Will Chambers Bay Golf Course get another US Open?

Jennifer Gu of Canada plays the ball during competition in the 122nd United States Women's Amateur Championship at Chambers Bay <a class=Golf Course at University Place, Washington on August 8, 2022.” title=”Jennifer Gu of Canada plays the ball during competition in the 122nd United States Women’s Amateur Championship at Chambers Bay Golf Course at University Place, Washington on August 8, 2022.” loading=”lazy”/>

Jennifer Gu of Canada plays the ball during competition in the 122nd United States Women’s Amateur Championship at Chambers Bay Golf Course at University Place, Washington on August 8, 2022.

Cheyenne Boone/The News Tribune

The 122nd United States Women’s Amateur Championship takes place this week in Chambers Bay, moving into Sunday’s championship round. He started on Monday with a group of 156 golfers. Ahead of Friday’s quarter-final, this the number had been reduced to eight golferswho compete in match play.

Mark Hill, general manager of the USGA Championships, was on hand Thursday and Friday to observe. He is responsible for future site selections for amateur and open championships. He spoke to News Tribune sportswriter Jon Manley on Friday to discuss how the week has gone, what he thinks of the new greens and Chambers Bay’s chances of landing another US Open in the future . Here is the full conversation.

Jon Manley: First of all, how is the event going overall this week?

Mark Hill: I think it certainly meets and exceeds the expectations we had when arriving. This is the first women’s championship we’ve brought to Chambers Bay. We were very happy and excited to bring it here. The players I spoke to and our staff I spoke to really enjoyed the experience, certainly the challenge of the golf course. I think Chambers presented a great challenge. The host committee and the group here in Chambers Bay, the volunteers, the Chambers Bay staff, really made the players feel welcome. It was great.

JM: What have you heard from the players about the course?

MH: It’s very difficult. From tee to green, very difficult. The greens are definitely – you have to know how to play certain shots. We see that play out on the show. This is definitely a golf course you want to play more than once or twice to understand the nuances. What’s interesting about players who have progressed so far is that they would tell you that they learned a little more about the golf course with each round of passing and learned to approach the blows in a different way each passing round. I think the reviews of the golf course, in terms of presentation, challenge, have been very good.

JM: What do you personally think of the course?

MH: I love Chambers Bay. I was here for the first time in 2010. This is my 11th year on staff, but before that I was on the committee and officiated our championships. I umpired here in 2010. I was based in Louisville, Kentucky at the time, flew in and this was my first exposure to the course. Really liked, liked a lot. I think the architecture is exceptional. I think intangibles love the scenery, it’s quite breathtaking. You can get caught up in this, especially as a player if you’re not careful. I have always been a fan of Chambers Bay.

JM: The three original USGA championships (US Amateur, US Open and US Women’s Amateur) were held here now. What does this say about the relationship the USGA and Chambers share?

MH: I think that says a lot. We became very close with the leaders of Pierce County, Chambers Bay and Kemper Sports. I think what he’s saying is the respect we have for the golf course and the challenge it presents to the players. We’ve always been excited to bring our championships here, but we were especially excited to bring this one, to bring the female amateur here. We thought it might present a compelling challenge, especially once we got into match-based play and I think it turned out to be the case.

JM: The switch to poa annua greens has been well documented. Complaints were high at the 2015 US Open. What does the USGA think of greens now?

MH: I think they are exceptional. We saw and heard it during four-ball. We survey our players after each championship. We certainly heard very clearly that they enjoyed the four-ball challenge and really enjoyed the greens. I understand the conversion has been good for Chambers Bay, good for business, good for everyday play and good for the players. So yes, good all around.

JM: I know Pierce County was pushing for a Women’s Open, maybe 2026, 2027. The USGA went a different direction (Riviera Country Country Club in California in 2026 and Inverness Club in Ohio in 2027 ). Why?

MH: We haven’t ruled anything out for the future at Chambers Bay. We are in regular talks and communication with the leadership here. As I mentioned earlier, we are close. So I would like to think that we will continue to return to Chambers Bay. It’s just a matter of what and when. These discussions are ongoing.

JM: There are openings for future US Open (2028, ’31, ’36, ’38, ’39, ’40) and US Women’s Open (2032, ’33, ’36, ’37, ’39). Is Chambers Bay in play for any of them?

MH: Again, we remain in regular and close communication with the leadership here. We have not ruled anything out for the future. We would like to think that we will have the opportunity to return to Chambers Bay in the future.

JM: Is Pierce County actively lobbying for these championships? How would you describe your communication with them?

MH: They let us know that they love having USGA championships in Chambers Bay. They made it clear to us, continue to make it clear to us and it certainly shows in a week like the one we have here at Women’s Amateur. They love having us, the community loves having us, the players love the golf course.

JM: Besides the greens, there are also complained about the ease of walking for spectators during the 2015 US Open. Has all of this been addressed? Would you be comfortable with the course (to host another US Open) in its current state?

MH: I think so. Frankly, I’m outside of some of these strategic discussions, just to be very frank. From what I understand, as with any host championship, we look at things, have discussions with the host site and I think some of these things have surfaced and have to some extent been addressed or it’s is definitely something people here are aware of.

JM: As you mentioned earlier: the views, the setting. How much does Chambers have for that in this regard?

MH: It’s good. When I think about it, it’s a municipal golf course. I’m a public golf course guy. I learned the game on a municipal course, I worked on a municipal course. My first golf job was on a (municipal course) in Tennessee. I think it’s a tremendous asset to the region, the community and the municipality here to have a world-class venue.

JM: Yeah, even if you’re not a golfer, just the walk along the top.

MH: That’s the other thing that’s so fascinating about this whole area. I understand that foot traffic on the walking paths has increased significantly (since) covid. I heard or read that it doubled down and stayed there. When you think about that dynamic with a busy golf course – I think they’re as busy as they’ve ever been – and how that intertwines with people walking their dogs, it is pretty cool. You don’t see this very often.

Jon Manley covers high school sports for The News Tribune. A McClatchy President’s Award winner and a graduate of Gonzaga University, Manley has been covering the South Sound sports scene since 2013. Born and raised in Tacoma.

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