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  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
  • Men in Green
    Men in Green
    by Michael Bamberger
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    by Bill Fields
  • Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    Unplayable Lies: (The Only Golf Book You'll Ever Need)
    by Dan Jenkins

    Kindle Edition

  • The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    by Gil Capps
Classics
  • Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    by Geo. C. Thomas
  • The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    Treewolf Prod
  • Reminiscences Of The Links
    Reminiscences Of The Links
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast, Richard C. Wolffe, Robert S. Trebus, Stuart F. Wolffe
  • Gleanings from the Wayside
    Gleanings from the Wayside
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast
  • Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    by Darius Oliver
  • Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    by Darius Oliver
Writing And Videos

One must take time to know the Old Course in all its moods. One must study the subtleties of its terrain and its curiously shifting winds. One must find its hidden snares and one must approach it without preconceptions of what a golf course should be. To be down the middle may mean nothing there; that may be quite the wrong place. To be long may mean nothing in less length is shrewdly used. To be able to play a few shots perfectly is not always enough; one must at times have the full repertoire.  ROBERT HUNTER


    

Thursday
Jun182015

Bad News For Darts Fans: AT&T U-Verse, Fox Agree To Terms

Fox Sports 1 subscribers who were experiencing World Darts Championships and other darts associated programming during big events, will get to watch all USGA programming.

Sources confirm the two sides have reached an agreement just in time for round one of the U.S. Open, adding approximately 4.6 million homes with access to coverage.

Fox and AT&T had been in a subscriber fee dispute for some time, causing viewers to miss several major Fox Sports 1 events, including the first two USGA telecasts.

Thursday
Jun182015

It's Come To This Files: Back-Up Caddies Retained

The Guardian's Ewan Murray reports on the falls of Henrik Stenson caddie Gareth Lord and Stephen Gallacher bagman Damian Moore, prompting Stenson to deem the conditions "dangerous."

Murray writes:

Stenson’s caddie Gareth Lord is expected to appear for Thursday’s opening round despite a fall on the 16th hole on Wednesday, which resulted in a heavy strapping being applied to his wrist and a subsequent x-ray.

Shortly afterwards, Gallacher’s bagman Damian Moore fell when walking in rough on the 6th hole and twisted an ankle. Moore’s prospects of appearing for day one at the US Open are regarded as slim after a protective cast was placed on the injury.

The concern for falls was so great that one agency has backup drivers for their loopers.

Rex Hoggard reports.

Mac Barnhardt and Jimmy Johnston with Lagardere Unlimited confirmed to GolfChannel.com that they have retained a local caddie for the week to substitute in case one of their players’ caddies is injured or unable to work.

Michael Greller, Jordan Spieth’s caddie who used to work at Chambers Bay, recommended Brendon Solomonson to serve as the group’s backup caddie for the week.

Wednesday
Jun172015

Video: Chambers Bay Eighteenth Hole Flyover

The finisher signals the arrival of the much anticipated U.S. Open and few holes are more intriguing than the 18th. While I'm not as fascinated by the alternating par of the 1st and 18th depending on wind or the committee's mood, what does interest is the decision for Sunday's final round. Will a reachable par-5 encourage going for the green in two, or will we see a long, dreary, hard-to-par two-shotter?

Either way, this nice lay-of-the-land hole is marred only but poorly constructed "basement" bunker added for the U.S. Open and hopefully filled in soon. The strategic concept of the bunker is sound, the construction execution lacking because it's so different looking than any other hazard on the course. Not only is the look jarring, it reminds the golfer that this is not a natural bunker, but instead something added later to penalize. A

The final Fox Sports flyover:

Wednesday
Jun172015

Strap In: The 2015 U.S. Open Has Arrived! 

All the talk of scouting, setup options, bad climbs, fescue grass, Fox Sports and the mysterious Chambers Bay arrives Thursday with a long but potentially captivating day of U.S. Open golf.

I wish I could read everything that was written today but we were busy bickering away on the Live From set about the course.

Here's where Jaime Diaz, John Feinstein and I discuss the role USGA setup and the importance of risk-reward golf. And another segment on the USGA's evolution.

Here's where we talk about our picks and you can hear my fantasy prediction of a Rickie-Phil Monday playoff (okay, the match-up possibility, not the idea of a playoff). Speaking of Phil Mickelson, he's not going to be hitting many drivers, which is a big change from his initial assessment when he played here a few weeks ago. Which is more a statement about the firm and fast golf than it is about Phil's game. He's also sounding confident about matching up with the sensiblities of the course, as Sean Martin notes here.

I have a good feeling about the course setup after what I saw last Sunday. It feels like Mike Davis and Jeff Hall will have things playing tough but not insanely so. The water has been pouring at night onto Chambers Bay! Still, here are things to look for indicating things are getting goofy.

Brad Fritsch (1:00 pm tee time Thursday) had a solid set of tweets assessing the course and he covers the buried lede of the week: the fan experience here, which is getting rave reviews until one tries to see golf. This is huge on a number of levels, starting with the prospects of a return to Chambers Bay but also in potentially impacting how the golf is perceived. We may seem some birdies without roars on holes where there should be people. The 8th hole is going to be played in complete solitude, which may be best as no one needs to see what happens up there.

GolfDigest.com's Dave Kindred filed a dandy on the weird viewing experience this week.

And here are Brad's Tweets:

Tuesday
Jun162015

"Chambers Bay Weather Secrets"

Thanks to reader Tobin for this Cliff Mass weather blog post on how typical this week's weather is for this time of year. He also touches on the microclimates at Chambers Bay as well as a tournament day forecast.

Anyone walking the course and paying attention will be fascinated by the temperature difference between the Puget Sound adjacent holes and those up the hill. The item explains that and more. And suggests rain gear Friday just in case.

The meteorology of Chamber's Bay is heavily influenced by the nearby Sound, which substantially moderates the temperatures year round.   The course also slopes down to the Sound (see picture above and map below).  As a result of these two factors, the lower holes tend to be cooler and windier, getting air coming off the nearby water.   The wind can pick up a bit during the late afternoon as the southern part of the Sound Breeze reaches the course. During the evening, as the land cools, there is a tendency for air to drain downward towards lower elevation.

Tuesday
Jun162015

U.S. Open Alternate Has Clubs Taken Away Mid-Practice Round

Mike Davis's accurate suggestion that only those who study Chambers Bay in depth have a chance to win along with his view that players have been taking practice rounds lightly in recent years and couple those ideas with the image of Fox Sports announcer Joe Buck playing the course during weekend practice rounds (and holding up Rory McIlroy), and the plight of Australian golfer Clint Rice looks just a tad unseemly.

As most of you know, alternates at the U.S. Open are not allowed to play practice rounds even though the top two alternates stand a decent chance of getting in the event. It seems Australian Rice got some bad info and was told he was eligible to play a practice round. Rice teed up with former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, until the fourth hole when he was approached by a USGA official.

Ben Everill reports.

His clubs were taken away and the 34-year-old Tasmanian was left to walk the final five holes of the nine he'd intended to play in conversation only with Ogilvy.

USGA rules state that alternates can use all the practice facilities, but are not allowed to play on the course proper.

A USGA official later confirmed Rice had been previously given a document which stated that he had no playing privileges.

Ogilvy said he understood the USGA rules, but that the incident was a shame.

"It's a bit silly if you're not holding anybody up or interfering with their practice," Ogilvy said.

Tuesday
Jun162015

Video: Chambers Bay Seventeenth Hole Flyover

The penultimate hole is listed at 172-218 yards but the right portion of the green features an elevated shelf that appears difficult to hit with a longer club, which is why there is a suspicion that we'll see a shortened hole played more from this angle:


That yardage is 119 yards and quite the tantalizing view at a right hole.

As for the rest of the green, it's not my favorite at Chambers Bay. The best greens, even the most complex, allow a player to remember key features and work shots off of those contours. Here the movement feels random in a way that champions chance more than skill.

The flyover with Holly Sonders and Gil Hanse discussing the final par-3 at Chambers Bay:

Tuesday
Jun162015

RTJ, Jr: Hey Tiger, Tell Me How Great My Design Is!

Point missers and rally killers have been known to infiltrate a U.S. Open press conference, but it's rare to get a point-missing rally-killer, or worse, a point-misser rally-killer who wants attention. Chambers Bay architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., who slithered into Tiger's pre-2015 U.S. Open press conference to get himself a little more praise. Tiger didn't bite.

To the transcript...

Q. We've known each other since you were 14. I appreciate you being forthright and honest about my golf course and all the odd bounces you're going to get.

Me, me, me, me! Go on...

Do you think we gave you enough alternatives to play it in different ways, and is this a thinking golfer's championship as well as a shot maker's?

Tiger, am I a genius? Please, tell me more about me!

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's a golf course in which how you built it is that we have so many options. And I think that it's -- what we don't know, as I told you, none of the people in this room know and all the players don't know, we don't know what Mike is going to do and when he's going to do it.

Mike, schmike! Get back to me!

What tees he's going to move up, what tees he's going to leave back, and to what pin locations are, where he's going to the put them at. We have a general idea. But it's unlike any other major championship I've ever had to prepare for having to hit so many different tee shots. There's three or four different tee shots on almost every hole. Basically Mike has an opportunity to play basically 36 holes and 36 different options, somewhere around there.

Stop with this Mike guy already!

So many different options that it's harder to, I think -- one of the harder Opens or any championship to prepare for given that there's so many variables. Yeah, can you run the ball up? Yeah, you can. But also then again sometimes you really can't. You've got to throw the ball up in order to keep it somewhat from going over the back. Some of the holes we're trying to figure out, like on 9,

Like, why in the heck did someone put a golf hole on the side of a ledge...

when he plays some of the top tee, where is the pin going to be. The bottom tee, obviously it's interesting, hitting off the top tee. When I first played here, I hit 5-iron and 6-iron. I went to the bottom tee and I was hitting 5-wood. So it was actually -- the top tee was actually longer. And to have that big a discrepancy, there's so many options. It's going to be interesting to see what Mike does. I'm kind of happy that I'm playing actually in the afternoon the first day, get a chance to watch what some of the guys do in the morning to get a feel for it and see what's going on.

Mike Davis, Mike Davis, Mike Davis!

And we thank you Tiger, with warmest regards.

Signed,

The Media

P.S. - you sly dog you, knowing full well that Mike Davis and Robert Trent Jones Jr. won't be giving each other any man hugs come Sunday night.

Here is the full video of Tiger's press conference at GolfChannel.com.

As for Tiger's game, the Morning Drive crew watched his warm up and didn't like the overcoaching they saw, and that's before noting all of the life coach visits. It's a lively discussion here about Tiger's analytical ways.

Robert Lusetich wrote about the recent talk of Tiger's struggles and the obvious pressure he's feeling in pursuit of more major wins.

Gene Wojciechowski at ESPN.com understands the fascination with Woods and his "ground under repair" swing, but takes issue with questioning of Tiger's determination to improve.

AP's Tim Dahlberg considers the "downfall" of Woods and suggests Chambers Bay will cause more problems.

It's been seven long years since Woods won that Open, and now even the bookies in Vegas can't make the odds long enough on his chances of winning this one. He's a 50-1 pick, and the bettors who once put money on him to win every tournament now look elsewhere to make their money.

That's not going to stop Fox from showing his every shot Thursday in a primetime telecast for which the network paid big money at a time Woods was still relevant. Woods still moves the needle, even if he no longer moves with the confidence of a player who once expected to win every time he teed it up.

What has changed is we watch him not to win, but to see when he crashes. And on a quirky golf course that features trains rumbling through on a regular basis, Woods is a train wreck waiting to happen.

Tuesday
Jun162015

Will Corporate Tent Noise Impact Play At Chambers Bay?

So far so good on the logistics front here at Chambers Bay, as the USGA's Danny Sink and his hard-working team have things running smoothly. Even better, the rumors of a recent murder at the media hotel turned out to be nothing more than the handiwork of a particularly metaphor-adept reviewer at TripAdvisor.

There is, however, one potentially unfortunate situation at the 18th tee. Corporate tents have been placed inside the old sand and gravel sorting bins leftover from the site's pre-golf days, one of the many fun touches here at Chambers Bay.

Putting aside the peculiarity of corporate types living it up amidst the relics, the tents are the closest I can recall seeing to U.S. Open play. The potential for alcohol-infused noise come Sunday should be enough incentive to play the hole from the par-5 tee instead of so close to the chalets.

The view of the par-4 tee and bin-tents:

Tuesday
Jun162015

The 2015 U.S. Open Merchandise Tent Report

So it's not Consumer Reports going undercover or even a complete review of the many great purchasing possibilities, but as far as merchandise tent options this year's is one of the very best.

After a few lackluster U.S. Opens, this one seems high in the number of fun things to take home along with some cool local-touches, even if the Seahawk theme wears a wee bit thin by the time you reach the volunteers taking your hard-earned money.

My item at The Loop from Chambers Bay.

Tuesday
Jun162015

Uphill Vs. Downhill: The 9th At Chambers Bay

Steve DiMeglio talked to Tiger Woods about the two tee options at Chambers Bay's 9th.

DiMeglio writes:

And on the par-3 ninth, he hit a 5-iron to the green this time instead of a 3-wood from 200, and from the other tee on the ninth hole he hit 4-iron from 40 yards longer.

That's one of the quirks at Chambers Bay. There are two tees on the ninth hole. There's one 100 feet above the green; the other is 20 feet below the green.

I got to look at these distinct options this week and while neither version of the hole leaps out at me as extraordinary, both have merits. Ultimately, the slightly uphill version is more visually appealing from a pure golf shot point of view, while the extreme downhill version does allow for an interesting sight of balls landing and funneling an unusual trait for a steeply falling one-shotter.

(Few of the world's great par-3s play downhill, especially to the extreme of Chambers Bay's 9th. Most are flat or play slightly up.)

Here's Brad Fritsch playing to the 9th today from the elevated tee. Obviously a brilliant spot to be due to the views and with today's hole it was fun seeing well-struck balls funnel down:


The views aren't as grand but the player's point of view is more compelling here even though it's essentially and all-or-nothing shot:

Tuesday
Jun162015

Video: (Bickering) First (World) Family Of Golf Architecture

With Robert Trent Jones Jr. in the spotlight this week at Chambers Bay, Jimmy Roberts looked at the "first family of golf architecture." With their architectural legacies up for grabs, Roberts moves quickly into the vitriol between Rees and Bobby and their warmish reuniting at an awards dinner.

In the annals of ten minutes you won't ever get back...this one is kind of fun. Just wish these two obviously bright and talented men had put more of their energy into building more interesting golf holes.

Monday
Jun152015

Video: Chambers Bay Sixteenth Hole Flyover

This is an exquisite piece of design work along the Puget Sound.

Playing above the railroad line featuring a split level fairway to a tiny green, the 423 yard 16th may see some fun swings in setup depending on the wind direction.

A driveable option may be in play and would allow for the use of back hole locations, which seem otherwise excessively difficult when played at the 423 distance.

The green deceptively slopes away from the landing area. (Somewhat noticeable in the embedded photo taken Sunday, click to enlarge).

The flyover:

Monday
Jun152015

Guess The Masthead Inhabitants!

I haven't a clue what the prize will be, perhaps Lee Wybranksi's 2015 U.S. Open poster or Martin Miller's stunning photo of Chambers Bay with Mt. Rainier in the background. Or both!

(Here is an Athlon Sports hole-by-hole slideshow of Miller's images worth a look.)

Either way, the art department Art Department has issued an unusually difficult challenge this year in guessing the eleven inhabitants of the 2015 U.S. Open masthead.

For posterity, the wonderful work by Tom Naccarato, complete with Seahawks colors and many other creative touches:

Monday
Jun152015

USGA: Where Is The Fox Money Going To Go?

This is the question Golfweek's Adam Schupak ponders as a 12-year Fox Sports contract as well as new international TV money will deliver the USGA significant resources. Hedge fund managers rejoice!

Though that is not the stance of the USGA, Schupak reports of the extra $35 million/20 percent revenue growth the USGA says it'll be adding this year.

“Whatever we got from Fox, however you want to do the math, we’re not harvesting money,” USGA president Tom O’Toole Jr. Said. “We’re spending it. We’re putting at least $150 million a year back into the game by governance or supporting it.”

However you want to do the math? Interesting way to put things! Don't hypnotize this USGA President!

The big change seems to be in on course branding, technological advances in scoring and the GHIN system, says Sarah Hirshland, director of business affairs.

Funding for many of these initiatives still would have been budgeted without the inflated revenue – the infrastructure behind GHIN, for instance, is terribly outdated – but the TV money has provided the luxury to think bigger.

“We wouldn’t have done anything as much or as well as we are going to do it, and we’re doing it all at once,” Hirshland said. “Normally we wouldn’t be in a position to do that.”

Schupak also queried people in golf, and naturally the older folks who just don't care had the best advice.

Arnold Palmer, PGA Tour legend

“Spend it on slowing down the golf ball.”

The King!

Deane Beman, Former PGA Tour commissioner
“The USGA should do a program to develop future golfers that is not based on just public relations but actually doing something. They could subsidize a caddie program at member clubs and provide scholarships for caddies in the form of golf scholarships. That won’t pay off for 15-20 years, but you’d produce a steady new stream of golfers for the long-term future of the game.”

Making too much sense.

Ted Bishop, former PGA president
"As I watched the State of the Industry address at The Players, Mike Davis intrigued me more than anyone when he spoke about reducing maintainable acreage. I'm a course owner with 300 acres. I would love to have a USGA person help me do that at The Legends GC without sacrificing playability. Field reps who provide free services to courses who cooperate with USGA initiatives would be useful."

Again, too easy.

Sandy Tatum, former USGA president
"The question of how to deal with technology advances as it pertains to equipment still must be dealt with. Coming up with the right answer is not easy. It’s certainly important enough to take it on. The guardians of the game have a real dilemma in that everybody loves hitting it 280. But the result is the game got bifurcated into the bombers and the rest of us. It has obsoleted many of our architectural treasures. It really is a miserable problem. The game is more important than anything else and preserving it and all of its characteristics is a vital project. It matters hugely, and while I can’t anticipate the response of the equipment makers, I hope they can be persuaded to join in the crusade."

Maybe this week on a par-70, 7,500 yard course that takes too long too play more will begin to understand the cause?

Monday
Jun152015

Chambers Bay Video: Galloping Gertie Collapse

Over the next week you'll no doubt see many TV shots of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which crosses the Puget Sound and was completed in two parts (1950 and 2007). The replacement bridge is also depicted in Lee Wybranski's official U.S. Open poster.

I didn't know the story behind the 1940 collapse of the prior version after just five months of operation, but I'm pretty sure we won't get winds like this during the 2015 U.S. Open...

Monday
Jun152015

2010 US Amateur: "There was nothing wrong with Chambers Bay that copious amounts of water couldn’t fix."

It's the USGA's golf course now and things looked pretty lean Monday but noticeably less shiny by afternoon.

Still, as I noted for GolfDigest.com, things are close enough to the edge to keep a close eye on the weather and those who like to scramble.

And as Rex Hoggard writes in this GolfChannel.com look back at Chambers Bay's setup issues in the 2010 U.S. Amateur, any course setup issue can be resolved by more water. Or so goes the USGA's thinking.

Although there have been numerous tweaks to the layout since the ’10 Amateur, the biggest lesson USGA executive director Mike Davis learned from that championship is that there was nothing wrong with Chambers Bay that copious amounts of water couldn’t fix.

Unless things go awry mid-round. Stay tuned...

As for the setup, it's vital to not let the course get silly because Chambers Bay has so many fascinating possibilities for tee and hole location variety, as we discussed today on Morning Drive from my bunker.

Sunday
Jun142015

Chambers Bay: Flexible Setup, Basement Bunker & That Tree

It's impossible not to walk around Chambers Bay in awe of the setting, vision and potential of the place. I'll do some more posts early this week with images, but my initial impression was extremely favorable. This will be a U.S. Open unlike anything you've ever seen and on a magnitude level that may shock the system. The course is already on edge, so setup will need to be very carefully considered.

Before we get to some of the details, several of the elements that make Chambers Bay an intriguing venue have been well covered and serve as a nice way to kick off the week. For those who missed it, the State of the Game podcast featuring Jay Blasi, on-site architect for Robert Trent Jones Jr., has been getting good reviews. You can check it out here.

There is a Seattle Times three-dimensional tour of the course with elevations provided by the Jones team. The hole details aren't great but the 3D idea and insights from Chambers Bay caddie Dustin da Silva might be helpful to get a sense of the place (thanks reader Larry for sending along).

Doug Ferguson sets the table for what we'll see, including the much talked about but ultimately inconsequential changing of par at the 1st and 18th holes on select championship days.

The par 70, but even that is different. The USGA plans to move the tees and alternate par between 4 and 5 on the first and 18th holes. And there's a par 3 (No. 9) that has two sets of tees — one that makes it play slightly uphill, the other has a 100-foot drop to the green.

Players already are suspicious, especially after USGA executive director Mike Davis said that anyone who plays only two practice rounds and has his caddie walk the course to get the yardage off the tee and to the green is "done."

It's not clear if the USGA is trying to identify the best player or the best student of architecture.

Ron Whitten in the June Golf Digest lists some of the key elements of the course and its creation, including a declaration that this is the first course designed specifically with the U.S. Open in mind.

Gregg Bell of the News Tribune adds this on the par changing and more in a comprehensive course preview that also credits RTJ Jr. with adding the 18th hole's deep fairway bunker. Though I was under the impression it was envisioned by Mike Davis.

One of the first hole’s two tee boxes for the U.S. Open is in front of the caddy’s shack down the hill from the clubhouse. That’s for when it is a par 4. On days the USGA makes No. 1 a par 5, the tee box in use will be 100 yards back from that.

Davis is curious to see how all the tinkering will play out this week.

“Honestly, there are some things I am still not sure about,” he said. “We put in new tee at 14 after the U.S. Amateur because too many players compromised that corner going down the left, and did not have problem flying over left side. Bob Jones’ bunker in middle did not come in play.”

For more variety than merely changing tee boxes on 18, Chambers Bay designer Robert Trent Jones Jr. added a pot bunker astride the fairway. It’s specifically for days at the U.S. Open the hole will be a par 5. Finished at Davis’ direction in 2012, it is a 12-foot-deep sand abyss about 120 yards in front of No. 18’s green.

It’s so steep it has stairs to access the back of it, for those unlucky enough to find it with a shot — or three. Caddies have nicknamed it “Chambers’ Basement.”

“It will be a talking point,” Jones said.

Golfweek's Bradley Klein and Martin Kaufmann engage in a very strong (and opionionated!) back-and-forth about the merits of Chambers Bay. Klein here, Kaufmann here.

In the New York Times Bill Pennington tells the backstory of the lone tree in the aftermath of an attempt on its life.

Chambers Bay instead turned to Neal Wolbert of Wolbert’s Plant Essentials, a tree-service and landscaping business in Olympia, Wash.

Wolbert said he could save the tree, and he instituted a treatment program that included a handmade epoxy that filled the gap in the damaged trunk. Iron bars were affixed to the bark to strengthen the area, and the tree was fortified with compost and nutrient treatments. Excess soil was removed from the root system, and over the next few years the tree was treated with fertilizers and summer irrigation.

“In three years’ time, it looked like a different tree,” said Wolbert, who donated his time rehabilitating the tree.

The tree has filled out, and new limbs have sprouted with lush growth.

“Even before the attack, it was clear that maybe the tree wasn’t going to last long term,” said Blasi, who now owns a design firm. “The hacking saved the tree, which is kind of poetic.”

In 2010, Blasi used the tree as the backdrop to his wedding ceremony near the 15th green.

Todd Milles on the saga that was trying to grow fescue grass in the northwest and how everyone loves it. We'll see.

Alex Myers talks to a few of the players who teed up in the 2010 U.S. Amateur and does some handicapping, as did I for GolfDigest.com based in part on recent play and experience from that amateur.

The forecast is for warmer than normal temperatures and plenty of sun, reports Adam Lynn. Locals say June has already been great for drying things out. The question will be, have things been dried out too much?

Sunday
Jun142015

Viewing Notes: 2015 U.S. Open Championship

All eyes are on Fox Sports this week as they unveil their golf broadcast vision on one of the game's biggest stages. Lead announcer Joe Buck spent a considerable portion of the Fox conference call talking about how little he'll be talking.

More importantly I have great news from Chambers Bay: volunteers and media on site (before I arrived) say Buck got in his last practice round at Chambers Bay as players were studying the course Sunday. Buck even managed to pound some range balls next to Adam Scott, hold up Rory McIlroy and make those workers out doing final prep run for cover.

Next thing you know Buck will toss footballs with Russell Wilson before the NFC Championship game and take BP with the Dodgers before the NLCS!

Richard Deitsch of SI focuses his always excellent media column on Fox's big debut this week. His biggest reveal: feature groups on the Fox digital coverage will feature the players people want to see, something that did not happen at this year's Masters.

• Fox Sports said Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler will be featured on Fox Sports Go for Thursday's opening round. Mickelson, Watson and Angel Cabrera are grouped together and begin their round at 10:33 a.m. ET. (The beginning holes will be featured on USOpen.com. Fox Sports Go coverage of their round will begin at 1 p.m. ET). Fowler, Woods and Louis Oosthuizen are grouped together and will begin at 5:28 p.m. ET. Their round is scheduled to be shown in its entirety on Fox Sports Go.

As for Buck's plan to go minimalist on the telecast, Tom Hoffarth reports:

“Believe me, with play-by-play here, I’m going with a less-is-more approach,” said Buck, who can draw upon experience in calling Major League Baseball here rather than the NFL.

“I think there will be times when we have Henry Longhurst moments,” said Norman, referring to the late BBC golf commentator who was once added to some of CBS’ Masters coverage. “We’ll give that pregnant pause and let the situations play out. There will be many times when silence is golden.”

He's also bullish on Fox's innovative streak:

Buck added: “What a boring world it would be if changing things up was so frowned upon that they were scared to do it. In 1994, everyone freaked out about FOX putting the score in the corner of the screen. If we are going to go into this event worrying what the traditional golf fan thinks, we’re dead. Fresh eyes, a fresh perspective, a little energy and looking at the same format for a different angle are good things.”

The New York Post's Phil Mushnick is not very excited about all of Fox's new gadgets and toys.

“Fox Sports Loads Golf Bag With High-Tech Arsenal For Network’s First U.S. Open Championship.” That’s followed by “Virtual Reality, Aerial Drones, Radio-Controlled Cars & More Offer Unique Views & Sounds from Chamber Bay.”

Yikes! Run for your lives!

The same missive includes all-upper case word that there will be “VIRTUAL IMMERSIVE GRAPHICS,” “118 cameras,” “29 replay servers” “5 production control rooms” “16 transmission paths,” “11 audio mixers,” “156 channels recording simultaneously” and “47 miles of fiber optics,” which, I suspect, is at least one more fiber optic mile than NBC unspooled.

If this were a manned flight to Venus, I suppose, this would be good, reassuring news.

Fox has unveiled a classic theme composed by Brian Tyler (who talks about his work here). The piece was performed by a 90-piece orchestra.  It's John Williams meets John Williams in the vein of John Williams, which is a victory if you're not a Yanni guy.

Tyler has an impressive resume of film scoring and says this about his work (which you can hear in sample form here):

“Sports and music have always had an important connection for me. I love the way iconic sports themes evoke the spirit of sporting events and can provide dramatic impact and nostalgic memory,” Tyler said. “I wanted the music I composed for the ‘U.S. Open on FOX’ theme to capture the epic struggle, the challenge, the history, the heartbreak, and the elation of competitive golf. Great sporting events like the U.S. Open are powerful stories that are unwritten until the last shot goes in and the trophy is hoisted. With this music I have endeavored to convey that essence and emotion.”

The real star of the week--star meaning source of most social media vitriol--will be the USGA's six new (pricey) public service announcements that will run repeatedly, especially if rumors are true of lackluster commerical sales.

Excuse me, it's the "new tentpole campaign."

Karl Greenburg with details on the latest effort to overpay an ad agency to help show how cool and lovable they are. If you watched the first two USGA telecasts of the year on Fox, you've already seen the elaborately staged PSA's.

One of the ads, which shows pinging balls across a warehouse and a guy putting on fake grass in his office, has a voiceover by an African American narrator, who mulls whether golf is really a game. “Yeah, it has game-like qualities; but the word ‘game’ doesn't seem to have enough ‘mmmph’ to describe it.” As we see shots of ethnically and economically diverse people playing, the voiceover continues with the message that you don't have to be superhuman to play, as “this game is for everyone.”

Oozing authenticity!

Big download reminder: USGA and Fox Sports Go should be downloaded and updated on your various devices if you want to watch the streaming coverage.

Like many apps, the Fox Sports Go required a download, then an update. But then it should work fine.

And the USGA has updated its U.S. Open app. Here it is for iTunes users.

Your broadcast cheat sheet, starting with Fox and finishing with Golf Channel where yours truly will be appearing with John Feinstein, Jaime Diaz and host Steve Sands this Wednesday at 4 pm ET for an hour show devoted to architecture, course setup, the USGA approach and Chambers Bay.

Fox times starting with their alternate coverage, followed by the primary coverage:

Golf Channel times:

Sunday
Jun142015

Video: Chambers Bay Fifteenth Hole Flyover

There is some beautiful use of the drone to capture the scale, grandeur and details of this par-3 that'll play from 123-246 yards at the 2015 U.S. Open. The least redeeming feature of the hole may be the lone tree, which we'll be tired of hearing about by Tuesday morning. But ignore that and watch as the drone takes us from up high to down low and you can sense the green slope and possibly where holes will be placed when the tee is back at that eye-opening distance. I don't know the grandstand situation here, but the 15th looks like a great spot to set up shop for part of the day.

Unfortunately the 246 tee, a more recent addition, will be a huge mistake if used. Having gotten my first look at the course I can't see this green working well from any distance over the 172 tee in the firm-fast conditions that I saw today.

Also there is going to be an interesting and potentially tournament-influencing bunker situation to the right of the green where players walk through the hazard to get to the green. When I get more clarification on how it'll work I will post.

The flyover...

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