CHAMBERS BAY GOLF COURSE – University Place, WA
A+ – Playability & Challenge
A – Quality of Course
A – Memorability
A – Service Levels
B – Pro Shop
A – 19th Hole Experience
A – OVERALL EXPERIENCE
SEMIAHMOO GOLF COURSE – Blaine, WA
B – Playability & Challenge
B – Quality of Course
B – Memorability
B – Service Levels
A – Pro Shop
B – 19th Hole Experience
B – OVERALL EXPERIENCE
(7/7/14 – Jim Allen) … Some improvised Independence Day weekend travel plans to the Northwest allowed Golfest Founders Jim Allen & Jim Dee to knock out two super quality rounds of golf in Washington State. One course seemed perpetually unattainable due to its “middle of nowhere” location and that was the 99th ranked Semiahmoo Golf & Country Club, located in Blaine. WA. For those of you who know how to use Google Earth, you’ll discover that it’s right ON the United States-Canada border. In fact I don’t know that we could have gone any further North without muttering the word “eh!” … Like in “Dat was a great shot, eh?” However, we decided to answer an early morning wake up call and make the 115-mile drive north from our Seattle Hilton. It’s those kind of sacrifices and hardships that Golfestian’s make to play nice venues and get elusive pegs plugged into our Top 100 boards. But don’t feel sorry for us, you should be doing this also!
Although it was overcast, the temperatures were looming in the 74-degree range. The course is absolutely beautiful, cut graciously through a rugged pine forest with several mild elevation changes. On the first couple of holes, we were trying to figure out what all of the hoopla was about – besides the views – because the fairways seemed fairly wide, receptive and pretty forgiving. But it didn’t take long before the greens began to bite like a pissed off Great White. Lots of sloping undulations and funneled collection areas made attaining a two-putt a formidable challenge. Chip it up, putt it down was the standard game plan! The key here was to stick it close, because every putt seemed to roll past the hole about five-feet. It took me at least a couple of holes to get my putting mojo – Jim Dee, maybe a little longer.
To complete the true Northwest experience, it started drizzling on us as we made the turn. It was off and on until we reached the final hole, but it wasn’t a big deal. Then it began to rain. But, since it was July, we had figured that rain gear was best served left at home. Go figure! Either way, it was worth the trip – even for our wives who enjoyed their relaxing time at the Semiahmoo Resort Spa. Number 99 – DONE!
The other course we played was the Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, WA, a short 45-minute drive south of our Hilton. Since it’s opening in 2007, Chambers Bay has caught the eye of golf enthusiasts and purists due to its scenic layout and the fact that its a true British Isles links-style course. So much in fact that it was named the site of the 2015 U.S. Open. We were here to give it a test run and as psycho Mother Nature would have it, it was sunny and 84-degrees with no noticeable wind to speak of. We have since sent her a THANK YOU card.
The only way you can play Chambers Bay is to walk it with a caddie and we wouldn’t recommend playing it any other way. The greens are extremely fast, there are very few flat lies, and the rough, … well … it can be pretty rough. Course knowledge is key here and our caddies earned their pay on this day making the 7.6 mile jaunt very informative and entertaining.
With the calm waters of Puget Sound serving as the backdrop, we played from the friendlier white tees, which measured up at around 6100-yards. It seemed like the entire front nine played uphill, which made hitting any approach shot short a very bad option. For example, Jim Dee hit an approach shot into the rough on the right side of the green on number seven. He chipped up to the left side of the green, but his ball began to bank left, pick up speed and rolled down the hill back into the fairway. When his Callaway ball finally stopped — he was left scratching his head with a 95-yard “re-approach shot.” You don’t see that everyday! Based on that one shot alone, it’s going to be fun to watch the U.S. Open. With it’s experimental “fine-fescue” grass, it’s nearly impossible to tell if you are actually on the green, or on the fringe. It all tends to blend in together, which made the putter a great tool to have anywhere near the greens.
The end result was we didn’t get beat up too bad and scored well, making this a great day! Once again, we need to thank Mother Nature for cooperating. Chambers Bay has already become a top candidate on our “We need to come back here again” playlist.
By the way, for the U.S. Open, they’re going to lengthen Chambers Bay out to almost 7600-yards. It was interesting looking over our shoulder at some of the back tee box locations. They are way back, so far in fact you might miss them if you didn’t know they were there in the first place. They also plan to thicken up the rough, speed up the greens even more and chances are the wind will be blowing. That’s why we play for fun, and they play for a living.