Chambers Bay - My Verdict

Architect and regular HK Golfer contributor Paul Jansen gives his views on the much-discussed Chambers Bay, venue for June’s US Open

Jason Day requiring the assistance of his caddie to make his escape from a bunker

I am also a sucker for ground contouring and the promotion thereof through firm and fast conditions. Thanks to these conditions the ground was very much an option and whilst some would argue that the contouring was over the top you could probably make the case that small scale contouring would get lost on that property. Nonetheless the ground - coupled with the course conditions - made for fascinating viewing and was a great departure from the standard aerial game bombardment we see week in week out. Golfers had the option to fly the ball through the air towards the flag or alternatively use the humps, bumps, cants and ridges to propel their ball forward and towards the hole.

On the negative I can’t imagine Chambers Bay being a very walkable golf course. I suspect the design team wanted to maximise the sea views and this necessitated the need to build high ground, with the result being that the golfer now has to hike their way up the hills to afford a spectacular view of the surrounds. Add to that the length of the golf course - I believe it is nearly 8000 yards from the tips - and I bet you would feel like you had run a marathon if you did opt to walk, should you be permitted to play from these back tees.

To end on a positive I do like that each of the holes has a name. Take the fifth, for instance, which is called Freefall because of the long drop from the tee area to the fairway. The 17th is aptly named Derailed thanks to the rail track that is visibly in view and in play. Architect Albert Tillinghast wrote about naming holes nearly a hundred years ago and I still very much aspire to his way of thinking:

"Let every hole be worthy of a name. If it does not possess a striking individuality through some gift of Nature, it must be given as much as possible artificially, and the artifice must be introduced in so subtle a manner as to make it seem natural.”

I would really like to visit Chambers Bay Golf Club one day and I can’t say that about many golf courses. I think it would be interesting to look at and fun to play. I may not agree with everything they have done but I bet I would come away with more positives than negatives, even if I did rack up a big score.

Paul Jansen is the principal architect for Jansen Golf Design. For more information visit his website at


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