By Cameron Healey
Can you believe it? Eight years in the making and the 115th U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington, played over the course of four rounds, June 18th-21st, is now but a distant memory. From the very first tee shot at 7 a.m. on hole 1 by none other than Northwest native Michael Putnam, to the stunning three putt meltdown from 12 feet on the final hole by Dustin Johnson, which then opened the door for Jordan Spieth to hoist the U.S. Open Trophy (completing half of the Grand Slam at the tender age of 21), the tournament was filled with more than its share of dramatic and controversial moments.
Regular contributor, Tony Dear examines both the final result and how well Chambers Bay held up to the intense scrutiny both from inside and outside the ropes in his story titled, “Final Round Drama Beats Week-long Dramatics” on page 18-19. For me, as a member of the 1000+ credentialed media cohorts who walked (and climbed) Chambers’ beguiling 18 holes for the better part of 7 days, some of the highlights included bearing witness to many of the world’s best golfers dissecting and waxing poetic about the golf course, the region, and, yes, for some not-so-shy players, the state of the greens. I’ll let Tony touch on such moments as Gary Player’s rant about the ‘tragedy’ that is Robert Trent Jones, Jr.’s golf course, or Billy Horschel’s dramatic monologue about his loss of respect for USGA Executive Director, Mike Davis and the USGA for their role in the state of the greens and the spectator experience overall.
But for me, the lasting impression of the week-long event was wholeheartedly positive and I could not have asked for a better experience. While it was hard-going at times, traversing many of the sandy areas and trying to determine the best viewing areas to take in the tournament and your favorite group (a common complaint from spectators); the weather, overall spectator energy, and visual splendor of Chambers Bay Golf Course— with the glistening Puget Sound in the background— was truly spectacular. I loved it. The golf, for the most part, was terrific (sans Tiger Woods’ opening round 80). And being on hand as a member of the media to witness this historical event is something that I will not soon forget, nor did I take for granted.
Yes, there were valid concerns regarding the inconsistency of the greens, but the course set-up and routing was generally considered ‘fair’ by most of the world’s golfing elite. Heck, all you needed to do was look at the scoreboard on Championship Sunday and feel you’ve still got the best players in the mix battling it out to win the toughest test in golf. With some agronomical adjustments, whether wholesale or remedial in nature, I can’t help but feel bullish about the USGA returning to Chambers Bay at some point in the future—with the world’s best golfers not far behind. Well, Billy Horschel or Ian Poulter might have to get back to us on that one!
Let me ask you; as a golf fan, what made the U.S. Open week special for you? Do you have a story you wish to share?