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

What It Was Like On The Field For Apple Cup 2012

It doesn’t get any bigger than the Apple Cup when it comes to college football in the state of Washington. It’s the University of Washington against Washington State University. It’s tradition. It’s pride. It’s a rivalry at its finest. Let’s be honest — it means everything to the Cougars and Huskies.

Apple Cup 2012 | Credential

My Apple Cup credential

I was on the field for Apple Cup 2012 in Pullman. I graduated from Washington State and I’ve covered the Cougars for my entire broadcasting career, but I worked especially close with WSU for more than five years while I was in Spokane. Now that I’m working in Seattle, I was on the other side of the coverage. My focus was more on the Huskies this season (although both teams were still a priority).

Apple Cup 2012 wasn’t much of a matchup on paper. The Huskies were 7-4 on the season, riding a four-game winning streak, while the Cougars were 2-9, losers of eight in a row. That’s why Washington was considered a 14-point favorite this time around. It was one of the largest spreads in the history of the rivalry.

The rivalry started slowly. WSU led the game 3-0 after the first quarter, but both teams added a touchdown in the second. Keith Price gave Washington its first advantage on an 11-yard pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and then Carl Winston handed the Cougars a 10-7 halftime lead with a 1-yard touchdown dive.

Washington State was prone to massive let downs throughout 2012, and it happened again in the third quarter of the Apple Cup. Washington scored 21 unanswered points to take a 28-10 lead heading into the fourth. Bishop Sankey, who originally committed to WSU and then changed his mind to go to UW, scored two touchdowns in the quarter. On his final score, Sankey accidentally crashed into a photographer on the sideline (click here to watch the hit). The cameraman slammed backward to the ground and was clearly shaken up by the hit. When the photographer sat up, you could see a huge gash over his left eye. Blood started pouring down his face, so he was quickly surrounded by police officers on the field. They called for medical help, but no one gave him anything to stop the bleeding. I’m guessing it was a liability issue or something, but it was really strange that no one was helping right away. It wasn’t like the guy was going to bleed to death, but it was a significant wound. Since the officers weren’t doing anything, FOX sideline reporter Petros Papadakis finally gave the guy a towel to help stop the bleeding.

Jeff Tuel Apple Cup 2012

Jeff Tuel honored on Senior Day before the Apple Cup

After Sankey scored the touchdown to make it 28-10, I honestly thought to myself, “Here we go again.” As a Cougar fan, I’ve watched the team squander game after game in 2012. I started planning on my live reports to focus on the Huskies fourth straight win the Apple Cup, but this game was far from over.

Right before the Cougars started to rally, I realized that I forgot an earpiece I needed in the car (which was parked a good ways from the stadium). Since the game was going to lead right up to our newscasts, I needed to get the earpiece as soon as possible. I watched Carl Winston score from 2-yards out to make it 28-17, and then jolted to the car. As I was walking up the stairs at Martin Stadium, I thought to myself that this might be the start of huge comeback and I better hurry. I got my earpiece, and quickly started back to the field. Right before I got to the stadium, I heard the cannons fire to signal another WSU touchdown. Winston scored again, but it was under review. I made to the field in time for them to confirm the touchdown, and watch the Cougars convert a two-pointer to make it a 28-25 ballgame.

Apple Cup 2012 would come down to the kickers. With a little less than two minutes remaining in the game, Washington State’s Andrew Furney drilled a 45-yard field goal to make it 28-28, capping the Cougars largest fourth quarter comeback since 1985. It wasn’t nearly over though. Washington marched back down the field and set up Travis Coons for the game-winning 35-yard field goal with five seconds left in the game, but he missed. There was a strong, cold breeze blowing through Martin Stadium, and I remember seeing Coons’ kick hang up in the air and eventually fall wide right. This Apple Cup was heading to overtime.

Washington got the ball first in the bonus frame, and quickly gave possession to Washington State. On the very first play of OT, Keith price tried to make something happen when he shouldn’t have, and his pass was picked off by WSU’s Toni Pole. The big defensive lineman (he’s listed at 277 pounds) almost returned the interception for the game-winning touchdown, but he was stopped by a hustling Cody Bruns on the five yard line.

Apple Cup 2012 Mike Leach Trophy Presentation

Mike Leach hoists the Apple Cup trophy

The Cougars didn’t waste any time once they got the rock. Jeff Tuel completed a pair of passes to get Washington State to the ten yard line, and on first down the Cougars sent out their kicker. Furney easily drilled the 27-yard field goal, sending Washington State to a 31-28 victory (NOTE: I predicted a 31-27 Washington State win a week earlier — I have written proof and everything). The kick also sent fans storming onto the field to celebrate their first Apple Cup win since 2008. These weren’t just college kids who rushed the field either. I saw children, grandparents — everyone.

I talked to several Cougars on the field after the Apple Cup. Cornerback Nolan Washington was at a loss for words to describe how he was feeling and Carl Winston said it was a game he’ll remember for the rest of his life. On the other side, Washington usually has a 24-hour rule to move on from a game, but head coach Steve Sarkisian admitted that this Apple Cup loss would probably take a few days to get over.

The 2012 college football season is still going, but how can you not be looking forward to Apple Cup 2013? I know I am!

Did you watch the Apple Cup this year? What did you think of the game? I would love to hear from you! Leave a message below, or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out http://allaroundtim.com for more on sports, music and travel!

VIDEO | Austin Rehkow Kicks 67-Yard Field Goal

I spent more than five years covering sports in Spokane before I was hired at KOMO-TV in Seattle. There’s nothing bigger than Gonzaga basketball or Washington State football in the Inland Northwest, but high school sports are a close third on the list. I saw a lot of crazy plays during prep football games in Spokane, but I never covered anything as remarkable as this. Central Valley High School kicker Austin Rehkow drilled an unbelievable 67-yard field goal to force overtime last night against Shadle Park High School.

With just :02 remaining in the game at Joe Albi Stadium, Rehkow (pronounced like Rico) lined up the 67-yard field goal. Before I saw the highlight, I thought for sure he had the benefit of using a tee (which is allowed in high school football in Washington — or at least it used to be), but he didn’t. Rehkow made the 67-yard field goal look as routine as a 30-yard field goal. I thought it was amazing. His kick tied the game at 55, sending the contest to overtime. Central Valley then beat Shadle Park 62-55 in the bonus frame.

Take a look at this kick!

The 67-yard field goal broke the Washington state record and is now tied for the second longest field goal in high school football history (the longest is 68-yards set in 1985 by Dick Borgognone in Reno, Nevada). The 67-yard field goal is also four yards longer than the NFL record of 63-yards set by Tom Dempsey and then tied by Sebastian Janikowski, Jason Elam and David Akers. The longest verified field goal ever made is a 69-yarder by Abilene Christian University kicker Ove Johansson in 1976.

Believe it or not, Austin Rehkow reportedly only has a partial scholarship offer from Eastern Washington University, but that’s it. That means no Division-I schools have come knocking on Rehkow’s door. After being featured on Good Morning America, SportsCenter and several others for his field goal, I’m sure Rehkow is getting a few phone calls from coaches today.

I covered Austin Rehkow when I was working in Spokane. He made our football highlights a few times, but not just for his field goals. Rehkow also doubles as a wide receiver for Central Valley (he caught a touchdown pass in last night’s game as well). I honestly remember Rehkow more for his skills on the basketball court though. Rehkow led the Bears to a the 4A state championship game last season, averaging a team-high 12.4 points per game on the year. In other words, the kid is a natural athlete. If someone was going to kick a 67-yard field goal in Spokane, I would have guessed that it would be Austin Rehkow (even though I would have sounded like an idiot predicting something like that).

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Austin Rehkow Kicks 67-Yard Field Goal

Austin Rehkow right before his 67-yard field goal


Myles Jack | UCLA Football Commit Stars At Bellevue

Bellevue (Wash.) High School running back/linebacker Myles Jack is made for football. It starts with his name (how can it get any more perfect than that?), carries over to his build (he’s listed as 6’3″ 235 lbs.) and then finishes with his ability. Not only does Myles Jack look different than everyone else on the field; he plays different than everyone else too. That’s why the senior received scholarship offers from all over the country — finally committing to UCLA this summer.

Myles Jack Bellevue High UCLA Football

Myles Jack

I’ve had two chances to watch Myles Jack this year, and the kid has impressed me both times. My first glimpse of Jack came in a game against 4A Bothell (Bellevue is a 3A school) earlier in the season. I’m new to the Seattle area, so I didn’t know much about Myles before the game started. I quickly learned that he was the player to watch. Jack laid one of the biggest hits I’ve seen this year when he drilled Bothell quarterback Ross Bowers. The ball popped out of Bowers’ hands for a fumble, which was then scooped up by Bellevue for a touchdown.

The second time I saw Myles Jack was just last week against Mt. Si. It was a clash between the No. 1 (Bellevue — winners of 33 straight games now — ranked as one of the top teams in the country) and No. 2 (Mt. Si) 3A teams in the state, and Jack dominated from beginning to end. He capped Bellevue’s opening drive with a 19-yard touchdown run and then added what I’m calling the ‘run of the year’ in the second quarter. Jack took the handoff, jolted to his left, but quickly ran into trouble. He was able to stiff-arm his way past a couple of defenders, but then he was wrapped up and taken toward the ground. Jack never touched the turf though, instead he rolled over the defender (who wound up underneath him) and hopped right back on his feet. Jack immediately had to fend off another Mt. Si player before he cut back toward the middle of the field for an amazing 78-yard touchdown. I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s the most impressive run I’ve ever seen at the high school level.

Myles Jack | Future UCLA Football Star

Myles Jack playing defense

As impressive as he is on offense, Myles Jack is a beast on defense as well. I already talked about his big hit against Bothell, but that’s just the beginning. Jack, who is listed as an outside linebacker, plays as a down lineman most of the time. It’s that new hybrid position — looking more like a defensive end than a linebacker. No matter how he’s lined up, Jack has no trouble getting to the quarterback (unless he’s triple teamed like he often was last week). I don’t think he registered a sack in the game against Mt. Si, but he hurried the quarterback several times. Jack’s most impressive defensive play happened in the second half: the Mt. Si quarterback rolled to his left, Jack caught up with the QB as he threw the ball, and with one arm (yes, just one arm) Jack forcefully tossed the quarterback to the ground (the QB slid across the wet grass like he was pushed over by a bulldozer).

While Myles Jack is a monster on the football field, he seems like a nice kid off it. He called me ‘sir’ probably ten times in our five-minute postgame conversation. I also talked to one of Bellevue’s assistant coaches about Jack and he told me no one can say a bad thing about the guy, saying he’s an all-around good kid.

According to Scout.com, Myles Jack is ranked as one of the best outside linebackers in the country (rated No. 17), while Rivals.com lists him as the third best prospect in Washington (behind Skyline quarterback Max Browne (committed to USC) and his Bellevue teammate Sean Constantine (committed to Washington)). Jack received scholarship offers from Purdue, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State and pretty much everyone from the Pac-12. The assistant coach told me it wasn’t an easy decision for Jack, but he verbally committed to UCLA in June.

A polite kid with a world of talent — it’s hard to not root for Myles Jack. He still has a state championship on his mind this season, but it’s on to national championship dreams at UCLA after that. It’ll be fun to see how his career plays out with the Bruins.

Have you ever seen Myles Jack in action? What do you think of him? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a message below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out http://allaroundtim.com for more great sports coverage!