Chris Ming has caddied for Chambers Bay since it opened 8 years ago. He has been to Q-School 17 years in a row, and has made it to the second stage 5 times. When playing full time on the Gateway Tour, Chris missed getting to the final stage of Q-School by two strokes one year, and by one stroke the following. He's played in three web.com events and also played in the Canadian open in 2005, missing the cut. His biggest strengths are putting and reading greens.
A fitting name for the opening hole, the Puget Sound provides a constant backdrop as players navigate their way through 18 holes of Championship golf. This region is known for spectacular views of the Olympic Mountain range situated in full-view directly across the Sound. The opening hole reminds players of the most significant and important component of the Chambers Bay course.
Players will want to aim at the left edge of the bunker for their tee shot. The opening hole will play 600 yards, but if the course is firm, the bombers on tour will drive it 360-380 yards off the tee.
The bombers will have no issue reaching the green in 2 shots. The medium length hitters should get home in 2 if they get their drives out there around 330 yards. This will leave them about 240 yards to the front edge, and the shot is a power cut off the TV tower, most likely with a hybrid. The shorter hitters will want to lay up down the right center of the fairway.
It is best to favor the right to right center of the green as everything will want to come down off the hill and move towards the water.
Coming off that big sloping hill, off the side, everything wants to go a little quicker towards the water, and slower back towards that hill. Downhill towards the water is going to be extremely quick. There are some putts that are downhill, but going back towards the hill, and players traditionally want to play them downhill. However, if it's a slight downhill slope it'll actually play level. That's something that nobody picks up on unless their caddie is relaying that information, and this holds true for every green on the course.
This hole garners its name for a couple of reasons, the first being that it pays homage to one of the great links holes in golf, the 14th at Royal Dornoch in Scotland; and secondly, because Fox Island serves as a serene backdrop on player's approach shots into this green. Usually playing downwind, If players find the fairway off the tee, this should be an attackable birdie hole.
Playing just over 400 yards, danger lurks up the left side of the fairway in the form of a fairway bunker 284 yards from the tee box. The rough on #2 is only about 6 feet wide before going into the knee-high fescue, which is some of the tallest on the course. The prudent play will be to play a shot at the right edge of that bunker, and because of the run-out most players will look to hit a shot about 240 yards off the tee.
A 240 yard tee shot leaves a pitching wedge or 9-Iron into the green, and players will want to favor the right center of the green in order to avoid the large, deep bunker that guards the left side of the green.
The name of this hole gives credence to the invisible, yet very important hazard of links-style golf, the wind. Swirling winds will constantly change the way this moderate length, yet tricky par-3 plays.
Playing just under 200 yards and a couple yards downhill, depending on the pin location, players are going to look to play the ball out to the right, and land it about three or four paces on, allowing the ball to release into the middle of the back portion of the green.
For regular play a lot of players will hit shots up on the mound to the right of the green, and the ball will release down right next to the hole. However, in the U.S. Open it is going to be so firm that if the pros hit that slope it'll kick their ball all the way across and off the green, or even into the deep bunker guarding the left side of the green. They will also need to be careful to not come up short, right of the green. These shots will roll 30 yards backwards down into a deep bunker leaving a difficult shot back up to the green.
Named for Hazard Stevens, one of the first climbers to ascend Mt. Rainier in 1870. At 500 yards in length, the uphill, dog-leg right 4th is traditionally a par-5, but during the U.S Open it is going to be played as a par-4.
The long hitters will play up the left-center, avoiding the fairway bunker at about 310 yards down the right side. I can see the medium, and shorter hitters driving their first shots down the right side, and then playing their second from the right of this sloped fairway.
I expect the long hitters will be hitting mid-irons, and the short to medium guys will hit long irons in. Whether the pros find their tee shots long up the left side of the fairway or shorter up the right, on their second shot most players are going to play to the left, left-center of the re-designed green complex.
This green was the first to be redesigned way back before the 2010 U.S. Amateur. It was found that under tournament conditions and speeds, the green was too small to hold shots. By enlarging the green, it is now more receptive to longer approach shots that are hit into this hole.
The 5th hole is a straight-away par-4, and has one of the best views on the golf course. From the tee box, players are overlooking both the whole golf course, and the Puget Sound. The name Free Fall is due to the dramatic elevation change from tee to fairway.
You're looking at about a sixty foot drop from the back tee down to the fairway. Bunkers left and right of the fairway create a bottleneck at about 320 yards. The ideal position off the tee is down the right center of the bottleneck. Some of the longer hitters may elect to hit 3-wood instead of driver. Any shot that gets running down the left side of the fairway is most likely going to collect into the left bunker.
There's a pot-bunker that sits in the front part of the green. For most of the pin placements, I actually like going left of the pot-bunker, even though there's more space to the right. This can be tricky since visually it looks like you want to go right. The only time I like going right is to a front-right or a middle-right pin. Other than that I like players to play left of that bunker.
Being left of the bunker makes for an easier putt than putting back uphill, or back to the flag. If the pros are short, they're short right and the pin is middle-right or back-right, they have a tougher putt because they'll have to negotiate up and downhill. If they land it pin-high right, the green runs off to the right and down to a collection area.
A slight dogleg right, the long par-4 6th typically plays into a southwest wind. Named for many geographic landmarks in Western Washington, most notably, Deception pass, this hole has some visual tricks for players to navigate.
The tee shot plays slightly downhill, and players will look to take their drives down the center to the left-center of the fairway.
The approach from the fairway will take an accurate mid to long iron, as players will face about a 5-yard uphill shot, that is typically into the wind. One thing that makes this hole really difficult, are the three bunkers that guard the green. The first runs down the right of the fairway short of the green, and from the approach it looks like it's right up to the frontage of the green. There's actually about fifteen yards between the lip of the bunker and the front edge of the green. The other two bunkers guard both the left and right sides of the green, leaving little room for error.
This green putts back to front, and it's probably one of the quicker putts on the golf course. There is a small shelf in the front quarter of the green, and one of the pin placements will be just short of this shelf. If players get beyond the shelf, they'll have to barely breathe on their putts when putting back to the hole, or they'll risk going off the front of the green.
Probably one of the more intimidating holes on the golf course, the 500 yard uphill par-4 7th gets its name from the two humps in the fairway players will be hitting to off the tee, and for the humpback whales who have been known to occasionally visit the South Sound.
The tee shot plays about ten yards uphill. The longest players are going to be going at the humpbacks, which are about a 300 yard uphill carry. The medium to short hitters are going to aim at the shelf to the left, which is right around 265 yards to carry. For the US Open, Chambers Bay brought in the right rough about 15 yards. Players will risk running into this rough if they hit it over the second shelf.
From there the approach shot plays about twelve yards uphill. Any front pin placements are going to be very hard to stick a shot close. This is just because with the front pin, players are going to almost have to hit something that hits into the face just short of the green. If a player takes that risk and fails, the ball is going to roll back down to that second humpback, which is 30-35 yards short of the green. I would say the best spot to hit an approach shot is just right of center, landing it about five to six paces on the green. For the most part, it's going to roll out to the back third, if not the back portion of the green.
This was a green that was redesigned after the U.S. Amateur. It had a massive false front on the green. What they did is basically took the false front out of the green. They dropped the green about eight feet and leveled it out, and made it a lot more playable. They did a great job with the redesign on that.
The unique thing about #8, is that it is the only hole in the golf course with no bunkers. The straightaway par-5 is a little over 600 yards, and will typically play into the wind.
The tee shot is slightly uphill, and the best line to hit a draw at the middle of the clubhouse that is way up on the top of the property. The longest guys will be giving this green a shot in two.
The medium length hitters are going to play down the right side, leaving themselves a wedge, and kind of hit it back into the left-center of the green for their second shot. The one thing about missing this green left, they're going to have a really hard time hitting their next shot onto the green. It's probably going to roll off the green down into the fairway. Even though they will want to come in the left-center of that green, they won't want to miss the green left. They'd rather end up missing it right, just so they will have a shot.
The longest guys are going to need to hit a straight shot on their second shot to get home in two, but ideally they're going to want to draw it back into the hillside just a little bit. If they get too high on the hill it'll actually run off to the right side of the green. They will be looking at about eight feet from the left edge of the green, up the bank, before they get into the tall fescue.
Off to the right side of the green is probably about 15 to 20 yards of fairway to the right of the green, and then it's basically a drop-off into fescue. If a guy blows one way right, he'll end up down in a pit 60 to 80 feet below the green.
For the guys laying up, their third shot, if it's a back pin, there is a back tier to this green that is about 15 paces long. What a lot of them will do is utilize a little bit of the backstop, which goes up about 12 feet high before it gets to the rough. If they get too high up in the rough it'll roll 60, 70 feet back down into the middle of the green, but what they're going to want to do is use maybe two to three feet of that backstop as a buffer and bring it back to the pin.
Arguably the best view on the golf course. With two tee locations, this hole gets its name from the upper tees and Mount Olympus. The upper tees are the highest point on the course, just like Mount Olympus, which is the highest peak in the Olympic Mountains. On a nice day you can see the Olympics over Fox Island from this vantage point.
UPPER TEE The original back tee, which they'll probably play two days is a 227 yard down-hill, par-3, which drops 100 feet to the green. Ideally the tee shot here is to the front-left quarter of the green. This can take the bunker solely out of play, and the green will feed the ball back over to the middle or even to the right side of the green if they play the front-left slope correctly. The one thing about this hole, from the upper tee, is if you get too far left and pull a shot that doesn't get hung up in the tall rough, what will happen is that ball will actually rush all the way down into the back bunker. That slope is so severe that it will actually run all the way down into the bunker. If a player misses a shot left, up in the rough between the closely mown area and the grandstands, they will be lucky to keep it on the green and out of the rough.
Another tricky thing about the 9th hole is the wind. There can be wind from the southwest, and it will wrap around the corner, so it feels like the wind is actually in your face the whole time. Though, if you look at the flag it is still blowing from left to right. Players will have to account not only for the downhill, about 30 yards downhill, which is almost three clubs, but then you've got to figure out how much, I always play the first third or half a shot plays into the wind, but then the next half of the shot the wind's not hurting you, but it is hurting you from left to right. You can barely see the green, because it's elevated enough where you can barely see the green. Another big no-no on this hole is long, basically long and left are bad. Even though the bunkers are right, short of bunkers are way better than being left or long here.
LOWER TEE From the bottom tee, they are looking somewhere in the 235 yard range, playing uphill about ten to twelve yards. From the bottom tee a hit to the center to right-center of the green, utilizing the big backstop is best. The wind here can get severe, and when the Washington State Amateur was held here in 2013, there was a 30 to 40 mile an hour wind in their face. Guys who hit the ball 265 to 270 with their driver couldn't get to the green
The 10th splits the two largest dunes at Chambers. While it is a shorter par-4 that will play around 435 yards, it is demanding.
A tee shot at the left center opens the green up a little bit more, and gives players a little more favorable angle into the green. The tee shot is downhill, and there are a couple bunkers in play off to the right and to the left. They sit at about 280 yards out, so some players will lay up short, leaving a medium to long iron into a really tight area.
The thing about this hole is it gets tighter and tighter as it gets closer to the green. A second shot coming into the left side of the green takes the front right bunker out of play. Now there is a little bunker tucked into the back left corner so players will want to hit it to a front gutter yardage. Another thing about this hole is your second shot plays anywhere from 3 to 8 yards uphill. However, this is another hole where the wind is kind of tricky. Sometimes the wind will be coming out of the southwest or sometimes out of the north. What it'll do is it'll shoot in from the backside of the green. It'll be in your face when in reality the normal wind isn't blowing in your face so players will have to take that into account.
The bunker on the right goes up 70% to the end of the green, so if players carry that they're going to end up shooting off the back of the green. There is a pretty good slope on the left side of the green that will shoot the ball to the middle or even the right side of the green. Players won't want to take it over that right bunker, unless it's a back pin. If it's a back pin, then they will take it over that right bunker and utilize a little bit of a backstop on the backside of the green.
A short walk off of the 10th green, players are going to head around a big bin to the left and climb up a dune to hit their tee shots. Chambers says the name Shadows came about after an early evening walk-through where the natural undulations of the fairway exploded in the rays of the falling sun.
The tee shot is right around a 40 yard drop to the fairway, and from here there is only one place to hit, down the left side. There is a bunker about a 280 yard carry down the left side, and a huge hump in the middle of the fairway which takes about 300 to carry. The bombers are going to hit it over that hump, the medium to short players are going to take it down the left side of the fairway. What is interesting about this hole is if they set it up and the wind happens to change in the afternoon and come out of the north, now all of a sudden from the back tee this hole might turn into almost a par five. Shorter players are going to have to figure out how to carry that bunker because if they bail out to the right, they won't be able to get home. They'll have to lay it down the left.
Once in the fairway, if players find their tee shots down the left side to center it is one of the flatter fairways. However, there are a couple pretty good humps to negotiate if they are up the right side. The approach shot plays about 3 to 4 yards uphill, and the players in the U.S. Open are going to be hitting medium to long irons in. There might even be some hybrids and possibly a three wood or two coming into this green. The second shot plays 3 to 4 yards uphill. The ideal line here is going to be the very right edge of this green.
The right center to right edge of this green, and even a little bit right of the green, the land slopes to the left and from the right edge of the green up to the fescue players will have about 20 yards of slope to utilize. They will want to play that right side and let the contours move the ball back to the middle of the green. Number eleven's green complex on the left side is similar to number one where if you miss the green left, it goes rushing down 40 to possibly 70 yards left of the green.
Referring to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the Puget Sound passage just north of the hole, this short par-4 features two massive dunes flanking the fairway and it's an inviting gamble to take aim at this driveable green.
The longest hitters will hit driver or 3-wood, medium to short guys are going to be hitting driver and looking to play it right at the bunker. There is a little bit of room right of the green, but players will have to contend with a huge 30 foot tall dune on their right and fescue that runs almost all the way down this dune. They'll also have a dune on the left that is 25 feet tall. Left is dead on this tee shot, if players hit left, it will head into the trees and players will not find it.
The ideal shot is to hit driver or three wood a little bit right of the bunker. A shot here will let the contours kick the ball onto the right center of the green, and it can even get into the center of the green if it is flying fast. The lip on the bunker is about 6 feet tall on the right side and about 10 feet tall on the left side. If players get in that bunker, it is not the worst spot for a front pin, but it would be about a 50 yard bunker shot to a back pin. With a back pin, players might want to think about laying up so they can hit a wedge close.
I would say the rough around this green might be the worst rough on the golf course so if you do go for it and you get up in that rough, it looks like alfalfa. If the pin is on the back right, and a player lands the front of the green there is no guarantee of getting close, and players could face a 100 foot putt up and over some big contours.
If there is a very back left pin, and a player puts a drive up on the front right or back right portion of the green, there might be some guys hitting wedges off the green. I think from that position it's going to be hard to get within 30 feet of the pin even though you're on the same green. I would call it the wildest green on the golf course.
This long par-4, playing a little over 500 yards and it doglegs left about 45 to 50 degrees. The name Eagle Eye refers to the wildlife in the area. Also, as the shortest of the long holes, there is an opportunity for low scores at thirteen.
A white camera pole sits on the walking path and most guys are going to use that as their target. The medium to short guys are going to hit drivers, and you might see the long guys hitting three woods, possibly hybrids depending on where the tee's are set up. There's a dune that sits just right of the fairway, that's probably 30 feet tall. Players are going to be taking it over the left corner of that dune and placing it down into a pocket on the right portion of the fairway so they can hit a shorter shot into this green. If the guy takes it down the left side of the fairway, they're going to be left with a couple hundred yards over a bunker that sits right in front of the green.
Players are going to be hitting anywhere from a medium to longer iron into the green. The ideal play is to hit it over the bunker, landing on the front left quarter of the green, which will allow the ball to work back into the middle.
This par-4 doglegs probably 40 degrees left, but also drops about 70 feet from the tee box to the fairway. It can also stretch back to possibly 550 yards long. As a traditional "Cape" hole it crescents around the waste on the left side, and can strike fear into players when choosing their line off the tee.
With the waste area running all down the left side, you're talking about 7 acres of waste area sand. These dunes with fescue on them are not a pretty place to be. To shave some yards off of this hole players are going to want to hit it down the left side of the fairway. There is a pot bunker that sits in the middle of the fairway, and typically players want to aim at the left edge of that pot bunker and play a little draw. The bombers who can carry it 290 plus will be left with a nine iron or wedge. Medium or short players from the back box are going to have to look to play it right at the pot bunker. They're going to be looking at a 200 yard shot from there.
This approach shot can be tricky, from up there, they're looking at about 15 yards down to the green so they're looking more in the 175 to 185 range hitting on this green. The front right of this green has got a huge hump just short of it and if that pin is tucked to the front right or even middle right, a shot that is hit to just left of the center of the green gets it pin high. If players carry that hump, short right of the green, more times than not, as firm as it's going to be it's going to go shooting over the back of the green.
There is a bunker that runs along the left side of the green, but the green doesn't really run into that bunker. If they get a pin placed on the left side they won't want to really fire at that location, so they're going to want to play it a little bit right of the pin instead.
With that being said, I'd rather see players be a little long of the front right and be coming back uphill to the pin than short. If they're short a bit then they'll have to putt, or some guys might try a flop shot, over this 15 to 20 foot tall hump. I've always thought this is a pretty interesting hole.
This is named for the lone tree on the course. Tt can be seen from many of the other holes and offers a constant point of reference to players as they navigate their way through the dunes. It also changes in elevation from hole to hole. In the inaugural season Chambers was open, someone tried to cut the iconic tree down, but thankfully the lone standing tree on the course was saved.
This hole can play up to 240 from the back tee. Players will be looking at about 20 to 25 feet of drop from tee box to green. This green is guarded by a lot of bunkering. There is a bunker behind the green, around the right of the green, and in front of the green. These bunkers basically almost touch the green. They'll also have a pot bunker that is about 5 feet deep just to the left of the green. There are all kinds of hazards around this green.
I would say this is probably our most shallow green on the golf course. I see a lot of guys playing a shot to the left side or left center of the green and the reason is because there is a back board off the left side of the green. Hitting that long of a shot into the green, some guys are going to have to utilize that backboard in order to hold the green. The backboard from the back left corner of the green up to the fescue is probably 25 to 30 feet so they do have some room there before they get up into the fescue.
Hole #16 runs from north to south and parallel along the railroad tracks and Puget Sound. With the right side of the fairway almost entirely lined by sand, it is easy to see why this hole was aptly named Beached.
The thing about the 16th is that there is a waste area down the right, but it is also on the left between #16 and #2. Hole #2 runs along the other side of that waste area so people get up on the tee and say, "I don't want to hit it down the right, there's all that sand," but left is actually quite a bit worse than right. Left has knee-high fescue, and on the approach everything slants left to right from 100 yards in, up to the green. Players will have no chance to hit that green so the ideal tee shot on this hole is just left of the tallest peak. The tallest peak is through the right center of the fairway, so players will want to aim just left of that. Shots that hit the center of the fairway feed a little down to the right portion of the fairway.
For the approach shot, I like having it played to the front left third of the green or left center. If they get it too far right, it is almost like a magnet, and will rush down into the bunkers. The bunkers to the right of the green are about 5 feet below the putting surface. What can make this hole really difficult is the back portion of the green, the back 40% of the green is only 12 paces wide.
On each side of the back portion of the green are bunkers. On the left they sit at 2 to 3 feet below the surface of the green, and on the right they sit about 5 feet below the surface. Imagine trying to get it up and down when the green is only 12 paces wide back there. Depending on if there is a southwest wind or not, players that will be hitting longer clubs into this green probably won't be able to go at a back pin placement. They will aim for the middle of the green and try for a two putt to the back portion.
When players finish playing #16, they will walk off the back of the green about 15 to 20 paces down to the back tee box for #17, which also runs north to south along the railroad tracks and the water. This hole plays right around 225 from the back edge and this green is unique. There are osprey, a lot of osprey here. It is a bird that nests down around Chambers Bay. If you look close enough you can see that this green was actually designed to look like an osprey.
The favored play is a ball whamming maybe 5 to 10 paces on the left center of the green. From there it will kind of filter the ball to the right, into the middle of the green. From there, you can putt to pretty much almost any pin.
If these guys land the ball too long or a little low on the cliff face, and they don't get enough spin, they could very easily see their ball go over the green and into the back fescue. If the pin is on the back right they're actually coming back to the green from that point, the green sits about 6 to 7 feet above them so it makes for a really difficult shot.
What makes this hole really difficult is a right pin. The right side of the green sits about 3 1/2 feet to 4 feet higher than the middle of the green and again, like 16, it is about 16 paces wide, but only about 11 of those paces are flat green. The whole right side of that green is a false side, and if players hit that false side they run down into a bunker, making for a difficult bunker shot right off the green. From the back edge of the green to the rough, what players get is ankle high fescue, and then the fescue is going to be probably up to their knees. There are about 20 paces, but the problem is that it runs away off the back of the green.
The green has a tier to the right and to the left. Looking at the green, the tier on the right is a little taller. There is a swale in the middle of the green, and then there is a smaller tier on the left side of the green. The front of the green sits a little bit lower than the middle, so there is no tier, it just slowly rises from the front edge.
The home hole is named after possibly the most iconic natural landmark in Washington State, Mt. Tahoma, which is the native name for Mt. Rainier. Hole #18 will play as a par-4 and a par-5 during the U.S. Open. If #1 plays as a par-5, #18 will play as a par-4, and if #1 plays as a par-4, #18 will play as a par-5. Here we go!
As a par four, I could see it playing around 520 yards, and as a par five, right around 600 yards. As a par five, players will be hitting drivers and three woods. First of all, this hole is pretty straight away, but there is a waste area just off the tee box running all the way up the right side for about 300 to 320 yards, depending on where they're teeing off. Then off to the left there are 2 big bunkers that actually reach into the fairway. The longer guys will be able to go for it in 2 from about 275 yards; and the shorter guys, when it plays as a par five will be looking to avoid a pot bunker, which is strategically placed. Basically, from the 100 to 120 yard range it is a cross bunker that is 13 feet deep.
So as a par-5, players are going to lay up short of the 13 foot deep bunker. Longer hitters might also try to lay up past the bunker. From the back edge of that bunker to the front edge of that last bunker on the left there is about 50 to 55 yards so there is some room to get a smaller wedge in there. Basically, from the very front of that bunker, there is 125 yards to the center of the green, so you have to lay it back to 130 to 140 yards to be safe. What a lot of players might try and do is actually take it over the cross bunker and stay short of the waste area down the right. They can actually get a little closer to the green this way, leaving a shot of 110 to 115 yards rather than playing up short of that deep bunker and leaving 135 yards. That is definitely an option a lot of guys might go for when #18 is playing as a par-5.
The thing about this bunker is that as you're standing back on the fairway, looking at a cross bunker on your right, you see a big waste area up there right and just short of the green. You see another bunker up there, left of the green as well, and then you see this hole in the ground that looks like a grass bunker. Well, a lot of people don't know that it's 13 feet deep and it's pretty much straight up and down. There are steps going down into this bunker. I've seen a couple players get on the green from this bunker before, but I think it was a miracle. Most guys are going to be hitting a bunker shot just trying to find a way to get out. You may see guys, if they get in the front of that bunker, they might actually have to hit backwards to get out.
This green on #12 is the wildest on the course, but the green on #18 is right behind it. There are different pockets and different tiers in this green, probably one, two, three, four, five different levels on this green.
The toughest two pin locations on this green are the front middle, and middle right. The front middle portion of the green is actually about 15 paces from the front right of the green. It's a little area, probably 12 feet by 8 feet, and if you land short, the ball can come 50 to 60 yards back down into the fairway. Players definitely don't want to be short on approaching that pin, if anything they want to be on the long side.
Middle right is the highest portion of the green, and it's not very big either, probably 8 paces wide by 12 paces long. When it gets firm and fast they will almost have to skip a shot into the third tier and let it release up onto it. A little bit long on the back tier is better because there they are only coming up about 3 to 4 feet of tier rather than 6 to 7 feet if they're on the front or middle of the green.