Chambers Bay Guide

Chambers Bay, located in University Place, Washington, on Puget Sound southwest of Tacoma, is a British links-style course set to offer a unique challenge for this week’s US Open.

Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr, and first opened in 2007, the course will host its first ever major championship this week, and should provide the world’s best players with a rare Open Championship-like challenge and atmosphere on US soil.

Phil Mickelson summed it up: “It plays exactly like the British Open plays. The ball runs like the British; you’re hitting the same shots as the British, and so it is like a British Open in the United States.”

The course will be in the range of 7,200 to 7,600 yards for this week’s tournament, with the first hole and 18th alternating between par-four or a par-five during the week.

It features the three longest par fours in US Open history with the 546-yard 14th, the 537-yard 11th and the 13th at 534 yards.

There is only one tree on the entire course, a Douglas Fir behind the 15th green. There was talk of removing it, but Trent Jones said: “It appeals to me from an aesthetic view. Sometimes you leave things alone. There were discussions that you could see the Sound better if you took it out, but I think it highlights Puget Sound.”

The course also featured the deepest bunker in US Open history. Known as the Chambers Basement, it is situated about 100 yards short of the 18th green, so there aren’t very many players expected to land in it.

Chambers Bay hosted the 2010 US Amateur championship, and the scoring average over the two days of strokeplay was 79.25.

While we can expect better from the pros, there’s no doubt that the course will be no walk in the park. It is very much an unknown factor for virtually everyone in the field, and it could favour some of the Europeans more accustomed to the rolling hills and fairways, multitude of bump and run shots, and tricky fescue grass characteristic of a classic Scottish links course.

For a fly-over video guide to every hole on the course, click here.

Hole-by-hole (From the yardage guide)

Hole 1 (Puget Sound) – While designed to be played as both par 4 and par 5 during the U.S. Open, the opening hole at Chambers Bay is a welcoming par 5 that provides a very manageable start to the round. Most tee shots will finish short of the crest of the hill in the fairway, leaving a partially blind second shot. Approach shots must favor the right side and can utilize the contours along that side of the fairway to find the putting surface.

Hole 2 (Foxy) – The tee shot on this medium length par 4 plays through the dunes to a narrowed fairway. The shortest approach is from the left side of the fairway, but that route brings a large bunker into play. Play down the right side to take advantage of an open entrance to the green, which slopes from right to left, and is bisected by a large ridge.

Hole 3 (Blown Out) – The first of the short holes at Chambers Bay is a mid-iron for most players. The kidney-shaped green is guarded on the left by a deep bunker and a swale off the putting surface collects shots struck too long. A large kick-slope on the right redirects shots toward the center of the green.

Hole 4 (Hazard’s Ascent) – The fairway on this medium length uphill par 5 slopes significantly from left to right. The green is reachable in two shots for long hitters, though tee shots must avoid the immense bunker on the right. The green complex, which can be accessed from a strong fairway slope left of the green, is framed by a large bunker front and right with three blowout bunkers behind. The large and heavily contoured green features a right hand hole location, bordered on three sides by sand.

Hole 5 (Free Fall) – The elevated fifth tee offers players a panoramic view of Puget Sound and Chambers Bay. This long straightaway hole rewards a drive down the center. While the fairway is generous, massive bunker complexes protect either side. Tee shots that land left of center will chase toward the bunker and be faced with a semi blind approach. The green on this long par 4 is guarded by a deep fronting bunker.

Hole 6 (Deception Point) – Depending on the placement of the tee markers, the sixth hole is either a long, dogleg right or a short straightaway par 4. Regardless, favor the left side for an unobstructed view of a green perched between two bunkers. The slope from back to front encourages a low running approach.

Hole 7 (Humpback) – This long uphill par 4 turns hard from left to right. Taking an aggressive line over the large bunker on the right invites a shorter approach to the green, but also brings trouble into play. Tee shots played safely to the left will face a blind approach over the hummocks fronting the green. The severely uphill approach plays much longer than the actual yardage. A player who is unable to reach the green can play left of the hummocks to a narrow landing area short of the green.

Hole 8 (High Road / Low Road) – This fairway is much wider than it appears from the tee, but does slope from left to right. A drive struck down the left side of the fairway will be redirected to the middle, offering an open view of a long and narrow green. Contours to the left and in the back of the green will move approach shots back toward the center of the green.

Hole 9 (Olympus) – The teeing ground on this long par 3 is perched nearly 100 feet above the green. The oversized green slopes from left to right, providing assistance to players hoping to avoid the menacing bunker short and right of the putting surface. The contours on and around the green provide ample opportunity to get close to the hole. An alternate, lower tee has been installed to provide variety in setup for the U.S. Open.

Hole 10 (High Dunes) – This medium-length par 4 splits the two largest dunes on the golf course. The fairway narrows steadily the closer one comes to the green, making club selection off the tee crucial. A relatively flat green is nestled between the dunes and is flanked by deep bunkers front right and back left.

Hole 11 (Shadows) – This long par 4 plays straightaway, while the fairway curls in and around the dunes and waste areas. A tee shot over the central fairway dune leaves a middle-to long iron approach. The green is set into a slope from right to left and features a ridge bisecting the surface lengthwise.

Hole 12 (The Narrows) – An uphill, drivable par 4, the 12th is the narrowest hole on course. Lay up short or challenge the blowout bunker fronting the green. A very large and undulating green set in a punchbowl requires an accurate approach or lag putt. Strong contours all around this green invite creativity and imagination into your short game.

Hole 13 (Eagle Eye) – The placement of the tee shot is critical on this strong, dogleg right par-4. Though the fairway is the widest on the course, a tee shot down the right significantly reduces the length of the approach. A central bunker requires players to carefully choose their line of attack on the approach. Shots struck off line will be rejected by the knob on the left of the green, or a slope falling away on the right.

Hole 14 (Cape Fear) – The first task on this dramatic downhill par 4 is to decide how aggressive you wish to be off the tee. A large, deep waste area must be carried onto a fairway sloping from right to left. Mounding short and right of the putting surface will funnel shots onto a large green that tilts toward the fairway in front, but then slopes away toward a collection area beyond.

Hole 15 (Lone Fir) – This short par 3plays from an elevated tee and is fully exposed to the prevailing wind, making club selection critical. The well-defended green slopes from left to right. Standing watch in the distance, the Lone Fir is the only tree on the course.

Hole 16 (Beached) – This medium-length par 4 curves gently around a long bunker that flanks the entire right side of the hole. Tee shots should favor the left side to account for slope toward the bunker. The tabletop green is the smallest on the course and also slopes dramatically from left to right.

Hole 17 (Derailed) – With two distinct teeing grounds, this picturesque par 3 plays into the prevailing breeze. The lower tee offers a level shot and requires a long carry over the waste bunker, while the upper tee provides a drop shot with full view of the green and its surrounds. The putting surface is split into obvious halves, allowing only accurately struck shots near the hole.

Hole 18 (Tahoma) – The home hole is a slightly uphill par 5, surrounded by dunes. The remnants of vast concrete sorting bins loom over the teeing grounds. After navigating a fairway dotted by bunkers and swales, built to accommodate play as a par 4 or par 5 during the U.S. Open, a large green featuring multiple levels and strong contours awaits. Imagination and a deft putting touch are required to pass the final exam in this championship test.