The course is almost always the star of the U.S. Open, especially during the pre-tournament practice days. But the hype and drama around the venue is amplified even more this year, given that Chambers Bay is just 8 years old and has never hosted a professional tournament. It’s also in a part of the country that rarely hosts Tour pros, and a course that presents more of a British Open-style challenge than anything we’re accustomed to seeing at the USGA national championship.
We’ve heard so much about all the elevation changes, the extreme slopes of the greens, the lack of trees and the setup that gives the USGA’s Mike Davis the ability to change the par on a hole from day to day. It’s completely unique in so many ways, but after walking around on Tuesday, the one thing that stood out instantly was just how hard the ground was everywhere it was mowed. Walking across the chipping range and practice area felt like a stroll across a concrete parking lot, and it was hard to imagine how some of these balls will ever stop, especially with the slopes on the greens. This video from Lee McCoy, the sectional qualifier from UGA, reinforced just how hardpan everything is out there and rocketed around Twitter.
It’s been a dry spring in the Seattle-Tacoma area, and this week is expected to be on the hotter and drier side as well. Davis has said they put a significant amount of water on the course through the first two days this week, but it’s really, really firm out there already.