The U.S. Open – It Is Coming Like a Freight Train

By Larry Gilhuly, director, Northwest Region
November 28, 2012

2015 may be several years away, but for one golf course in the Northwest Region it feels like it is just around the corner. Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash., will become the first in the Pacific Northwest to host the U.S. Open. To ready the course there have been numerous changes since the completion of the 2010 U.S. Amateur. The combined efforts of the USGA, Pierce County, Kemper Sports and the architectural firm of Robert Trent Jones II are finally reaching the completion of on-course renovations. And what renovations they are! Here is a sneak peek at the final three projects being completed by the end of this month.

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Like a freight train, the 2015 U.S. Open is right around the corner for Chambers Bay.

Tee No. 1 – The first hole is normally a par 4 that was lengthened for the 2010 U. S. Amateur to over 500 yards. However, this hole played relatively short (hard to believe!) due to a downhill ridge in the fairway that catapulted balls forward when players reached it in the air from the tee. To add variety to the course, a new tee was added to stretch the hole into a highly versatile par-5 measuring 550 to 585 yards. Under the skill of shaper Mr. Ed Tanno this new tee will no longer allow players to reach this springboard fairway ridge with their tee shots and now brings a very large bunker into play on the hole’s right side for players in the U.S. Open. And don’t be surprised if the par for the course changes during the competition!

Tee No. 9 – During the U.S. Amateur this highly elevated par-3 resulted in a large portion of the green being unused. To address this issue and completely change the hole’s angle and play while improving spectator and player flow, a new tee complex was added near the current practice tee. This new angle provides a hole ranging from 185 to 225 yards that plays slightly uphill! Consider that the hole plays into prevailing winds and the green contains multiple large mounds, accuracy from the tee will be at a premium for this formidable par-3.

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 View of newly added tee on hole No. 9.

Hole No. 8 Green/Approach – During and after the 2010 U.S. Amateur, virtually every ball hit short of green No. 8 ended up on the right side. The problem became so bad that balls were rolling off the playing surface onto a severe bank and adjoining path. Since the slope on the left was so severe and most golf balls were rolling over the bank into a 25-yard wide area, the earthwork process of moving soil from the left to the right side of the hole has begun. As was done earlier this year on holes Nos. 1, 7 and 13, needed changes will result in a far more playable fescue surface.

As a final comment on the preparation for the 2015 U.S. Open, fescue turf conditions have dramatically improved through the year despite the ongoing advancement of Poa annua onto the putting surfaces. A trial using methiozolin is currently being conducted on the practice green with very positive results reported by Mr. Josh Lewis, golf course superintendent.

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Based on his observations, all Poa annua plants in the trial showed severe decline beginning with the plant’s crown (or growing point) and moving outward (see photo), rather than from new leaves moving inward. The results from three applications spaced two weeks apart starting in October have been very positive with no discoloration viewed on the fescue at the normal 0.6 oz. per 1,000 square feet rate. The double rate resulted in minor fescue discoloration with the same results on Poa annua as the normal rate. Stay tuned for more on this topic in the future.

Larry Gilhuly and Derf Soller are available to visit your golf course, but they won’t run over you like a freight train! For information concerning the Turf Advisory Service contact Larry at or Derf at


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