Golfers are already on the course for the final round of the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.
Will this be the final time the course hosts a major professional golf event?
The place has been heavily criticized by players and golf analysts for the poor conditions of the greens and by the fans for the poor viewing areas.
I walked the place Thursday, Friday and Saturday as a spectator, and it’s tough going. The terrain makes it difficult to walk and all of the sand dunes, most of them off limits to fans, make it difficult to watch. The sight lines are non-existent on some holes and unless you’ve plopped down in one of the grandstands, you can’t get close to many of the players.
Still, the uniqueness of the place, the beauty of it all, is stunning.
Would I pay $110 for a ticket if the U.S. Open came back? Not if they keep things the way they are. The USGA says it’s worried about the safety of fans, which is why it keeps fans off of the slippery hillsides and dunes. There are ways to get around that. Build some paths up those hills, cut out some amphitheatre-like seating some of the larger hills that have fantastic viewing areas.
Put some ropes up closer to the fairways and let the fans get closer to the players. There are certainly ways to make it more fan-friendly. The USGA blew it this time around concerning the fans.
And there are certainly ways to fix those greens. Some have already been re-done since the 2010 U.S. Amateur was played at Chambers Bay. Players rave about the greens on No. 7 and No. 13. Re-do the others. Give the players a unique test of golf, but let them put on greens that are as beautiful as the surrounding Puget Sound area. Because of the terrain and the slopes on the greens, the USGA can still make sure that the winning score will be closer to even par than -20.
So going into Sunday’s final round, I’ll be back at the course, but this time I’m working. There’s no cheering in the media center, but I’ll be pulling for the local guy, Central Kitsap Troy Kelly, to have the round of his life (he tees off at 10:29 a.m.), and I’ll be looking forward to what the USGA has to say about the future of Chambers Bay.
Will this be the course’s swan song with big-time golf, or is it just the beginning?