Hackers get shot at e-golf at Chambers Bay

Tom Johnson is a decent golfer, but he was miles away from making the cut for the 2015 U.S. Open.

Still, he got a chance Tuesday to show his stuff at Chambers Bay.

After waiting in line for a few minutes at the American Express Championship Experience Pavilion, Johnson teed up at the virtual reality golf center and whacked a 155-yard screamer into a giant video screen.

Immediately, a computer analysis popped into view: distance, of course, but also backspin, side spin and miles per hour.

Several more strokes and then a personal one-on-one analysis by a golf coach.

“He said I was hitting down on the ball,” said Johnson, 60, who traveled from his home in Olympia to Chambers Bay.

“My stance is good, but he said to keep my weight on my left foot.”

The three golf simulators were popular stops Tuesday as fans strolled through the commercial square at the course, shopping, posing for photographs and scanning the crowd for top golfers.

Nearby, computer games invited golfers to “test your focus and hone your mental approach to the unseen side of golf.”

The booth filled at 3 p.m. when golf psychologist Bob Rotella appeared in person to offer insights.

Johnson was willing to listen. “I don’t know if it will help me,” he said, “but I’ll try it next time.”

Picture this: Golf

Wednesday is the last day spectators can take photographs on the Chambers Bay grounds, with either stand-alone cameras or cellphone cameras. Starting Thursday, no photography allowed.

We also suspect USGA officials will crack down Thursday on the use of cellphones, which are ubiquitous on the course this year, the first they've been allowed at the U.S. Open.

People are using them to take selfies, photograph golfers and take panoramic shots of the course.

There are "phone zones" around the course where people can make or receive calls. Texting and emailing is permitted in grandstands and other areas of the course as long as it does not disrupt play.Violation of the rules can mean forfeiture of tickets.

There also are phone charging stations in some areas, including Spectator Square, where people can drop off their phones in a locked compartment for charging.

Mike Shanks of Spokane used one Monday.

"Worked great," said Shanks, who dropped off his Samsung Galaxy with 20-percent power and came back about 50 minutes later to find it totally charged. "You want power to call your buddies and take pictures."

Shark, Walrus... Orca?

Golfers aren't the only ones putting on a show at the Chambers Bay golf course this week.

Native wildlife also is on display.

A stroll around the grounds Tuesday morning revealed a pod of orcas in Puget Sound, a pair of deer grazing under the lone fir near the 16th tee, ospreys winging in the wind and red-winged blackbirds making a ruckus in the reeds fringing an pond near the media center.

There was also the crow that dropped a piece of pilfered bread near the first green just after breakfast, but, really, you can see that anywhere.

– Adam Lynn