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Richard Choi

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Photo Tour - Chambers Bay - US Open Edition - 3rd Hole
« on: February 02, 2015, 10:41:56 PM »
Our Story So Far

Hole #3, 200 Yards, Par 3

US Open Changes
The only change they have made to this hole since the opening is the extended tee box that increased the length of this hole from 175 to 200 yards. This hole was designed for mid to long irons and this change will make sure that will be the case even for the longest hitters.


You cannot talk about the third hole at Chambers Bay without talking about sideboards. This interesting par 3 features a very prominent sideboard (F) that dictates the play no matter where the pin is. A sideboard like this is featured in many holes at Chambers Bay and I think they are fabulous.

Some people argue that sideboards make the holes “too easy”. My opinion is that you should embrace sideboards because they DO make things easier for every day play, but cause enormous problems for highly skilled players when prepared for a big tournament.

How does this seemingly simple feature project such Jekyll and Hyde behavior? It is all about conditioning.

In everyday play, with the course playing softer (in relation to how firm it was for US Am, and hopefully for US Open) and greens running at 7 or 8 stimp, sideboards are quite friendly indeed. You can miss the green 10 yards wide of the green and grin as you watch your ball land on the sideboard and gently roll towards the middle of the green within easy putting distance of the flag.

Sideboards are even handier when you miss the green to the opposite side. Even if you thin your chip or bunker shot, there is a good chance that your ball will ride up the sideboard and come right back down towards the pin. The margin for error that sideboards provide is something of a godsend for regular weekend hackers.

In contrast, many pros will curse the sideboards as spawn of the devil when the course is playing firm and fast and the greens are running 10+ on stimp.

A high approach shot that is 5 yards wide of the green on any other US Open site would leave the player with a relatively straight forward chip shot, even with an ankle high rough. However, at Chambers Bay, if you make the same mistake to the side with a sideboard, you will watch in horror as your majestic approach carom violently against the sideboard, roll all the way across the green and fall into a deep bunker 15 feet below the green.

Sideboard won’t provide much relief for shots around the green for the pros either as if you are chipping from the same side as the sideboard, you have very little chance of holding the green. If you are hitting from the opposite side, the randomness of the bounce will preclude the pros from using the sideboard in the short game as it won’t be precise enough for their taste (and they hate to hit away from the pin anyway).

A golf course feature that, unlike bunkers, aids mid to high-handicappers but punishes highly skilled players? Yes, please.

Tee Shot/Around the Green

The third hole at Chambers Bay is, at its heart, a Redan. The green is kidney shaped with a very large bunker complex defending the entire left side with pronounced right-to-left and front-to-back green slope. The only thing that is lacking for a true Redan is the lack of run up fairway short of the green. But for a normal play, a right-to-left tee shot that bounces just short of the green that runs up to the green is an ideal play just like any Redan.

As you stand on the tee, 200 yards away from the green, the main thing that will occupy your mind is the size of the mound on the right side of the green (F). The second thing that will occupy your mind is the enormous amount of sand that occupies the opposite side of the green (A, B, C). It goes without saying that you are screwed if you miss left or right.

However, you DEFINITELY do not want to miss to the wrong side of the right mound (E). If you do, it is an automatic bogey or worse as there is very little chance that you can hit a chip/flop shot that will stay on the green. This is not as unlikely scenario as it first seems as the ideal tee shot is a high fade that lands just short of the base of the mound for most pin positions. If you end up hitting a slice or push it just a little, there is a very good chance that you are facing an impossible blind up-and-down.

Missing to the left is no bargain either. It is one thing to have an expansive bunker complex that defends the entire side. The problem is that most of that bunker is a steep, sloping face. Because of its slope, this is a bunker that is going to be constantly raked and fluffed. The combination of softer than normal sand, steep slope, and frequency of raking means that chances of getting a fried egg lie here is as high as any bunker at Chambers (the others being 9th and 15th). If your tee shot finds the bunker on the fly (B), you will be facing a terrible lie with a very delicate bunker shot – not a happy outcome.

Missing short, if you are unlucky, can be horrific as well. To access front pins, you will need to bounce it in just short of the green using the steep false front (D) to slow down your ball. However, if you are not careful, especially if you miss it towards right to the sideboard, your ball will come rolling back down the false front into the bunker (A). There are a couple of small fingers in the bunker, where if your ball ends up there, you will have to swing from your knees or while sitting down. In most cases, the ball will roll all the way down the hill, leaving you with a 50+ yard bunker shot from 15 feet below the green. From here, you want to make sure you hit a bunker shot that carries well into the green. If you get too cute and hit it a little short, you better have treaded lightly in the bunker as your shot is coming right back to you.

Missing long, which is probably the most frequent misses you will see on this hole, has two different outcomes. If you miss your tee shot long and straight, you will end up in the back bunker (H, this bunker will be popular despite its diminutive stature). If the pin is in the top tier, this would not be so bad. If the pin is in the lower tier, you are going to have to hit and pray as it will have to negotiate a 2 feet ridge drop.
[img[/img]http://If you hit a draw that lands in the middle of the green, it will end up long and left in the back of the green (I). A play from here will be a total crap shoot as growth here is a bit spotty and you can end up with a decent lie or a dicey one. Either case, your chip shot is fairly straightforward, uphill with a backstop, so miss here is the most ideal out of all options.


I have labeled four possible pin positions in the diagram (1 - hardest, 4 - easiest)

There are three different green sections (1, 2, and 3-4). There is a very small plateau in the front side just above the false front that hosts a difficult pin position (1) during normal play. I am hoping that USGA does not use this hole position. If the green is firm, it is impossible to hit anything close to the pin here. You have to hit it well short of the green and run your approach up. However, this is not advisable as there is a good chance that your shot will not carry the false front. If you hit the pin, you will still end up 20 to 40 feet away after the bounce. Worse yet, the putt coming back is frightening as anything that goes past the pin has a good chance ending up in the front bunker (A). If USGA puts a pin here, there will be much protestation from the field.

The middle part (2) is the highest. It occupies the green space just beyond the front plateau to the back bunker and ridge on the left. There is significant slope from the sideboard to the bunkers here. The slope is more pronounced than it looks and there is absolutely no straight putts here. If you are putting here, you really want to get a good look from below the ridge to see how the ball may break.

The third part to the back and left of the green is separated from the middle by a ridge that drops about foot or two. The pins (3 & 4) here will be most accessible as there will be many different ways to hit an approach shots to here. While there is significant slope here (right to left from ridge to bunker), the slope is fairly consistent and one dimensional. Medium/long putts can be made here as long as you are on the correct elevation.

Depending on a pin, there is a chance for birdie here. But if the pin is placed on the high side, you better pray for a par and move on.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2015, 01:56:22 AM by Richard Choi »

David Ober

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Re: Photo Tour - Chambers Bay - US Open Edition - 3rd Hole
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2015, 10:49:46 PM »
Absolutely amazing pictures. Thank you.

Matthew Essig

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Re: Photo Tour - Chambers Bay - US Open Edition - 3rd Hole
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2015, 12:35:29 AM »
Rich thoroughly dissected everything about this hole. I have little to add.

I would argue that the wind directions on the overhead map are just slightly off. The primary wind is more from the SW then W, and the secondary wind should be coming directly from the N, maybe NNW. A wind that comes from any part of the eastern hemisphere of the compass is a very unusual wind.

I want to emphasize this point by Rich: there is a false front. A shot not well struck will come off the front of the green and sideboard. With the increased green speeds, the false front will only play larger. However, it is not steep enough to eliminate the run in shot. With the increased firmness, the ideal shot actually lands short of the green (for most the hole locations).

This will be an interesting hole to watch. After successfully negotiating the tough opener, if a player can make a birdie on 2, it might lead to a good shot on 3 and a birdie. But if a player is off to a rocky start, and does poorly on 2, it can only pile on with a bogey on 3.

With that said, you now take a long walk to...

THE MEAT OF THE GOLF COURSE: #4 and the Bermuda Triangle of 5, 6, and 7!!! (all long tough par 4s)
« Last Edit: February 03, 2015, 12:46:09 AM by Matthew Essig »
"Good GCA should offer an interesting golfing challenge to the golfer not a difficult golfing challenge." Jon Wiggett

David Davis

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Re: Photo Tour - Chambers Bay - US Open Edition - 3rd Hole
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2015, 08:25:55 AM »
Rich, how did the guys do at the US Am on this hole. I can't help but thinking this will be an easy hole for the pro's regardless of the wind. It's pretty short for them and nearly everyone can hit a safe cut in off the bunkers in the worst case utilizing the side board to get it close.

The bunker will mainly leave flat and up hill lies as well which will leave little problems for pros. Depending on the pin positions, firmness and speed of the greens I'd say it's an easy par and perhaps difficult birdie. Is that fair or do you guys see otherwise.

I've been all over on this hole, left bunker, green on the wrong level and short.
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Richard Choi

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Re: Photo Tour - Chambers Bay - US Open Edition - 3rd Hole
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2015, 10:49:10 AM »
US Am found this hole a little too accommodating for USGA's liking, which is why they added another 30 yards to this hole. The added distance will definitely make this hole play tougher. However, I agree that players won't find too many birdies nor bogeys at this hole. As long as you don't end up on the wrong side of the mound, you should be able to manage this hole and survive.

David Royer

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Re: Photo Tour - Chambers Bay - US Open Edition - 3rd Hole
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2015, 06:22:40 PM »
Great job.  Please keep it coming. I'm climbing Mt. Hood on US Open weekend. Any news on being open for play the following weekend?  Thanks, Dave

Richard Choi

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Re: Photo Tour - Chambers Bay - US Open Edition - 3rd Hole
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2015, 08:41:14 PM »
Dave, I am guessing they will be closed for a couple of weeks...

Matthew Essig

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Re: Photo Tour - Chambers Bay - US Open Edition - 3rd Hole
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2015, 03:01:49 AM »
« Last Edit: June 07, 2015, 12:16:21 AM by Matthew Essig »
"Good GCA should offer an interesting golfing challenge to the golfer not a difficult golfing challenge." Jon Wiggett

Matthew Petersen

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Re: Photo Tour - Chambers Bay - US Open Edition - 3rd Hole
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2015, 02:40:54 PM »
Great back left hole location today, lots of discussion of "redan features," some excellent examples of players using the slopes. Fun hole to watch today.


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