US Open venue Chambers Bay splits opinions

Course near Seattle could see pars changed on holes during tournament and tees on slight slopes

A view from behind the green on the 541-yard par-five 18th hole at Chambers Bay Golf Course near Seattle, the venue for June’s US Open Championship. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images

A view from behind the green on the 541-yard par-five 18th hole at Chambers Bay Golf Course near Seattle, the venue for June’s US Open Championship. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images

 

Most people would never have heard of Chambers Bay before it was awarded the 2015 US Open back in February 2008, having only opened for play nine months earlier.

But it is fair to say that has already started to change in the lead up to the second Major championship of the season in June – and not necessarily for the better.

USGA executive director Mike Davis started the ball rolling during Monday’s media day at the course near Seattle, revealing that the pars on the first and 18th holes could change as the tournament progresses.

The two holes will play to a collective par of nine, but the par of each individual hole could change on a round-to-round basis.

“It all got down to the architecture of the course,” Davis told reporters. “The drive zones as a par-four and par-five for both those holes are completely different. There’s a risk-reward element to both holes.”

As if that was not enough, Davis also bizarrely stated that the par-70 course – which has a variety of tees allowing it to play between 7,200 and 7,600 yards each day – could also feature uneven lies on the tee.

“In some cases we may end up putting tee markers on slight slopes,” he said. “There may be some where we give the players a little downhill slope, a little uphill slope, a side slope. So that’s interesting.”

Interesting is probably not the word most players would use to describe it and, sure enough, the early reviews are not promising.

The ever-reliable Ian Poulter revealed on Twitter that “several players have played Chambers Bay in prep for US Open. The reports back are it’s a complete farce. I guess someone has to win”.

That prompted a response from architect Jay Blasi, one of the design team behind Chambers Bay, who told Poulter: “I’d be happy to detail all the features that make CB a complete farce for you.”

After some more back and forth the exchange seemingly ended on a cordial note, with Poulter accepting the offer of a course tour from Blasi, who joked: “If u want I will show u where we buried a Chevy during construction.”

But will the joke be on the players, the USGA or the course itself when the world’s best players arrive in earnest on June 15th?

Golf journalist Stephanie Wei, who is from the area, wrote on Twitter: “One pro who just played Chambers Bay last weekend started singing, “M-I-C-K-E-Y-M-O-U-S-E” when I asked him what he thought of it.”

Another venue that has sparked controversy in the past is Kiawah Island, which is expected to be confirmed as the host for the 2021 USPGA Championship this week.

The (South Carolina) Post and Courier reports that the PGA of America will make the announcement on Friday, with Kiawah’s Ocean Course set to host the final Major of the season as it did in 2012, when Rory McIlroy won his second Major title by eight shots.

The course, which also hosted the dramatic 1991 Ryder Cup known as the ‘War on the Shore’, is very popular with players, but perhaps not with spectators and media, due to major difficulties in terms of accessibility.

There are only two roads leading to the island and most spectators in 2012 had to travel more than an hour from Charleston and then take shuttle buses from the off-island parking complex.

A Saturday rainstorm also led to a massive traffic jam as the 40,000 fans attending the event tried to leave at the same time.

According to the Post and Courier, Roger Warren, president of Kiawah Island Golf Resort and a former PGA of America president, said the parking area would be altered to improve access.

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