News & ToursFebruary 8, 2008

State of Washington Awarded Its First U.S. Open

HOUSTON--In an extension of what anyone who wants to see golf grow has to view as an extremely positive trend, the United States Golf Association on Friday said it awarded the 2015 U.S. Open to yet another public course--Chambers Bay, a municipal links on lower Puget Sound in Washington state.

As a prep for the big show, Chambers Bay, which is the work of Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Bruce Charleton, will also get the 2010 U.S. Amateur Championship. It will be the third municipal course to play host to the U.S. Open, following Bethpage Black in 2002 and Torrey Pines later this year. Bethpage also has the 2009 U.S. Open. The USGA also announced Friday that Erin Hills Golf Course in Wisconsin, which has this year's U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship, will play host to the 2011 U.S. Amateur.

"We are excited to take the U.S. Open Championship and the U.S. Amateur to such an awesome site," says Jim Hyler, chairman of the USGA Championship Committee. "This is the first time the U.S. Open has been to Washington and we are confident that the golf course will provide a challenging test for the best players in the world, as well as a great spectator experience for those who attend the event and watch it online and on television."

Chambers Bay, opened in June 2007, is the centerpiece of a 930-acre park purchased by Pierce County, Wash., in 1992 that today features scenic trails and coastline vistas where a sand and gravel quarry once stood. Erin Hills is a links-style championship course designed by Mike Hurdzan and Dana Fry of Hurdzan-Fry Architects, and Ron Whitten, Architecture Editor for Golf Digest.

While U.S. Opens have been played at high-end resort courses such as Pebble Beach and Pinehurst No. 2, the move in 2002 to Bethpage, which is a New York state park, was the first time the national championship was taken to a truly public course. That Open was a success by every measuring stick--attendance, enthusiasm of the galleries, corporate hospitality sales, the quality of the venue and the winner, Tiger Woods.

This year the bring-golf-to-the-people trend continues at Torrey Pines, located in a public park north of San Diego. The course the players experience and the fans see at the U.S. Open will be very different than the one Woods romped across in winning the Buick Invitational by eight strokes two weeks ago.

"We are going to have a lot of fun there," says Mike Davis, the guy who sets up the courses for the USGA.  "We'll sneak tees up, move them around, make holes play differently day to day so the players have a variety of challenges. Like Pebble Beach in 2000, Torrey is a different course in June than it is in February. We will have no problem getting it firm."

Davis says the par-5 13th hole, for example, will play from three different tees and, with the prevailing wind at the back that time of the year, will still pose a risk/reward decision about going for the green in two even at 617 yards.

--Ron Sirak

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