Chambers Bay — a rugged, almost burnt-out stretch along Puget Sound with one tree and no resemblance to the rest of Western Washington — is a new experience for most of these players.

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UNIVERSITY PLACE — No one was officially counting heads, but the dividing line seemed to be split close to right down the middle.

Half the field at the U.S. Open is looking forward to a week playing Chambers Bay. The other half, not so much.

Chambers Bay — a rugged, almost burnt-out stretch along Puget Sound with one tree and no resemblance to the rest of Western Washington — is a new experience for most of these players.


Tuesday at Chambers Bay: Partly sunny, high of 72 degrees, with a 10 mph wind from the NNE

J.B. Holmes, the 13th-ranked player in the world, played it for the first time Monday.

“It’s different, for sure,” he said, trying to be as politically correct as possible.

“It looks like a British Open, but the green complexes are different, for sure,” he said. “Most players won’t like it.”

Holmes officially can’t be counted in that group. He saw more to like on the links course than to dislike.

“I like it. It will be fun and challenging,” he said. “Overall impressions … I would guess most people would not be happy with it.”

Morgan Hoffmann, ranked 94th in the world, has heard the same thing.

“I think more than 50 percent are going to hate it; that’s what I’ve heard already,” Hoffmann said. “It’s just an advantage for me.”

One of many advantages for Hoffmann is he played Chambers Bay in much tougher conditions than this week’s when he made it to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur in 2010 before losing to eventual winner Peter Uihlein.

“I love this course,” Hoffmann said, much more convincingly than Holmes.

“I just like that you have to be creative and there are so many shots around the green you can play. And there’s not just one way to play it,” he said. “There are 50 ways to do it.”

During that U.S. Amateur five years ago, it was evident that as the week went on, the players became more appreciative of the course and its uniqueness.

When Holmes was asked how he might like Chambers Bay after playing it all week, he again went politically correct.

“Hmmm … ask that question in seven days. We’ll see.”

Somebody who declined to comment was Ian Poulter, who started a social-media firestorm six weeks ago when he tweeted he heard others were saying Chambers Bay was a “farce.”

Robert Trent Jones Jr., the course architect, is listening to the comments from players and is taking it in stride.

“Those who are uneasy with the newness of it, we’ll listen to them, but they probably won’t make the cut,” he said Monday.

A more detailed debate of Chambers Bay, and all its humps and bumps, brings in the question of what is skill and what is luck.

“There are so many areas it doesn’t really matter where you hit it,” Holmes said. “It takes a little of the skill out of it because you can hit it almost anywhere and it’s going to end up in the same area. A lot of it is kind of lucky bounces and stuff like that, and you have to guess what it’s going to do.”

Hoffmann doesn’t buy into the lucky-bounces notion.

“I think it’s a strategy course,” he said. “I think plotting your way around from your tee shot is very key.”

Jordan Spieth, the Masters champion ranked No. 2 in the world, thinks it’s going to be a lot of fun, particularly the par-3 ninth hole.

“I think it’s one of the cooler holes that we’ll play all year,” he said of the hole that plays either 224 yards with a 100-foot drop, or 217 yards, from a completely different angle and going uphill 20 feet.

Another part of the debate about Chambers Bay is the turf, and if a fine fescue course works well for the U.S. Open.

“One thing there’s been a few comments on so far is the looks of the greens,” said Mike Davis, the executive director of the USGA who is responsible for the course setup.

“What’s fascinating in some of the greens, probably 12, maybe 15 greens, you’ll see almost a splotchiness, if you will. And what that is is there’s some patches of poa annua in there. From a coloration standpoint, they look very different.”

Davis said the greens still are producing a smooth roll despite the invading species of grass. Ryan Moore, the Puyallup golfer who is ranked 32nd in the world, agrees with him.

“Honestly, they’re definitely not the prettiest greens in the world, but no fescue greens are that pretty. But it actually rolls a lot better than it looks,” Moore said.

“They look like they’re going to bounce a lot. They look like they’re going to bounce off line, but if you hit a good putt it goes in. It really rolls true. It breaks how you think it’s going to break.”

Moore also discussed what will be a key part of this championship, and the patience needed for a fine fescue links course.

“It’s the mental side of it,” Moore said. “You feel like it’s going to be bumpy or you try and jam it in there instead of trusting it and hitting your putt. That’s what I’m going to try to do all week.”

The debate will be over soon enough, Holmes said.

“Somebody is going to love it at the end of the week,” he said. “I can guarantee one person will.”