Chambers Bay A Walk For The Ages

The View Of Chambers Bay Golf Course And The Puget Sound Beyond From The Top Of The Golf Course Looking Southwest - Image Credit Alfie Lau

by Alfie Lau

It’s the U.S. Open unlike any other. Walking paths going up, down, along and around sand dunes are what spectators have faced all week and it’s so tough that caddies have estimated their walks, inside the ropes, coming in at 8 miles per round.

For us media types, we’re walking a similar amount, but not getting to every part of the golf course. From our media centre, it’s an easy walk to the ninth and 18th greens, and then out to the water, where we can watch the 2nd, 3rd, 16th and 17th holes.

But the northeast quadrant of the course, featuring the 12th green, 13th and 14th holes, 4th, 5th and 7th holes, is only accessible via Gate 2, which is more commonly known as the hole where residents in the University Place neighbourhood enter.

So it’s a good thing that British Columbia Golf has set up its temporary Washington headquarters at a residence in University Place.

It’s only a 10-minute walk from our house on a quiet street with great views of the water and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to Gate 2, so prior to Round 3, I decided to make the walk with Vancouver Golf Tour Commissioner Fraser Mulholland.

It’s a calf-burning uphill walk to Gate 2, but when we get there, we’re greeted by a table with several half empty beverage containers and can upon can of aerosol sunscreen and bug spray.

It appears aerosol cans aren’t allowed through security so the table serves as a spot for everybody to apply their first and only coat of protection.
Mulholland, as a PGA of Canada Class A Professional, gets free admission with his membership card, so when he shows his ID at Will Call, he gets his daily pass and inside Gate 2 we go.

image credit alfie lau

The Application Of Sunscreen Courtesy The Table Of Confiscated/Abandoned Aerosol Cans Is Undertaken By The 'Commish'

To our right is the Trophy Club and 1895 Club, the VIP areas where bigwigs are wined and dined as they step outside to watch play on the dogleg right 13th hole.

We stay to the left and walk along a path normally used by walkers and cyclists. Chambers Bay is part golf course, part community amenity, so the sight of walkers, dogs, children, strollers and cyclists during every week but U.S. Open week is common.

For this week though, it’s a great way to go see the fourth green and fifth teebox, where the pairing of Colin Montgomerie and Webb Simpson play the hole.

Mulholland is happy to see Simpson’s caddy, Paul Tesori, working hard, because on Sunday night, Mulholland his co-hosts, Jeff Paterson and Bill Wilms, will have Tesori on their Sunday Night Golf Show on TSN1040 (end of shameless plug).

As we walk down the fifth fairway, we look up to the long par-5 8th hole, which plays along the eastern boundary of the course. Anni Shelley of the Northwest Golf Media Association is marshaling on the 8th hole and very few spectators can access that part of the course.

The only way to see much of that hole is to continue going along Chambers Bay Walk, all the way to Gate 4 and the normal clubhouse for the course. That’s all well and good until you realize you have a long windy walk down to the 9th green and 10th teebox if you choose this option.

My first experience with the 8th hole came in 2012 when I played Chambers Bay for the first time. My friend and I were paired with a couple of local players and as we walked down the right side of 8, one of the locals had a heart attack.

Down he went and after a couple of hurried calls to get paramedics and an ambulance to attend to him, my buddy and I were faced with a dilemma: What do we do with both the victim and his friend off to hospital. “Glad they’re getting the care they need, but I’m lying 2,” I said as we continued on with our round.

Back to our Saturday morning walk, we skirt the 10th and 1st teeboxes and get back on our normal walking path to the media centre, where I load up on some water, fruit and yogurt for Mulholland.

We’re headed to Spectator Square to meet up with Salmon Arm Golf Club Teaching Professional Jesse Crowe, who has his son DJ and father for a special Father’s Day Treat.

Crowe has an extra Sunday ticket for us, which is needed by 2013 PGA of Canada Teacher Of The Year Rob Houlding for his wife Belinda. The Houldings are making their way south Saturday, just in time to cook a gourmet meal for us at our University Place home.

Crowe and Mulholland dutifully head off to the Merchandise Pavilion to pick up the essentials, mindful of the fact that Inside Golf will still be here on Monday, when whatever is left at the pavilion is sold at a 50 per cent discount.

The walk, all told, takes 45 minutes from our house to my seat in the media centre and it allowed me to finish up my tour of every hole at Chambers Bay for the 2015 U.S. Open.