The people’s consensus seems to be: Great for the pros, great for the Open, but not so much for the common folk.
As you approach Chambers Bay, the very first thing you are struck with is the utter and absolute brownness of the property. Perhaps one reason it jumped out at me so much is that I’ve lived in western Washington going on 18 years now, and if western Washington is anything, it is green and lush. In fact, green and lush defines us in a way.
So maybe this is why Chambers Bay seems like such a strange little anomaly — a desert in the middle of the oasis, if you will.
The brownness is, of course, the fescue that has been planted nearly wall to wall. Although a superior playing surface, the grass does not hold its color in warm and dry conditions, which we’ve had here in Seattle throughout the late spring. Throw in many thousands of folks stomping around the property several days in a row and, well, there you go.
So as I walked the grounds during the practice round on Tuesday I started asking a few spectators what they thought of the course and, in particular, the brown.
Everyone loved it. I heard answers like, “Great theater,” and, “I feel like I’m in Scotland.”
But when I asked people if they thought this was the future of golf, and if they would like similar conditions on their home course, they weren’t quite so on board.
I talked in length with Carl and Jen Tatum, a couple who had driven up from Portland for the week. They loved the layout as well as the look of Chambers Bay, but when I pressed them about similar conditions on their course back home, they weren’t so enamored.
“This kind of golf is for the pros,” Carl said. “This is too hard.”
I heard that same opinion from a few others: Great for the pros, great for the Open, but not so much for the common folk.
This opinion is a bit troubling. If we are indeed to transition into a new age of golf in this country we will have to change this mindset amongst the golfers at our courses. Brown golf can’t be simply confined to Open venues.
How does this start to change? Maybe one way is for some of the regular PGA Tour stops to start showcasing this side of golf as well. Perhaps when people realize it’s not just major championship golf, but actually golf itself, they might start being a little more receptive.