|Chambers Bay might be just five years old, but the hype is legit. (Chambers Bay)|
There is land in this world that was made for a golf course to be built on. Pebble Beach is a perfect example. So is Bandon Dunes. I'd add Kingsbarns just outside of St. Andrews to that list, with the rolling hills along a beautiful coast line.
But most of these picture-perfect golf destinations never started out as a sand-and-gravel quarry.
Introduce Chambers Bay, site of the 2010 U.S. Amateur and upcoming host of the 2015 U.S. Open, a 250 acre golf course that borders the Puget Sound just outside of Tacoma, Wash. It's a championship golf course that almost appeared out of thin air, opening in 2007 and already landing two of the most prestigious golf events in the United States.
It is a municipal golf course to top all municipal golf courses, the type of place that once you show up and look down from the clubhouse high atop the 18 wonderful holes, makes you jealous of anyone that lives within 45 minutes from this gem.
A week ago, I showed up with little to no knowledge of Chambers Bay. I just knew I was teeing it up in the morning of an unpredictable spring day in Washington, the kind of day you almost wish to have at a links golf course, as a place that is long and windy.
My initial impression was awe. The clubhouse sits atop a hill that looks down on all 18 holes, and gives you exactly the type of view you need when checking out a hyped place for the first time. Sure, Chambers Bay was on television for most of that Amateur two years back, but like the undulation at Augusta National, you need to see it to really believe it. The golf course is absolutely incredible and for so many reasons, but the thing I took from it after finishing my round is that it almost seemed like a different designer made each and every hole.
Credit there obviously goes to Robert Trent Jones, Jr., who really seemed to let his imagination wonder on the 7,585 yard layout. The first hole runs alongside No. 10, but neither are anything like the other. You play a 304-yard par-4 and a 521-yard par-4 on the back in near succession, and maybe the most creative and exciting hole comes on the signature 16th, where the USGA will have the opportunity to move the tee around as they see fit and allow players to hit just about anything from 4-irons to drivers on the winding hole along the water.
Maybe the most amazing thing about Chambers, more than the views or the layout or the breakfast sandwiches (seriously, get one before the first tee) is the fact that the course is so young, but doesn't play it. Currently, the USGA is adding their touches to a couple of greens, but for the most part, the golf course seems aged and ready. The greens look very links-y, but roll true and handle golf shots the way you'd never expect from such a new golf course, and the bunkers and such are as consistent as you'd find at any top-notch course in the area (the best and worst bunker on the course? The one in the lay-up area on the 18th, that I unfortunately found as this picture shows).
There are plenty of golf venues people visit that can underwhelm. Like a book converted to a movie, you have an idea of golf destinations in your head and they either meet your imagination or fall short. Chambers Bay is definitely the former. It's a beautiful golf course that is open for anyone to play, and should be on your short list of courses in the northwest you must stop by and tee it up, even if you don't have much time for another 18.
(Oh, and don't forget about that breakfast sandwich. Trust me on this.)