Toured ever-changing Chambers Bay Golf Course on Wednesday with new director of agronomy Eric Johnson and course superintendent Josh Lewis, and got updates on all the hole changes – all in preparation for the 2015 U.S. Open.
Summaries will be given in the order I toured the course:
* 3rd hole: The dunes and dirt from behind the original teeing area has been removed – and three new teeing areas have been inserted, ranging from 170 to 205 yards for the back tee. Gives this hole more teeth. The new teeing grounds should be in play by the fall.
Also, a service/gallery road has been pushed away from the original tee box, giving the players a little more privacy.
* 6th hole: Again, earth has been moved around to give this hole a little more definition and protection from the fifth-hole green. Also, a long, winding teeing ribbon has been constructed, giving the United States Golf Association the possibility of four more teeing areas – with the furthest back pushing this par 4 to 505 yards.
The area was hydro-seeded about eight weeks ago, and won’t be available for public play until the late fall.
* 13th hole: This is a hole that has gone back and forth, from a shorter par 5 to a longer par 4. The left greenside mound has been softened so approach shots won’t fall back into the front-side waste area or shoot across the green/fringe and into trouble on the right side of the green.
The right side of the green has been slightly elevated to keep safe shots from leaving the putting surface. The new green is larger by 500 square feet, and has been open to the public since June 1.
* 5th hole: It is the downhill par 4 that used to have two greens – one longer straightaway and a drivable one to the left of the tee.
That shorter green is completely gone, now fully part of the sandy hazard that lurks in that direction.
The cool thing about this hole is that it gives a full view of the landing area for the PGA Tour professionals in 2015 – some 330 yards away. It is also the area that has been pinched in from the right side by another waste area some 40-50 yards. The waste area is now fully connected a good 100 yards.
Because the fairway at that juncture kicks everything left, it really brings that right-side hazard into play. Betting you will see many golfers lay up on this hole.
* 7th hole: This is easily the biggest project going on the course, but all the reshaping is complete. Now it is about filling in areas in and around the green.
Once nestled close to the upper bank, the green has now been moved closer to the fairway a good 20 to 30 feet. Also, it has been lower 7 feet.
That back slope has been softened so approach shots that go long won’t ricochet back toward the fairway – rather the golf ball should kick left or right and stay behind the green.
The left-side dune, some 60-70 yards short of the green, has now been beefed up a bit. High fescue grass will grow from it, too.
Also, the right fairway bunker some 40 yards from the green has been extended into the fairway some 15-20 feet.
Designers added a dune to the right of the green, to give more distinction between the seventh-hole green and the eighth-hole tee box (which has a new teeing ground left).
Again, this hole will still be out of commission until next spring.
The slate of fall projects include:
* Continuing work at No. 7.
* Building the new tee on No. 8.
* Finishing the lower tee off No. 9.
* Clearing the view more for teeing areas at No. 17.
* Improving the surrounding area at No. 18 green better for gallery and golfers.