News & ToursJune 22, 2015

Four Ways Chambers Bay Can Get Another U.S. Open

Sad reality: if Cameron Smith wins the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay this column is moot. Etch Jordan Spieth's name on the trophy, send a new golfing superstar headed to St. Andrews with a Grand Slam on his mind and highlight a finish for the ages. Voila! Legendary U.S. Open venue.

After a week of so many ups and downs, does Chambers Bay have a major championship life going forward? You bet.

But the place needs to address a few big ticket issues. And there is time. The USGA is committed or close to committing to U.S. Open venues through 2023, with likely trips to more classics in 2024-25.

- Embrace The Region. A vibrant sports town supported the event with exuberance. SeaTacians are not to blame for the lack of grandstand seating throughout the course or that the fake dunes were too fake to be used as stadium mounds. Bulldoze the multiple unnecessary "hummocks" blocking-views and commit to building more grandstands.

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- Get There In More Style. Nearly all concerns about commuting to the course did not become an issue other than understandable complaints about the shuttle ride length. For all the talk of trains, figure out the how to deliver 5000 fans each day. And remind everyone that Seattle/Tacoma proved great hosts cities that welcomed visitors with open arms.

Related: The winners and losers from Chambers Bay

- Tweak The Course. Yes, the fescue burned and the course is absurdly extreme in places, but Chambers Bay also rewarded a nice mix of players with just enough reward for the driver to produce a satisfying championship. The weather was superb and the setting other-worldly. But the design has issues. Turn the eighth hole and upper ninth tee areas into a par-3 course below the clubhouse, place a new par-4 8th and 9th on the lower area occupied by corporate tents. Come tournament time, play the first and eighteenth as par-5s in the championship. Then remind everyone of that epic finish and sit tight, because Chambers Bay will be remembered even more fondly in two years when the U.S. Open heads to the severe, remote and massive Erin Hills.

- Solve The Grass Issue. With most of the turf having burned up during the Open, the fescues may not be able to handle the heat and strain of a U.S. Open. Poa Annua isn't the answer either. How about some bent in the greens mix to help prevent the understandable player complaints? The USGA has a Green Section and no shortage of cash, maybe they can handle this part.

Follow @geoffshac


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