Hot Tip: Chambers Bay Golf Links

Hot Tip: Chambers Bay Golf Links 1(

Friday I got an email from “Savannah,” a caddie’s wife who I met in Savannah at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf two weeks ago. She told me half jokingly she could be a great source since her husband has caddied for years and has as many stories as Titleist has golf balls.

You can call me “Savannah,” she said at the time. Great, I said, as I handed her my email address.

Late last week Savannah was anxious to tell me about Chambers Bay, a new Robert Trent Jones II links-style course in Washington state’s Puget Sound set to open in June. Following is a portion of her email. (I’ll call her husband “Gil,” not his real name.)

“Yesterday Gil caddied at the new Chambers Bay Golf Course in Tacoma. It isn’t open yet so it was the FIRST time anyone played the course.”

“All the employees played for the experience and Gil got to caddy for the assistant pro. He said it is the most beautiful golf course he has ever seen. He has seen several, so that’s quite a statement. It’s located in University Place with a gorgeous view of Puget Sound. He also stated the elevation was absolutely astounding!”

“Gil will get to play the course for free if he caddies there occasionally, which thrilled him as it is very expensive. (Editor’s note: up to $150/round.) He was so impressed with the course our entire dinner conversation revolved around it!”

Thanks for the tip, Savannah.

Judging from the Web site, Chambers Bay is beyond spectacular. It’s reminiscent of Scottish and Irish links courses and will play 7,600 yards from the tips.

Get ready to walk: There will be no carts. (The architects wanted the experience of playing Chambers Bay to be as authentic as possible.) However, there will be caddies for those who do not wish to tote their clubs.

The Armchair Golfer

Photo of author
Neil Sagebiel

13 thoughts on “Hot Tip: Chambers Bay Golf Links”

  1. I know this is heresy, but normal players (not professionals) should not be allowed to walk on any golf course. By all means, walk each day and exercise each day to the extent possible, but stop slowing down a game that already takes too long to play 18 holes. If you can make time for 18 holes, you can make time to exercise without being forced to walk while playing.

  2. I wish every course was walk only.

    Sure there are some who require carts for medical reasons and thats all good.

    I think a foursome of walkers will complete their round faster than a foursome of equally skilled riders in two carts on a layout that does not have great distances between the greens and the next tee box.


  3. “I know this is heresy, but normal players (not professionals) should not be allowed to walk on any golf course. By all means, walk each day and exercise each day to the extent possible, but stop slowing down a game that already takes too long to play 18 holes.”

    —That is a seriously stupid comment. People in their carts slow down play much more than people who walk.

    I walk every time I play and I’m always playing with people driving and they NEVER wait for me. I, on the other hand, am constantly waiting for them.

    They drive to one players ball and he hits, then they have to drive (and usually search for) the other players ball and then he hits. Plus all the times they have the wrong club and they have to wait for their buddy to bring them the right one…while I walk straight to mine, pick a club and hit.

    A decent foursome walking will play much faster than a foursome in carts.

    Plus cart paths ruin a nice course. Nothing better than hitting a drive just off the fairway and watching it hit the cart path and fly 50 yards out of bounds. Nice.

    If you’re too fat and lazy to walk than take up a different game.

  4. This course is absolutely incredible. I live just across the main entrance from the new course and have watched the course develope. When it first started taking shape, I had difficult imagining the hole layouts. Now, I feeling like I am looking at panoramic shots from the British Open RTJones really went all out, there is nothing like this in the area. One thing you cannot get a sense of from the website pics is the significant elevation changes throughout the course and the monsterous size of some of the dunes. Honestly though, this will be a once-a-year event for me – unless I cut a hole in the fence and play 2 thru 17 only 😉

  5. The course is beautiful, I walked the loop around it today. It is going to be tough! Lots of elevation changes and narrow narrow fairways. The soil off the fairways is very sandy and there are quite a few sandy waste areas. This is definitely unlike any course I’ve ever seen.

  6. This course is so unique to the Pacific Northwest, it’s hard to compare it to anything. It has the potential to be better than Bandon in Oregon and the fact that it isn’t miles and miles from civilization like Bandon makes it even better. I had the chance to play it the other day and recoment saving up to play it yourself…just don’t plan on doing it in the near future, it’s booked up solid for a long time…

  7. Another caddie and I caddied for two guests yesterday. I believe they had an excellent time. The other pair of golfers in the same group used their own push carts. They commented to me that next time they are at Chamber Bay, they will definitely use caddies. Now, that is a nice compliment.

  8. I played Chambers Bay on Monday and came away totally impressed. Sure it’s expensive but this course is still a good value because it is a World Class course. I’ve played all 3 Bandon Courses and Chambers reminds me of Pacific Dunes.

    I can’t wait to see how this beauty matures over the next 5-10 years. This place definately should be considered for a US Open as it can handle a huge crowd with excellent terracing for optimum viewing … oh it’s a great challenging course as well.

    My only complaint was the slow greens. I was told they were stimping 8 and I consistently left many putts short. Overall, I can’t complain cuz it was fun and I did manage two birdies on the back 9!

  9. I played golf at chambers bay on 6/27/07. This course is amazing! The walk is very long though. This course will be receiving a US Open in the near future. The Par 3’s are Amazing. The Greens are still very young and slow but the undulating setup gives you a lot to think about when approaching a green. This will be the best links course in the US period.
    $150 a round
    Have fun its worth it.

  10. Chambers Bay is a gorgeous course — bring a camera! It’s not gorgeous like some you see with artificial landscaping everywhere — the sand dunes and grasses are meant to look indigenous and there is only one tree on the entire course. It’s gorgeous because it’s golf in its almost original form. In Scotland, links are the almost-treeless “links” between usable land and the coast and they are open to the public, just like Chambers Bay. The 9th hole, Olympus, is frequented by spectators on the public walking trail (and one of the best views on the course!). Many other holes see spectators peeking between the dunes from the walking trail.

    I agree with the previous post that walkers move more quickly than cart golfers — we had two older, disabled golfers in carts recently who were in a foursome with two walkers and the carts definitely slow things down, as well as detract from the total golf experience of having a caddy. Sometimes the caddy isn’t there exactly when you want because he is parking the cart!

    Although you can spot golfers without caddies there, I anticipate that more and more golfers at Chambers Bay will use caddies as word gets out that it is a very long course with some serious elevation changes. Unless you are in excellent shape (Ironman, marathoner, Best Ranger competitor, etc.) you will be exhausted by hole 18 without one!

    Greens fees are about $150 plus about $20 tax (a hefty Pierce County recreation tax is added), and caddies are $35 per bag. Don’t forget as you plan your trip to Chambers Bay to calculate the customary generous tip for a deserving caddy!

  11. I had the pleasure of playing Chambers Bay two weeks ago and it definately lives up to the pre-opening hype. I haven’t played Bandon yet, so I cannot say how it compares, but I do believe it will get “Best New Course” for ’07, and will mature into one of the “must play before I die” places on your list. Right now the greens are slow which suprised me as you could hardly
    find a pitch mark because the greens were so hard. By this time next year it will play very differently as the whole course will be hard and fast. I can’t wait! One big tip: STAY OUT OF THE WASTE AREAS. They killed my score. Easily should have been in the high 70’s, but carded an 87 because of a a triple bogey and a snowman due to finding those nasty unraked waste areas.

  12. I played Chambers Bay today on a cold, wet morning that turned to mostly sun for the rest of the round.

    I liked the course quite a bit – despite days of rain lately here in Seattle I was getting bounce and roll on the fairways — besides maybe Ocean Dunes in Florence, and all 3 Bandon courses, you wont’ find that too often around here.

    The course is very much like courses in Ireland, and Scotland – but isn’t an exact replica of Ballybunion or Lahinch. I don;t think it was meant to be… it’s more of an urban/industrial links course. The dunes all have Caterpillar tracks all over them — and I assume they left them on purpose (though I guess the fescue will eventually cover up some of them). It’s more like Pacific Dunes in many ways than a course from the UK – but the last 3 holes are really cool imitations of links courses in Ireland and Scotland – train tracks and ocean right there the whole way. The short par 4 16th (?) is awesome with an amazing skinny little green. It’s too bad there aren’t a few more holes along the water but I guess that wasn’t really possible. The dunes all have Caterpillar tracks all over them — and I assume they left them on purpose though I guess the fescue will eventually cover up some of them.
    It’s a breathtaking course that is very hard particularly with wind and rain (I carry a 14 index and shot a score higher than I am comfortable posting here 🙂 ) and is really demanding. Being a little offline or in the waste areas means trouble and sometimes more than a stroke to escape, (speaking from experience). Like real links courses, you are often screwed when your approach shot is a little offline and rolls into some trouble or back off the green which can lead to some Thomas Bjorn moments if your touch isn’t quite right. Nothing like fixing your original ball mark then going back to your ball down off the green.

    Compared to Bandon or Pacific Dunes? It isn’t really quite the same as those courses but is just as hard, is visually stunning and intimidating like the great links courses around the world, and is really fun to play.

    I should say the staff is very friendly and the course is amazing shape for December 28th, 6 months since opening.


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