After a lengthy tour Tuesday morning with general manager Matt Allen, I wanted to get at least an overview of the changes that will occur at Chambers Bay over the next few months (and a story will publish next week sometimes):
The tweaks were all highly recommended by United States Golf Association officials on site visits since the 2010 U.S. Amateur in August:
All work will be done in distinct phases:
PHASE I, Oct. 20
First hole - Entire green will have new sod, and the area short right of the putting surface will be softened. The hole will be closed starting Oct. 20 for roughly six weeks. Golfers will play the 10th hole twice.
PHASE II, Nov. 1
18th hole - The right waste bunker will be extended toward the green to make it a 290-yard carry.
The fairway bunker on the right will be pinched in to the fairway a good 20 feet.
A pot bunker will be added in the left-center portion of the fairway, some 100 yards out.
Work behind the 18th-hole green will take place, like lowering mounds and reshaping the back of it so balls feed off.
PHASE III, Dec. 15
13th hole - Looks like this hole will remain a par 4 for the U.S. Open. But since mid- to short-iron approach shots would not hold on this green during the U.S. Amateur, the green size will increase by 25 percent, and the protruding hump on the left fringe will be shaven.
17th hole - The dune from the lower tee will be scraped out so golfers get a better view of the entire green.
Fifth hole - Waste area all the way down the right side will be connected.
14th hole - A back tee will be added behind the cart path, increasing the hole’s length by 25 yards (I guess many of the U.S. Amateur participants were clearing the 290-yard carry with ease).
PHASE IV, Jan. 1
Third hole - Lots of reshaping of the tee ribbons on the par 3. Back tee will be connected to rest of tees, meaning lots of land will be moved, and walker/golfer path will be redirected accordingly.
PHASE V, Jan. 15
Eighth hole - Landing area short left of the green will be lowered to bring in more receptive front-pin location.
Ninth hole - This one is cool: A new tee will be built just above the short-game area – some 185 yards to the hole. It brings more of a level tee-to-green shot, but changes the hole’s perspective entirely. It will be an option for public play starting in 2013.
Putting green: Will be expanded to the south. For the championship, it will also be the teeing area for the opening hole.
PHASE VI, Feb. 15
North end pathway - A real gallery traffic hot spot was the area just behind the 14th green that is easy access to other holes (12th tee, 15th tee where restroom is located).
Dunes will be leveled off for facility purposes.
Also, ledge just to the left of the 16th tee will be made bigger for concessions.
PHASE VII, March 1
Seventh hole - This is the biggie change, and most significant for the U.S. Open.
Background: During the U.S. Amateur, approach shots into that winding, uphill par 4 that carried to the back portion of the green not only rarely held, but they took the slope to the right and ran back down the hill in front. Unfair.
The green will be moved to the southwest, and the front part of it will be raised to keep golf balls from rolling off.
The hump in the back of the green will be lowered.
The hummock closest to the green likely will be eliminated, and the one behind it will be altered in size and extended.
This green will be closed from March 1 to roughly April 30 of 2013. A temporary green will be built just over the waste area on the right, and 50 yards short of the first mound. Also, for public play, the back tee will be used often so the hole does not become a drivable par 4.
That is it in a nutshell. Green fees are expected to be adjusted accordingly (consider it a “golfer inconvenience” discount) for off-peak season.
Also, saw the 2015 U.S. Open logo, which was finally approved. Simple, underwhelming and something that will look classic on hats and polo shirts. Apparel could be available as soon as next month.