tee and

344 yards from the forward tee, and although the approach

plays uphill, the tee shot plays straight downhill. An aggressive

play over the cross bunker pays huge dividends. The view (photo

bove) shows the right to left slope in the green complex, precision

is required here at the seventh.

 

 

 

 

The 307 yard eighth is another great opportunity to put a red

number on the scorecard, and another view to soak in.

 

 

 

 

The 382 yard ninth is another good birdie hole, a tee shot left

center leaves the best angle to this slightly uphill left to right

green. If walking, take note - the ninth hole at GS does not

return to the clubhouse.

 

 

 

 

The view from behind the 9th green shows a tier that bisects

the upper and lower portions of this elongated putting surface.

 

 

 

The 12th hole is the third drivable par 4 hole at Gamble Sands.

Tipping out at 333 yards, DMK designed tees for everyone to

get home - the forward tee here is just 189 yards.

 

 

 

 

The 408 yard fourteenth challenges the long hitter to carry the

sand down the left and allows the mid/high handicap player to

take the safer route down the right.

 

 

 

 

The 467 yard par 4 fifteenth hole is the toughest par coming in,

note the tear away type bunker on the left that has become the

go to style of minimalist designers like Doak and Coore/Crenshaw.

 

 

 

 

A greenside view of the fifteenth. Missing your approach here is

no bargain to save par.

 

 

 

 

The home hole at Gamble Sands is a very reachable 500 yard

par 5. I reached from the left fairway bunker, narrowly missing

my 30' eagle putt. The Fescue greens were flawless, along

Old Mac (two weeks before), Gamble Sands had the finest

Fescue surfaces on our trip.

 

Although word is really just getting out about Gamble Sands,

it should be an absolute must play destination for the dedicated

golf traveler. After the round, I can happily report that DMK has

found the magic again. The joy I felt walking off the 18th was

the same that I felt after playing Bandon Dunes for the first time.

When you factor in the routing, the scenery, the playability and

the playing conditions - Gamble Sands is hands down the most

enjoyable new design (not the toughest) we've reviewed in more

than a few years.

 

During a time when golf participation is down and the governing

bodies are banning things like the anchored stroke, the game

needs a panacea to turn the tide and bring golfers back . . .

courses like Gamble Sands are a start in the right direction.

Special Thanks to DMK Design, OB Sports and the staff at Gamble Sands.

 


For more info on Gamble Sands: http://gamblesands.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
U.S Open Course Preview: Chambers Bay PDF Print E-mail

 

By Jason Bruno

Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington is the site of this years U.S Open

Championship. Back in 2012 we scouted Chambers and thought it would be a

good time to re-visit that review (with some updated thoughts and facts) before

the Pacific Northwest gets invaded by the games best players.

 

 

 

By now you've seen images of the place, and the Lone Fir which stands as an iconic

symbol over looking the Puget Sound at Chambers Bay. Being the only tree on the

property, the conifer almost met it's demise at the hands of vandal years back.

 

 

 

The site where Chambers Bay is, was at one time an industrial mining site, now it's

the design marvel of RTJ II and his design associates Bruce Charlton and Jay Blasi.

This first impression overlooking the property from high above (the pro shop and

parking lot sits hundreds of feet above the layout) is simply vast, with an incredible

vista . . .  a site that must be seen by any golf enthusiast or lover of the great

outdoors. Chambers is for all intents and purposes a muni . . . but like Bethpage on

the east coast, the pedigree of the layout is anything but that of your typical

local government run golf course.

 

 

 

 

 

The course appears as a natural beauty, but this layout is anything but that,

it was completely manufactured with over 1.5 million cubic feet of earth moved

about. In the days of Yore, the site was a sand, gravel and rock mine. Sand

being the key element that provides the ideal foundation for links style golf and

the dunes and hollows that were so expertly shaped. Draped in Fescue, you have

an absolute ideal playing surface for firm and fast conditions, a big kudos to the

men in the blue blazers (USGA) that had the foresight to award Chambers this

Championship -perhaps the most outside the box venue of any major in recent

memory. Playing Chambers is a unique experience, not quite as authentic as

Bandon's four 18 hole tracks, but because of the fescue turf it plays more true

to its design than say Whistling Straits does. Although both have vistas that

make either journey unique before you ever attempt your first knockdown 6 iron.

 

 

 

 

The first green at Chambers Bay, the surface is ginormous . . . getting the approach

to the proper level is essential here. Notice the false front and the upper tier on the

back half of the putting surface.

 

 

 

 

 

The par 4 second at Chambers Bay called "Foxy", should be played down the right

side to avoid the large cross bunker.

 

 

 

 

 

The 165 yard par 3 third, bail out right and your left with a near impossible up and

down . . . miss left and take your chances with the enormous/deep bunker. Very

"Redan" like in its design, this little hole will wreck some scorecards.

 

 

 

 

The 568 yard par 5 fourth plays uphill as its name (Hazards Ascent) suggests.

 


 

 

The opposite rings true at the fifth called "Freefall". One of my favorite spots on the

property, players competing at the Open likely won't take a moment to enjoy the

view, but I did.

 

 

 

 

The par 4 sixth called "Deception Point", requires a drive left of the dune on the right

side of the fairway . . . the menacing cloud formation created one of the best images

of the day. Hard to believe this isn't Scotland.

 


 

 

 

 

 

The left to right par 4 seventh (fairway hidden) wraps around the large waste

bunkers.

 

 

 

 

 

The view from behind the par 5 eighth. The eighth runs right beneath the gigantic

dune along the left side of the fairway.Anything right falls down a large embankment

where your facing a shot you don't want.The fairway and green are part of the large

tabletop that runs the entire length of the dune and embankment.

 

 

 

 

The par 3 ninth at Chambers, a well placed tee shot that lands left of the putting

surface will funnel down onto the green . . . anything right is obviously an adventure

in the giant sandbox that sits nearly 40 feet below the green. Even with the

exaggerated downhill . . . at 227 yards from the tips it is no pushover.

 

 

 

 

The 398 yard tenth is aptly dubbed "High Dunes", the fact that none of these land

forms are natural is a good example of RTJ II (Jay Blasi & Bruce Charlton's) fabulous

work.

 

 

 

 

The twelfth called "The Narrows", is driveable for the longest hitter . . . but the tee

shot must be a high right to left shot.The green actually sits to left of the fairway

bunker, behind the dune.

 

 


 

 

The sweeping par 4 fourteenth is a design that will be a pivotal hole in the 2015 U.S

Open. My favorite tee shot on the property.

 

 

 

 

The Lone fir overlooks the short fifteenth and the tee on sixteen.

 

 

 

 

The sixteenth trundles alongside the railway and the Puget Sound .

 

 

 

 

 

The par 3 seventeenth can play as long as 218 yards, the players will have to remain

focused . . . with the trains that will be running throughout the week. There are

many options for pin locations on this putting surface, interested to see where Mike

Davis chooses set the cup here on Championship Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

The 604 yard par 5 is a worthy finisher

 


 

 

 

Not a bad view lookin back down the home hole as the sun begins to set. The large

concrete structures in the distance are left over remnants from days long ago and

it's industrial origins. With Chambers and the Pacific Northwest adding such a

different vibe, and a unique setting, this might be a U.S Open we don't soon forget.



For more info visit: http://www.chambersbaygolf.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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