With just a week to get to Chambers Bay and get ready to play, golfers can count on a lot of help from the USGA.
Imagine for a second that you are one of about 60 players who qualify Monday for next week’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in University Place.
You’re ecstatic that you just played yourself into one of golf’s most prestigious events. But what happens next? How do you get there, where do you stay, can you bring your family to watch?
So many questions, and you’ve got to figure it out quickly because the practice rounds at Chambers Bay begin seven days after sectional qualifying, held at 10 spots around the United States.
Chambers Bay, June 18-21
The poll has expired. Thank you for your submissions.Actually, you don’t have much to figure out, other than the flight or drive to the Seattle-Tacoma area. Because Robbie Zalzneck, director of U.S. Open player services, and his staff have you covered.
At each of the 10 sectional sites, a representative will direct qualifiers and alternates to a website where players can get all of their questions answered. Players can also phone Zalzneck and his staff, and to make sure that no one accidentally gets left out, players also get emails on what will be done for them.
A place to stay? No problem. A room has been reserved at a nearby hotel at a price of about $200, with the possibility of getting an additional room at that price for family.
Transportation? Courtesy vehicles are being provided for each player. And each player gets up to 12 credentials for family to attend the Open.
No detail is left out.
“The locker room, merchandise, how to get in, parking, — everything’s covered,” said Zalzneck, who is also the director of the U.S. Amateur and manager of the U.S. Walker Cup team.
“A lot of them are excited to travel with family and friends, and have large parties. They want to know how can we help take care of them. We’ll provide extra shuttles from the airport for family if they’re coming in, either with the player or separately. Sometimes we’ll provide a car just to ship luggage to and from. Little things like that we’ll do.”
Zalzneck said that beginning Monday, there will be four staff members dedicated to working with qualifiers. But there are other tasks as well.
“Everything you can think of that has a player’s name on it, we only have five days to get it done,” he said. “We have to print everything from locker plates to player badges to caddie bib backs.”
Once the tournament week begins, Zalzneck said, there is a player-services office inside the player hospitality tent.
“We deal with players all the way throughout,” he said. “Sometimes they’ll need additional tickets, different transportation options — whatever they need, we’re here to help. We’ll even help with dinner reservations, anything they might ask. If we can make their lives easier, that’s what we try to do.”
Three spots at stake at Tumble Creek
A field of 50 players is scheduled to compete for three spots into the U.S. Open at sectional qualifying at Tumble Creek Club in Cle Elum. The majority of players at that 36-hole sectional have ties to the state of Washington.
There are nine other sectionals in the United States on Monday. Seattle native Fred Couples will try to qualify in Newport Beach, Calif.
Among the players with local connections in the Columbus, Ohio, sectional are Michael Putnam (who lives about a mile from Chambers Bay), Gig Harbor’s Kyle Stanley, former UW star Nick Taylor and amateur Corey Pereira, who just finished his sophomore season at the University of Washington.
Also competing in Columbus are Olympia’s Andres Gonzales and Derek Barron of Tacoma, who won the Oregon Open last year, and Kevin Chappell, who owns a home in Kirkland.
Andrew Putnam from University Place is playing in Memphis, as is former Husky Alex Prugh. Former Huskies Trevor Simsby and Joel Dahmen are in Dallas.
Mickelson praises Chambers Bay
Phil Mickelson, who practiced at Chambers Bay a couple of weeks ago, had praise for the course while playing this past week at the Memorial. According to a Golf Channel story, Mickelson said, “I really like it. I think it’s wonderful. The first time you play it, it’s like St. Andrews. You don’t know where to go. You don’t know what mounds do to the ball. … I can see why the first impression isn’t as favorable for some. But I think the more you play it, the more you like it.”