To each his perch. That’s the watchword at Chambers Bay, as U.S. Open spectators discover it’s impossible to pick a favorite group and walk alongside — due to areas the USGA has roped off as hazardous.
UNIVERSITY PLACE — Terry deJager of Whidbey Island isn’t a bad guy, but he did confess a certain enjoyment Saturday in watching the fourth hole at Chambers Bay golf course “eat people alive.”
Leaning against a fence on the east rim of the golf course, deJager and his wife, Cheryl, had a helicopter-style view of the uphill par-4 monster with its tabletop-hard green protected by enough sand to stock a small desert.
With binoculars, the couple also could watch action on the fifth hole, where a diabolical bunker abutting the front of the green swallowed more than its share of golf balls.
To each his perch. That’s the watchword at Chambers Bay, as U.S. Open spectators discover it’s impossible to pick a favorite group and walk alongside — due to areas the United States Golf Association (USGA) has roped off as hazardous.
The USGA has been advising fans to pick a spot in a grandstand and let the action come to them.
In places, fans have to make decisions: Do they want to see a tee or a green? Are they willing to plant themselves at one of the later holes and wait for hours for the first sign of a golfer? Do they join the line outside a filled grandstand in case some seats open up?
DeJager said the fence line above the fourth hole has a lot going for it when it comes to the view.
“The view is spectacular even if there wasn’t a golf tournament going on,” said deJager, 63, who once owned a nine-hole course in Minnesota.
As much as the deJagers enjoyed their fourth-hole perch, their plan was to move to the 6,000-seat grandstand at the 18th hole as the day progressed, to see some of the top players finish their rounds.
That’s where Matthew Elkins, 41, of Shelton and his dad, 73-year-old Luckey, of Stanwood, already had taken up residence, an hour and a half before the first golfers came their way — and many more hours before the leaders would arrive.
Before taking seats at the 18th, they had looked around the first and second holes for good vantage points, but the prime real estate already was taken.
Grandstand seats are first come, first served.
“We’ll just wait — and see how long we last,” said Luckey Elkins, hoping he and his son could handle the marathon session with a secret weapon: seat cushions they bought the day before.
Eric Gamache, 42, of Spokane found a spot on a grassy hillside behind the 17th tee from which he and his 13-year-old son could see both the tee and green on the par-3 hole.
“This is better than to try to walk from hole to hole,” he said.
The 17th hole, alongside Puget Sound just above the railroad tracks, offers one of the best vistas on the course.
“It’s great to have something like this in our own backyard,” Gamache said. “I can’t wait to come back with my son and play it.”
The greatest choice of perches, naturally, goes to the earliest fans on the course. On Sunday, the main shuttle-bus lots open at 5:30 a.m., with buses starting at 6 a.m. At the course, gates to the property will open at 6 a.m., but the course won’t open until 7 a.m.
If Sunday’s round ends in a tie, a playoff would be held at noon Monday.