Summer 2018

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Like San Francisco, Seattle belongs to the sea; around every corner, there is a view of the water. Its streets and its skyscrapers cling to hillsides. It looks to the Orient, and it is obsessed by food and wine. Golf isn't quite the cup of tea—or should I say coffee— that it is in Northern California. Just when you thought the city of Starbucks, Amazon and Microsoft fame couldn't get any more enticing, this eclectic city manages to crank things up another notch with the addition of a neighboring major-championship caliber course in University Place. When golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. concluded his presentation to city officials to design a municipal course there, his design associate Jay Blasi handed out bag tags with the course's working title, Chambers Creek, a logo, and their best-case scenario of hosting the 2030 U.S. Open. Not long before Jordan Spieth won the 115th U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in 2015, John Ladenburg, the visionary Pierce County executive behind the project, joked to Blasi, "you only missed on the name, the logo and the year." Carved from a former sand and gravel mine to become one of the country's most acclaimed public courses—ranked No. 44 in Golfweek's Best Modern Courses list and second among municipal tracks—the making of Chambers Bay is a story unto itself. Jones looked at a beautiful canvas of heaving sand hills and knew he was blessed with something special. To a site brimming with raw natural ingredients, he added his own inimitable artistry. Prepare to be swept away by 360 degrees of beauty – from vistas of Puget Sound to a glimpse of majestic Mount Rainier. It is all in view—at least when the weather cooperates—at a layout that plays fast and firm and requires skill and imagination for those who traverse its fescue fairways and try to avoid its deep pot bunkers. There is just one tree on this waterfront property, a Douglas Fir behind the 15th green. In other words, nothing is concealed on this walking-only course – except the challenge. Chambers Bay was designed to challenge the great- est players in the world. Yet it is a course that anyone can enjoy. I played it on a day of glorious sunshine. When the skies clear, Seattleites rejoice that "the mountain is out" and head for the country. To single out a hole for praise seems unfair to the others, but for me, the 18th presented a thrilling climax when I busted my tee shot a few feet from a plaque commemorating Spieth's hybrid that set up his winning birdie. I creamed a 3-wood that cleared the deep bunker in the middle of the fairway named The Chambers Basement, which even Indiana Jones would have trouble escaping. (Golfers descend nine steps to get to the bottom of it.) I still came up short of the green, but eventually I pitched on and 2-putted from roughly the same 12 feet where Dustin Johnson didn't and lost his national championship by a single stroke. Try it for yourself; it's 54 SUMMER 2018 | NCGA.ORG I blame my college girlfriend. One trip to her hometown of Seattle; one trip to the San Juan Islands where we sailed among the Orca whales and climbed snow-capped Mount Rainier in the same weekend; and one trip to Pike Place Market, that zesty souk that is the heart and soul of the city, notable as much for the merchants hurling fish shelves to scales as the quality of its fare: Dungeness crabs and Olympia oysters, Rainier cherries and Walla Walla onions; in reality, one trip and I was smitten with all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Chambers Bay (top) ranks among the Top 100 courses in the U.S., and No. 2 among municipal courses, according to Golfweek.The Home Course in Dupont, Wash., offers stunning vistas of Mount Rainier. USGA

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