Chambers Bay Golf Course


It’s hard to write a review about a course that’s been so reviewed and so covered, by both amateurs and pros (we all remember Jordan Spieth’s quip about the 18th).

But it’s not like this golf course was 100% well received for the U.S. Open in 2015. Rather the opposite — it was met with extremely polarizing views. Some loved the idea of the course, while other’s wanted a more traditional host for the U.S. Open.There were complaints about the courses greenness, or lack of, there were complaints about the greens, and even how hilly the golf course was. Basically, if there was a way to complain about the course, someone has found it.

However, any publicity is good publicity. One of my favorite parts of playing the course was being able to see the concerns behind the course in person. Some were valid, like the greens being bad (I played three weeks after the Open and they were not good) and the 18th being a par 4, even though I played it as a par 5, but criticism wasn’t needed.

For reference, here’s the length of holes I played:

  1. 492 yards, par 4
  2. 399 yards, par 4
  3. 198 yards, par 3
  4. 495 yards, par 4
  5. 488 yards, par 4
  6. 495 yards, par 4
  7. 508 yards, par 4
  8. 614 yards, par 5
  9. 224 yards, par 3
  10. 436 yards, par 4
  11. 537 yards, par 4
  12. 311 yards, par 4
  13. 534 yards, par 4
  14. 546 yards, par 4
  15. 246 yards, par 3
  16. 423 yards, par 4
  17. 218 yards, par 3
  18. 604 yards, par 4

In: 3913 yards, par 35

Out: 3855 yards, par 35

Total: 7768 yards, par 70

The opening tee shot at Chambers Bay shows the dramatic topography throughout the course.

The first hole — played as both a par 4 and par 5 in the Open — was a par 4 when I played. Personally, the tee shot was rather boring, but the approach shot was a pretty solid opening iron. A deep collection area to the left (which is pretty penal; Chris Kirt made 10 from down there) is about 30 feet below the putting surface. To the right of the green is a small-ish kicker slope that’ll help feed the ball into the green.

The par 3 3rd at Chambers Bay is a redan style par 3, and arguably the best one shotter on the course.

The par 3 3rd is perhaps the best 3 on the course. Deep bunkers short and relatively deep bunkers long and left guard this green, and another kicker slope to the right of the green helps feed the ball towards the centre.

The 495 yard, par 4 4th is the first hole that shows the teeth of Chambers Bay.

Arguably the toughest hole on the golf course, the 495 par 4 4th plays severely uphill, adding significant yardage to the hole. The hole is flanked with bunkers all the way up the right, and guards a significant portion of the green.

Like many of the holes at Chambers Bay, knowing where to hit it is key on this hole. You’ll likely have a mid to long iron into this green, and a firm green makes it difficult to stop it quickly. The ground game is a smart way to play this hole. The closer to play towards the bunkers near the green the more it’ll kick towards the centre. A ridge in the middle of the green helps the ball get to the right pin locations.

The issue I had with this hole is it feels very similar to the 7th, which is also a long par 4 up the hill with bunkers along the right side. There is differences in the holes, but the concept is the same, and when you have two hole playing uphill that feel similar, the concept can get a little tiresome.

The 5th is one of the most picturesque holes on the course.

To be, this felt like a fairly weak hole. The 5th looks nice, and the tee box is probably the best place to take a picture, but there’s nothing that makes this hole amazing. Of course, it’s not exactly a bad hole, it’s just not amazing. The horseshoe green is neat though, and certainly helps add to the hole.

The 6th is one of the best green complexes on the golf course.

The 6th hole is another long par 4 (but what par 4 on a 7700 yard golf course isn’t long), but is refreshing. One of the best green complexes on the course, the green is sandwiched between bunkers left and right, and a dunes on the right. The green is also elevated, something that isn’t very common at Chambers Bay.

The 9th is another beautifully looking hole with Puget Sound in the background.

One of the weaker holes on the course, the par 3 9th feels forced to be there. It’s as if Robert Trent Jones II said “we need a crazy par 3 that’s very picturesque,” as if the 15th or 17th don’t exist — both of which are picturesque holes. Of course, there’s not a ton he could do. The terrain would be very difficult to work a routing. Nonetheless, it’s still a beautiful hole.

After making the turn, we get to the par 4 10th, and is, in my opinion, the best 4 on the course. The hole is sandwiched in between two massive dunes, and features a few fairway bunkers left and right.

The tee shot at the par 4 10th.

After the tee shot, you’re looking at a beautiful green complex, that if you hit it you likely have a decent look at birdie.

Looking at the approach to the par 4 10th. You can see the sectioned off areas of the greens. A lot of them featured dead spots and had them roped off to help preserve them as much as possible.

The par 4 12th, the drivable hole at Chambers Bay, was the most interesting hole to watch on TV. In all honesty, the hole doesn’t really give you a reason to lay up. Everything funnels towards the green, and only one bunker short left guards this green. Below is looking back at the 12th (left) and looking up at the 12th (right).

After the 12th, the course features some meaty holes. The 13th and 14th are both very strong par 4’s, but the 14th in particular is a wonderful golf hole.

A dogleg left around a waste area full of bunkers are the main defence to this hole. A bunker in the middle of the fairway helps add strategy to this hole, which forces the player to decide if they want to go between the bunker mine field on the left and the bunker in the middle of the fairway and have a shorter yardage, or play right of the bunker and have a longer yardage for the second shot.


Overall, the 14th is a beautiful hole, and one of the better holes on the course.

The 15th (shown below), is one of the most picturesque holes on the course, and a wonderful par 3. Other than the green complex, which is borderline unfair in certain places, I think this hole is wonderful. Softening the green might help, but overall, a great hole, and the start of a great closing stretch along Puget Sound.

After playing the 15th, you’re treated with a nice par 4 along the train tracks and Puget Sound. A slight dogleg right around another large bunker complex.

The tee shot at the par 4 16th, where Brandon Grace lost the U.S. Open.

The hole is another hole that the ball can be fed towards the middle of the green, and is certainly helpful towards a back pin, which is tough to get it there on the fly.

Looking back at the par 4 16th.

The 17th is perhaps the craziest green on the golf course, and in my opinion needs to be softened, but is a solid hole. The hole features some crazy contours within the green, and depending on where the pin is, they can help funnel the ball towards the pin, or away from the pin.

The par 3 17th is the last of a rather strong set of par 3’s.

The 18th — like the 1st — is another duel par hole, that can play as a par 4 and a par 5. The hole is a great par 5. Trouble everywhere, but still a legitimate birdie or even eagle chance.

The tee shot at the par 5 closer. The tee shot is perfect just right of the left fairway bunker, which will give you a chance to get home in two.

Once you get your tee shot in the fairway, you’re forced with the choice of going for the green, which features a fair amount of trouble around the green (but also a fair amount of reward. Jordan Speith and Dustin Johnson showed how you could funnel the ball towards pin locations), or a huge bunker in the layup area, which is nicknamed “the coffin.”

“The Coffin” bunker features stairs to get into the bunker. I was 4 or 5 feet below the lip of the bunker. That’s my ball in there, but not the one I was playing with. I had to try one from here, and it’s incredibly hard!

If you lay up, you’ll be faced with a solid wedge into the green, but there’s a lot of bunkers in the layup area, demanding attention even for the layup.

Overall, Chambers Bay is a fantastic golf course, and one that was a great experience to play! I was very fortunate enough to play a U.S. Open golf course, and was one of my favorite rounds. My only criticism is the greens, which weren’t in the best of shape. However, I have heard they replaced the type of grass for something a little easier to grow, and if so, the golf course will be a lovely experience.

I know I can’t wait for the Open to be back. It was dramatic, exciting, and nerve-racking, and tested the player in every respect.

I would make a trip back to Chambers Bay in a heartbeat, and it should be on everyones bucket list.


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One Comment

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  1. Visited their course in May. Did not play but had lunch in their clubhouse which offered a superb view of the course and a walkway borders the top perimeter of the course.


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