UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – United States Golf Association executive director Mike Davis laid down a challenge to the best players in the world as they get ready for the U.S. Open to make its debut at Chambers Bay.
Get to know every rolling fairway, undulating green and unique bounces of the young golf course on the shores of Puget Sound.
"I would contend that there is no way a player will have success here at Chambers Bay unless he really studies the golf course and learns it," Davis said Monday during media day for the U.S. Open. "The idea of coming in and playing two practice rounds and just walking it and using your yardage book, that person is done. Will not win the U.S. Open."
After years of anticipation, the first U.S. Open to come to the Pacific Northwest is now seven weeks away and with it comes the risk associated with the USGA awarding the championship to Chambers Bay. No golf course has been rewarded with the national championship at such an early age since Hazeltine. No golf course that is made up of all fine fescue grass has ever hosted the U.S. Open.
Despite the unknowns, Davis and USGA officials were raving about the course conditions, noting a milder winter was a huge benefit to getting the course prepared. Davis said last fall there were concerns regarding the grass growth in some areas, but the warm winter promoted growth and put preparations ahead of where they were hoping coming into the spring.
The unknowns prompted Davis to issue his warning. And he understands there will be players walking away from their experience at Chambers Bay less than thrilled with the challenges presented.
"This is a one-of-a-kind site for us at a U.S. Open," Davis said. "There is going to be some players that just love this ground game and love the imagination and embrace it. And then there are other players who just want predictability. They want something right in front of them. They don't want to have to guess what is going to happen after the ball lands. It's just a different mindset."
The course will play to a par 70, just like previous U.S. Open courses. Davis plans on alternating holes 1 and 18 as par 4s and 5s during the tournament and some of the teeing grounds used could have slightly elevated or downward lies.
Davis said the course would likely play between 7,200 and 7,600 yards.
"This is a bold site. This is a big site. I've heard people say it's a 'wow' site," Davis said. "It's obviously expansive. We don't have anything we play the U.S. Open on that is remotely similar to this."
Defending champion Martin Kaymer said he met briefly with course designer Robert Trent Jones Jr. while at the Masters to talk about the design of the course and some of the challenges players will face. He's been told the course is similar to Whistling Straits where Kaymer won the 2010 PGA Championship.
"It depends on the golf course, but I'm not too much into that stuff of learning the golf course before I get there," Kaymer said.