The U.S. Open at Chambers Bay will be the biggest major sporting event ever hosted in the South Sound, and for first-time championship spectators, it may be overwhelming.
The United States Golf Association predicts the event in University Place will attract more than 250,000 people, including more first-timers than ever.
Spectators must locate their appropriate parking lot and shuttles and pack according to a detailed list of what to bring and what not to bring. And that’s before they even arrive at the golf course.
Once at the links, it will be fairly easy to wander aimlessly without a plan of attack.
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Even so, to get the most out of the U.S. Open, spectators should decide ahead of time what they want to do.
Some may want to follow a particular golfer or group of golfers through an entire round. Others may prefer watching rounds from designated grandstand viewing areas.
Some may prefer to stand at a single hole as players cycle through. And others might want to walk the entire course and take time learning the conditions and how they’re affecting the players.
Attendees should decide what they’re most interested in watching, then plan ahead to better orient themselves upon arrival at Chambers Bay. Learning the course and schedules for practice and championship rounds prior to arrival are key to efficiency.
USGA officials say viewing along the rope lines is limited, so those who aren’t planning to watch up close should use any of the 18,000 grandstand seats located at “strategic viewing areas” throughout the course, according to the association’s spectator guide.
Seating in those stands will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, and policies for using them will be posted at the entrance of each location.
Reg Jones, U.S. Open championship senior director, said the trails provide fans a convenient way to enjoy the course.
“That provides a great amount of access,” he said.
However, he recommends that spectators take advantage of the grandstands if they want vast aerial views.
“That’s where the best viewing is going to be,” Jones said.
Fans who want to hike the course should be aware of the challenges, including frequent slopes and changes in elevation. Jones said fans must be mindful of their physical abilities while attending the Open.
Spectators also should become familiar with their ticket privileges and know what they are allowed to access at and around the golf course.
Chambers Bay isn’t CenturyLink Field.
At a Seattle Seahawks game, football fans are affectionately called the 12th Man for their perceived contribution to a game’s outcome by making noise.
For golf fans, it’s not what they do but rather what they don’t do that matters. Unruly, rude, vulgar or drunken behavior, inappropriate language and jeering from the gallery are discouraged. Violators may be removed from the course.
Be courteous to other attendees and don’t impede on others’ experiences.
Any action that distracts players or disrupts play may also result in expulsion for the rest of the championship.
Excessive movement is discouraged to avoid making unnecessary noise. Spectators are advised to stand still when players are addressing the ball, and they’re encouraged to pay attention to the ball at all times.
In general, spectators should be self aware and recognize how their actions affect golfers, such as casting shadows on the course.
Listen to the workers and volunteers, who will be standing on the opposite side of the ropes helping control crowds.
Don’t ask for autographs during any practice or championship rounds.
“Spectators should keep in mind that the player’s first responsibility during U.S. Open week is to compete for the national championship,” according to the USGA spectator guide. “Spectators should not approach any player for an autograph from the time a player is en route to his first tee until the completion of his round.”
Players are not required to sign autographs, but many do so during the practice rounds, after they have finished playing and practicing.
Cellphones have typically been prohibited at major golf tournaments. But the USGA has changed its policy this year to allow some mobile devices with a strict usage policy.
Spectators may carry mobile devices smaller than 7 inches in length and height. All volume controls must be set to silent or vibrate.
All phone calls must take place in designated “phone zones” and can’t be made in areas where golfers may become distracted or play disrupted. Texting and email are permissible course-wide so long as they don’t disrupt the players.
Video and audio recording is prohibited, and photographs are subject to the USGA’s camera policy.
Stand-alone cameras will be allowed on the grounds during practice rounds (June 15-17) and spectators will be allowed to take photographs, with restrictions, only during practice rounds for personal use.
Violation of these policies may result in expulsion and forfeiture of ticket privileges for the remainder of the championship.
HEALTH, SAFETY, ATTIRE
Chambers Bay will pose unusual challenges for golfers, with significant elevation changes and uneven surfaces.
The spectator guide stresses that attendees be conscious of physical limitations and wear appropriate footwear.
Planning attire around the weather conditions is recommended. It can be difficult to carry extra items around the course, so rain coats may be a more convenient option than umbrellas for staying dry in inclement weather. For fans who use umbrellas, it’s important to avoid blocking views of nearby spectators.
Comfortable shoes and clothing are advised; drinking plenty of fluids is recommended to stay hydrated.
Fans won’t be able to bring food, beverages or containers through golf course security, with the exception of medical or infant needs. Empty, clear plastic water bottles (24 ounces or smaller) will be allowed.
Fairways may only be crossed at designated crosswalk areas.
A wide range of services will be offered to attendees with disabilities, including reserved accessible parking and motorized scooters.
USGA officials urge spectators to dispose of trash, recyclables and tobacco products in the proper containers as outlined in the spectator guide.
OUTSIDE THE ROPES
Fans can also soak in the U.S. Open experience off the course.
Those who couldn’t snag tickets can still take home a piece of U.S. Open merchandise from an on-site pavilion several days before the championship begins.
No ticket is necessary Friday (June 12) - Sunday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. to enter the merchandise pavilion. The golf course will be closed to the public during those days.
Ticket holders can access the 41,000-square-foot space throughout the event. It will be located at the U.S. Open Spectator Square along with the American Express Championship Experience and the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion, which will include autograph signings, photographs with the U.S. Open trophy and interactive golf experiences.
A series of events geared toward fans will be held before and during the U.S. Open, building momentum ahead of the championship.
Those will include the U.S. Open for All Fan Experience Wednesday-June 21 at South Lake Union Park near downtown Seattle. Admission is free and will include a live broadcast of the tournament, official U.S. Open merchandise sales and interactive exhibits.
Acceptable forms of payment for items at the golf course include cash, traveler’s checks, American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa and debit cards.