A few weeks ago I was priviledged to play one of the best courses in the US (and possibly the world) – Chambers Bay in Washington State. If you read my review on Inside Golf Magazine, you’ll probably come away with the distinct impression that I was quite taken with Chambers Bay 🙂 But I’m not the only one…I’m in good company – the USGA has chosen it to host the 2015 US Open.
That’s a big deal, especially given that Chambers Bay is a muni. Yup – a govt run golf course like the “affordable” ones we played when we were learning the game. Except…Chambers costs about $160 to play it – Ouch!!!!
Anyway, golf magazine readers like me already knew about Chambers Bay and the US Open, but did you know it is also the host of next year’s US Amateur Championship? Not only that, did you know that only 1/2 hour away lies another great course that will co-host those same amateurs as they compete for the prestigious Havemeyer Cup August 23-29, 2010?
Check out The Home Course, a lovely new course south of Seattle, with panoramic views of Puget Sound, The Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier.
I was lucky to play The Home Course the day after I played Chambers Bay. And although I didn’t find them all that similar in style/design (and price – The Home Course was 1/3 the price of Chambers Bay), the Home Course does have that “links” feel on a number of holes where the Sound comes into view. And yes…there is a lot of fescue.
At the beginning of our round the starter told us we could take a “free placement” in the fescue if our ball landed there (which it did – more than once). There are some rocks in that long grass and the placement rule is there to protect your clubs. I liked that rule!
I also liked the course, even if the dynamite that marked the tee boxes was a bit “telling” about some of my scores.
It is a very walkable course, but don’t make the mistake of thinking this course is a cake walk. It has its challenges for sure – especially the greens. But at the same time, I didn’t feel beat up either. I think The Home Course would appeal to all levels of players. Naturally, the USGA wouldn’t have picked it unless it offered a serious challenge for the top US Amateurs, but even from the forward tees, there were interesting elements (hazards and such) for high handicappers to “enjoy”. 😉 So often you play a course where the forward tees look like they were an afterthought. But I didn’t find that to be the case at The Home Course at all.
One thing I did find a little bit strange was the use of gas powered carts. Why not electric? For a new course, you would have thought they’d invest in electric (quiet and green) transportation. Hmmm…oh well. You want quiet and green? Then walk!
Also… don’t be put down by the lack of facilities. What the course gives up in a fancy club house (it was under construction when we were there), they give back in quality. The course was in immaculate condition. The first cut of rough was nicer than most fairways I play. The fairways themselves rolled and meandered towards greens that would challenge even the best PGA players. Thankfully the starter gave us some very useful tips before we teed off that saved our bacon more than once.
For example on the par 4 third, whatever you do, don’t be long with your approach shot. You cannot imagine how much of a backdrop there is behind the green. Trying to come back from there is brutal because the green slopes so severly back to front.
We watched two gents behind us make this fatal mistake, landing their shots on our tee box over their green. Thank goodness they had senses of humor or we might have seen wedges fly as they tried to get up and down!
And then there’s the par 4 seventh. You should drive your cart up to take a look at the green before you tee off.
You’ll see that you don’t really want to be any closer than about 140 yards from the pin (it’s the only flat spot out there). From there it’s all downhill to the water in front.
I like starters who give tips like that. It’s not often I’ve received that kind of help. Usually starters look at me and the first thing that comes out of their mouths is where the washrooms are on the course. Haha… NOT that bathrooms aren’t important, but I can usually find them when I need them. What I want to know is “local knowledge” that will help shave strokes off my game.
Now let me share some memorable holes…
The 2nd hole was lovely with the water behind the hole, a nice wide fairway and not a sound of civilization – just chirping grasshoppers and a warm breeze.
The 6th hole was beautiful to look at as well, but it eats Pro V1s. Seriously….I hit a great tee shot that unfortunately came up a bit short. My golfguy and I saw it land in the front bunker, but when I went up to hack it out, it was gone. I looked everywhere….no luck.
I even looked in the hole :). In the end, I gave up the hunt, scratched my head and watched my husband par the hole. To this day, I am convinced that my ball plugged itself into the side of the bunker and then sand rolled over it to hide it. The bunker looked like no one had touched it all day. But if I had had a shovel, that pristine sand trap would have ended up looking like “Ground under Repair”.
No. 14 is a pretty par 3 with water down the right and a huge bunker on the left – lots to distract you ;). You can see that construction is already underway on a new building.
Not sure if this is the new clubhouse or not. I read that The Home Course will be the permanent home of the PNGA and WSGA, so perhaps this is an office building for them. I guess I’ll find out next year when I go back.
The 17th was my favorite hole on the course. When you drive off the tee, you feel like your ball heading straight for the ocean…
And the green on 17 is a real treat – haha! NOT!!! It’s sloped severely front to back, so make sure you get your ball over that ledge, or be prepared for the putt from double diamond ski slope territory! I actually got lucky on this hole and my ball trickled down close to the hole (which is why it is my favorite). Had that not happened? I might have put this under the category of beautiful but deadly. I can’t wait to see where they put the pin on this hole for those Amateurs.
The Home Course is one I will definitely play again. In fact, that whole area in Washington State just south of Seattle is full of great courses I have yet to try. So I will be back next year to see the US Amateurs compete and then spend some time exploring other clubs close by.
And of course, I will also enjoy the beautiful city of Seattle, with so much to do. It’s one of my favorite weekend getaways, especially when the Mariners are playing. Check out these Travel Guides and search on Seattle to discover more.
PS: BTW…if you are playing the 6th hole and find a Pro V1 with two “Gs” on it, play it where it lies and then tell me what I might have scored 😉