The question has persisted for years: Will the U.S. Open return to Chambers Bay in University Place?
The answer will likely be partly dependent on what happens when the links course hosts the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship from May 22-26, the first time it has hosted a USGA championship since the 2015 U.S. Open.
That tournament’s legacy was a dramatic finish — Jordan Spieth winning when Dustin Johnson missed a four-foot putt — and bumpy greens that drew the players’ ire.
A couple of years later, the decision was made to replace the fine fescue greens that got so much criticism with native poa grass. The course was closed for several months, beginning in the fall of 2018.
The course was scheduled to host the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball in 2019, but that men’s event was postponed until 2021. And here we are.
“We are excited,” said Chambers Bay general manager Zac Keener. “We’ve been talking about another USGA championship for long enough. Now that the homestretch is here, we’re just getting everything right into that championship shape and form that we know and want.”
Keener is aware of what is at stake.
Last year, John Bodenhamer, the Lakewood native who is senior managing director for the USGA and oversees the U.S. Open, said this: “Our focus is on the Four-Ball. If we have a successful one, we can have discussions about the future.”
“This is a great championship, and it’s fun, but for us it has a little more meaning,” Keener said. “We want the Four-Ball, but we also want what is next. It’s a big stage for us and the USGA understands that too. They’ve got a good eye on us and they’ve been a good partner in getting everything where we want it.”
What is next could be a U.S. Women’s Open. The next possible opening is 2025.
Future U.S. Open sites on the men’s side have been picked through 2027.
But the focus now is squarely on next week’s event, which will not be open to spectators. It begins with two days of stroke play (May 22-23) at Chambers Bay and at The Home Course in DuPont. The top 32 teams will begin single-elimination match play at Chambers Bay on May 24. The championship match will be May 26.
Teams of two compete in the event, with each member playing his own ball. The best score of the two players is the team’s score on each hole. For example, if one player shoots a 5 on a hole and the other player scores a 3, the team gets a 3.
Keener said the greens will likely play a little bit faster than the fine fescue greens did in the 2015 U.S. Open, and “we’re all about consistency and firmness.”
“We’re trying to be the best stewards of this championship and not get too far ahead of us,” Keener said. “But also, in the background, know what we want the big goal to be.”
Chambers Bay will get another chance to showcase the course when it hosts the prestigious Pacific Coast Amateur, July 20-23.
Huskies hosting NCAA regional next week
The Washington men’s golf team is the No. 7 seed in the 14-team NCAA regional at Tumble Creek Golf Club in Cle Elum.
The top five teams from the three-day event that will be played Monday through Wednesday will advance to the NCAA championships that are May 28-June 2 at Greyhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Wake Forest is the No. 1 seed at the Cle Elum regional. Pepperdine, which features former Bellarmine Prep of Tacoma players Joe Highsmith and RJ Manke, is the No. 2 seed.
The Huskies have finished no worse than fourth in their past six tournaments, and most of the players know Tumble Creek very well, which should be an advantage.
“Regionals is the most exciting tournament to play in, certainly to coach in because of what’s at stake, and it’s a tournament where it’s better to play on a course you know, so we are nothing but fired up,” UW coach Alan Murray said in a release.
Spectators are allowed but masks must be worn, and they must stay on the cart paths.