UNIVERSITY PLACE — Mike Davis was introduced to Chambers Bay long before it was selected to host the 2015 U.S. Open, when the site was still mounds of sand and gravel.
It’s understandable his excitement is building with less than a year to go before the tournament is played in the Pacific Northwest for the first time.
Davis, the executive director of the USGA, was on site at Chambers Bay this week and said Friday that he could not be more pleased with the current state of the course.
Bringing the championship to Chambers Bay is a risk. No golf course has been rewarded with the national championship at such an early age since Hazeltine. No golf course that is made up of all fine fescue grass has ever hosted the U.S. Open.
It makes Chambers Bay a great unknown, especially to the players who will eventually be tested there.
“The players that embrace it and say, ‘How am I going to play this?’ they are the ones that ultimately succeed. They figure out a way to do it,” Davis said. “I think it’s going to be fascinating because they’re going to see things here they’ve never seen at a U.S. Open before and it’s going to be fun to watch.”
The big concern for Davis and the staff at Chambers Bay in the coming months will be the winter and how the fescue grass responds to going dormant during the winter then beginning to grow again in the early spring. A handful of greens were reseeded in the past year, but the priority is making sure all the greens are healthy.
Part of Davis’ trip was also about getting a feel for the conditions his staff may face in getting the course ready next June. The only test event held at Chambers Bay was the 2010 U.S. Amateur and that was played in August after a lengthy stretch without rain. During that tournament, the course became too firm and fast for the liking of players and Davis.
Just to show the unpredictability of Northwest weather in June, a squall coming off Puget Sound brought wind and heavy rain for a few minutes while Davis spoke, and was followed by sun.
“Whoever brought the wind today, if you don’t mind bringing it next year about this time we would be pretty happy about that,” said Dan Burton, head of the USGA championship committee.
Davis said the course will play to a par 70, just like previous U.S. Open courses. He plans on alternating holes 1 and 18 as par 4s and 5s during the tournament, adding to the unique flexibility available at Chambers Bay.
He said the course would likely play between 7,200 and 7,600 yards.
U.S. Open tickets went on sale earlier this month and championship director Danny Sink said a couple of days of the tournament are nearly sold out. The USGA is expecting 30,000 spectators each day.