Pebble Beach, Pinehurst, Shinnecock, Oakmont. Those are U.S. Open courses. Times change. of course, even if golf doesn’t much like to. (Though remember a player did used to strike a feathery with a spoon.) But the U.S. Open forgoes all that “steeped in history” business this week and visits the Pacific Northwest for the first time. The golf course — in University Place, Washington — is called Chambers Bay. It’s a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design that, like many change agents, is drawing grumbles and even some hostility from the establishment. That is, the players.
“Ridiculous,” a “complete farce” were two early descriptions of the course from players. Henrik Stenson called Chambers Bay a “tricked up links course.” But Mike Davis, who’s in charge of the course setup for the USGA, says Chambers Bay is a “masterwork.” Everybody would do well, players included, to remember the terrific distinction made by Sandy Tatum, who ran the U.S. Open committee back in 1974, when Winged Foot was so difficult the results were called the “massacre at Winged Foot.” Accused of making the course conditions too hard, Tatum simply said: “We’re not trying to embarrass the best players in the world. We’re trying to identify them.”