What It’s Like To Play Chambers Bay Golf Course

I’ve said this once, and you’ll hear me say it again and again — I have the greatest job in the world. I cover sports for a living. I talk about them, I watch them and every now and then I get to play them — like yesterday. I was paid to play golf, and not just on a typical course. I was paid to play Chambers Bay Golf Course — home of the 2015 U.S. Open.

Chambers Bay Golf Course

Chambers Bay Golf Course

Chambers Bay Golf Course, which is located in University Place, Washington, is expensive (at least in my eyes). Greens fees cost anywhere from $119 (non-county resident sunset rate from June-September) to $219 (non-Washington resident rate from June-September). That means not everyone can afford play Chambers Bay. If you can’t make it out there, or even if you can (you’re planning a trip, etc.), I’m here to tell you what it’s like to play Chambers Bay Golf Course.

I had never even seen the Chambers Bay grounds before, so this was an entirely new experience for me. The clubhouse sits on top of a hill, so you have an opportunity to look out on the entire course when you first arrive. At first glance, I asked myself, “This is a golf course?!” Chambers Bay is designed (by Robert Trent Jones II) like a traditional Scottish links course. That means there are no trees (there’s actually one tree on the course, but it doesn’t come into play), it’s just a rolling mess of grass, dunes and sand. One of the guys I played with described it as “the surface of the moon.”

Chambers Bay Golf Course doesn’t just look different, it also plays different. Even though I’ve been to Scotland, I didn’t play golf there. That means Chambers Bay is unlike any course I’ve ever played before. There aren’t traditional golf hazards, like water and trees, but there is trouble everywhere at Chambers Bay. Precision is the name of the game there. A foot the wrong way and you’ll end up in the sand (or waste areas). A few inches too long and you’ll be in thick fescue. You need to be spot on with every shot or your round can quickly unravel.

Chambers Bay Golf Course

Looking up the No. 7 fairway toward the green

There’s another thing you need to know about Chambers Bay Golf Course — it’s long (7,165 yards from the blue tees), firm and fast. I was talking to a caddy before the round, and he told me that I need to take 10 to 15 yards off every shot because the ball rolls, and rolls, and rolls once it hits the ground. When the 2015 U.S. Open comes to town, they’re actually going to have a 520-yard, par-4 (no joke). An employee of the USGA explained to me that yardage at Chambers Bay doesn’t mean the same thing as other courses. That’s because Chambers Bay is so firm and so fast. The distance can also be deceiving when you’re out there playing at Chambers Bay. There’s nothing to obstruct your view, so it looks like every hole is 500-yards away.

NOTE: There are no golf carts allowed (unless you need one for health reasons, etc), so you have to walk Chambers Bay Golf Course. That doesn’t matter to me, because I’m young enough and healthy enough to trek 18 holes. With that said, Chambers Bay still isn’t an easy walk. The hazards are the hills and dunes, so you feel like you’re constantly walking up and down hills. They give you a push cart as part of your greens fees, and that definitely helps. But, just keep that in mind if you’re planning a trip to Chambers Bay. Your body needs to be golf ready.

Since you can’t always tell the difference between the fairway and the greens (again, this is a traditional links course), that means putting is a challenge at Chambers Bay as well. That firm and fast description doesn’t end on the fairways. It goes for the greens, too. And, the hills don’t stop rolling on the greens either. I think I lined up three straight putts my entire round yesterday. The greens sometimes feel as wavy as the Puget Sound you’re playing next to. One of the guys I was playing with said it was like “putting on a frozen lake.”

NOTE: If you’re looking for a pristine, green golf course, Chambers Bay is not for you. The grass dries out and turns pretty darn brown. If I didn’t know Chambers Bay was a championship level course, I would think it was a poorly maintained public golf course. But, that’s far from the truth. The crew at Chambers Bay puts in tons of work — that’s just the way the course is supposed to be.

Chambers Bay Golf Course

Chambers Bay Golf Course

While the course might not be much to look at, the views are top-notch at Chambers Bay Golf Course. Like I mentioned, you play alongside the beautiful Puget Sound. When you’re up on the course, it feels like you can see for miles. We were out there on a perfect day (80 degrees and sunny), so the weather wasn’t a factor. But, the wind off the sound can make Chambers Bay play much different than it did for us. Rain is always a possibility in the Puget Sound area as well.

When I was on the course (probably on hole No. 13), I mentioned to one of the guys I was playing with that I liked the front nine better than the back nine at Chambers Bay. He had played out there before, and he quickly said, “Just wait. The back nine gets even better.” It was so true. I jotted notes when I was playing out there, and I didn’t realize it at the time, but all four of the holes I listed as my favorites (No. 10, No. 15, No. 16 and No. 18 – I could probably throw No. 17 in there as well) were on the back nine. In other words, I didn’t think there were any bad holes on the course.

Danny Sink, the director of the 2015 U.S. Open, explained to me that the USGA wants to make the open “golf’s toughest test.” That doesn’t mean they want to penalize golfers for good shots, but they want to test them mentally and physically, and they want to challenge their shot-making skills. They picked Chambers Bay to do that, and I think that says a lot about the golf course. It’s meant to test the best golfers in the world, so it definitely cause problems for an average weekend hacker. I know first-hand how difficult the course is.

I hope this did a good job of summing up what it’s like to play at Chambers Bay. I could have written ten more paragraphs, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you with information. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have, or feel free to leave a comment below. You can always connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out All Around Tim for more on the world of sports, music and food!

Chambers Bay Golf Course

A view of Chambers Bay from the clubhouse area

You’re Never Too Old For The Zoo

I’ve determined that you’re never too old to enjoy the zoo. In fact, I think you appreciate the zoo even more when you’re an adult compared to when you’re a kid. You think it’s normal to see wild animals up close and personal when you’re young, but as you grow older you realize how rare it is to catch a glimpse of these beasts in person.

I have a couple of examples to back up my theory: I was at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle a few weeks ago, and I heard a little boy tell his parents that he wanted to go home because “this place is dull.” Not long after that I took my nephew to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma. He would get excited about the animals at first, but then often lost interest after a few seconds. On the other hand, I stared, and stared, and stared in awe at the creatures for several minutes at a time. That might mean that I’m a dork — or a terrible uncle — but I can’t help it. I love the zoo!

Here are some of the pictures I snapped on my recent adventures to the Woodland Park Zoo and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. I posted these on Instagram — be sure to follow me @AllAroundTim!

BUDGIE

Budgie Buddies Tacoma Point Defiance Zoo

ELEPHANTS

Elephant Pt Defiance Zoo Tacoma

Elephant Seattle Zoo Woodland Park

GIRAFFE

Giraffe Seattle Zoo Woodland Park

GRIZZLY BEAR

Grizzly Bear Seattle Zoo Woodland Park

LEMURS

Cuddling Lemurs Pt Defiance Zoo Tacoma

LEOPARD

Leopard Seattle Zoo Woodland Park

MEERKATS

Meerkats Zoo In Tacoma | Pt Defiance

POISON DART FROGS

Poison Dart Frogs Woodland Park Zoo Seattle

POLAR BEAR

Polar Bear Pt Defiance Zoo Tacoma

SHARK

Shark Point Defiance Aquarium Tacoma

How often can you get right next to a grizzly bear, leopard and shark all in one place? Nowhere — except for a zoo (and aquarium). I think it would be incredible to see all of these animals in the wild (and some of them I have), but in most cases that takes lots of money and really good timing — many of these animals are endangered; that’s why they’re in a zoo.

This world is filled with amazing creatures — don’t miss them! Young or old, the zoo is the best place to soak the entire animal kingdom in.

Do you love the zoo or can you go without? What’s your favorite animal at the zoo? I would love to hear from you! Leave a message below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+. You can also find me on YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn. In other words, there’s no reason not to reach out!