The fleet of tractors has shrunk. The din of constant construction-area noise has subsided.
These days, Chambers Bay Golf Course looks more like a golf course again.
Much of the work the United States Golf Association recommended in preparation for the 2015 U.S. Open is finished. Only a few projects from this round of renovations remain.
“The construction impact or course-improvement impact should be minimized now,” Chambers Bay general manager Matt Allen said, “and the golf course is in about as good a condition, other than for the (2010) U.S. Amateur, as I have seen it.”
Hole by hole, here are key renovations:
• The third hole, a par 3, has three new teeing areas. Much of the dirt from the dunes behind the original tee grounds has been removed. The hole now can play as long as 205 yards.
• Given the way the sixth-hole tee box has been extended and the surrounding mounds reshaped, this par 4 has far more separation from the fifth-hole green. Space has been created for four more teeing areas – with the back tee stretching back to 505 yards. That area will not be open to the public until the fall, however.
“Moreso on a links golf course than a traditional layout, variability is going to be key to the challenge,” Allen said.
In that area, gallery walkways have been widened, and more space has been created for concession stands.
• Work to the surrounding area now makes the 13th green more receptive to iron approach shots. The left greenside mound has been softened so shots won’t fall back into the front-side waste area or shoot across the green to trouble off the right fringe.
The green has been enlarged by 500 square feet. The par-4 hole reopened to the public June 1.
• The downhill fifth hole, a par 4, now plays only to the straightaway green. The shorter green on the left side is gone; it’s now part of a sandy hazard. The landing area for the professionals – some 330 yards from the upper tee box – has been pinched by the extension of the right-side waste area by some 50 yards.
• Easily the biggest project going is the seventh hole, a beastly par 4. Most of the area from 100 yards and into the green has been reshaped to the form it will play for the 2015 U.S. Open. Once nestled close to the upper bank, the green has now been moved forward, closer to the fairway a good 30 feet. Also, the putting surface has been lowered 7 feet and its size increased.
“The first goal was to get that front of the green changed … so if an (approach) flies to the green, it stays on the green,” Allen said. “Similarly, that gives us some front hole locations which we did not have before.”
The left-side dune, 70 yards short of the green, has been beefed up. High fescue grass will grow from it. A right-side bunker just short of the green has been extended into the fairway by 20 feet. This hole will be out of commission until spring.
Projects slated for fall: building a new tee box on No. 8, finishing the lower tee box on No. 9, clearing more teeing areas at No. 17, and improving the surrounding area at the No. 18 green.