U.S. Amateur golf championship: Tips for the gallery - Take it from a pro

The underlying point of this week’s U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay Golf Course is to give the facility a trial run to make sure it’s perfect for the 2015 U.S. Open. It won’t be just those in charge of the course who are getting a feel for things. The fans will also be exploring the terrain and learning the best places to watch the action.

While there’s still much to be learned, this much is already known: Spectators should drink lots of water.

The feature that makes the barren course so striking – it has just one tree – is the same thing that will make it tough on spectators.

Spectators at the event, which runs through Aug. 29, will have no natural relief from the sun.

“Bring a bottle of water and refill it as often as you can,” said Nick Pike, the course’s top professional. “It’s important to stay hydrated.”

While Pike encourages U.S. Amateur spectators to explore the four-year-old course, he knows the facility as well as anybody and offers several tips for getting the most out of the event.


In additions to staying hydrated, sunscreen is a must at this shadeless course. “If you have fair skin, it might be a good idea to bring an umbrella,” Pike said.


Unlike most courses, there are no cart paths at Chambers Bay, so spectators will have to walk mostly on grass and gravel. Hardly the place for heels. “Wear comfortable shoes,” Pike said.

If you need to get off your feet, you’re free to sit along the course or on the dunes. If that doesn’t work for you, Pike recommends bringing a portable seat.


While the crowd could be one of the largest in U.S. Amateur history, it’s unlikely the event will draw more than 7,000 people in a day. One of the reasons the United States Golf Association is so enamored with the course is because of its ability to accommodate massive crowds. It’s dreaming of crowds of 60,000 or more in 2015, so it should have no trouble with whatever the U.S. Amateur draws.

“The U.S. Amateur is the most intimate golf tournament there is,” Pike said. “There are no ropes (lining the fairway). You can walk 15 feet behind the players and listen to them talking to their caddies.”

Still, the crowd will be spread across fewer holes as the tournament progresses from 312 competitors Monday and Tuesday to two finalists Aug. 29.


As hot as the afternoons might get, the mornings can be chilly at Chambers Bay.

“We get fog banks coming some mornings, and it will be pretty cool until the sun comes out at about 10:30,” Pike said. “It will be very helpful to dress in layers. Be prepared for a cool morning and a very warm afternoon.”


While Pike encourages this week’s spectators to find their own favorite vantage points, he has a few recommendations.

Hole No. 5’s tee box: From here spectators have a panoramic view of the course and a close-up look of golfers playing up the fourth fairway before they launch monster drives on No. 5. The fifth hole is called Free Fall because of an 80-foot drop from the tee box to the fairway.

Hole No. 14’s tee box: With a view of Fox Island in the distance, spectators can watch golfers dealing with the temptation of trying to cut across the dogleg left. “Some will end up biting off more than they can chew and end up in the sand,” Pike said of the pivotal hole. “Or they will be rewarded.”

The dune north of No. 14: From this elevated point you can watch play on much of the first nine holes as well as the approach shot to the green on No. 12 and the tee shot on the 13th hole.

Sound View Trail near No. 3: From here you can watch play on the green on Hole 2 and from the landing zone (the place where the tee shots typically land) on Hole 11. “It’s a different perspective,” Pike said.

Plus, it’s a good place to pause for a drink of water and to take a picture next to the course’s trademark Lone Fir.

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497