Chamber’s Bay Golf Course

Chamber’s Bay Pure Links Golf
6320 Grandview Dr W
University Place, WA 98467

Course Review Date: 09/27/2012
Course Reviewer: Ian Favre

Honestly, I don’t know if anything else causes me to lose more sleep the night before (minus heartburn) than a morning tee time at Chamber’s Bay. There’s a million different opinions of this place out there and over the past couple years of writing about this golf course I feel like we’ve heard them all. Some don’t like the greens, some don’t like the brown, some just complain because its something to do. Through all of that, I still firmly believe that if you are a visitor in the state of Washington and you have one day of free time on your hands this is the place to go.

As we’ve been documenting the past year or so, Chambers Bay has been undergoing a lot of construction, based on feedback from the 2010 U.S Amatuer and the USGA, in preparation for the Northwest’s first U.S. Open Championship in June of 2015. The primary focus of these efforts has been on the removal and replacement of some of the greens that just didn’t quite play the way the USGA wanted them to. We have some pictures below of the changes on number 1, which in my opinion might be the most difficult opening hole in say the past 2 decades of US Open golf. Even with the new green that hole is going to be hard as nails and in the 12-15 rounds I’ve put in here over the past few years I’m still waiting to make my first par.

The most recent update that we got to check out was the new green on #7, which Jason will certainly attest to as being the most hated green in his golfing career. Anything long rolled way off the back and left you a downhill chip you had almost zero chance of keeping on the green. Anything remotely short rolled fifty yards are so down the false front, leaving you a total nail biter of a pitch back up the hill. If you’ve played Chamber’s more than a couple of times over past few years you have likely feel victim to getting stuck at the bottom of the hill, taking 3 or 4 pitch shots to finally get the damn ball on the green.

One thing well worth mentioning, and I think the staff at Chamber’s is pretty proud to say it, is that the greens are as healthy as they have ever been. These are never going to be resort course greens and anyone harboring hopes of that happening can just forget it. These greens are designed to be sandy, a little furry and in ideal conditions, dry as a bone. The difference from now to say 2 years ago is the amount of grass that has taken root. A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have argued if someone said the grass was scarce and the sand was abundant. As of today, I think they have really turned the corner with how they want these things to dig in and hold the putting the surface. It might be an assumption, but I don’t think it was easy for them to get to this point and I have to give their grass folks some kudos for the fine work they have done.

The greens were not the only highlight of the round as my whole group at some point mentioned how impressed they were with the condition of the golf course. As someone who has been out there in the 12-13 time range over the past 3 years I totally agree that tee to green this is the best shape I have seen the golf course in. The kicker to that? I think the better shape it gets in, the harder it gets to play, because boy oh boy did she give us a good beat down. If you ever want to have a hilarious time at Chamber’s, bring an out-of-state buddy who’s in the 20 handicap zone and watch him take a good old-fashioned Chamber’s beat down. They will have a scorecard at the end of the round that says “N/A” and they will have loved every minute of it.

Oh, just remembered one other thing to note. Big time kudos to the starter who when he saw the group in front of us teeing off the tips, yelled over at them, “Gentleman, you need to be a 5 handicap or less to tee off from that set of tees. I’d suggest moving forward a set or two.” Well done sir. This is how you can help keep the pace of play solid and also ensure your customers have a much better time on the course. Frankly, I’d rather take a punch to the stomach than play Chamber’s Bay from the tips.

The new 7th green at Chamber's Bay.  Not open for play yet, but looking pretty darn nice :)    Probably the most visually appealing golf shot in the entire state.    Pull it left on number 8 an you might need a Sherpa to assist with finding that ball.  Welcome to Chamber's Bay Bart :)

Picture 1 – The new 7th green at Chamber’s Bay. Not open for play yet, but looking pretty darn nice.

Picture 2 – Probably the most visually appealing golf shot in the entire state.  The 15th hole at Chamber’s Bay.

Picture 3 – Pull it left on number 8 and you might need a Sherpa to assist with finding that ball. Welcome to Chamber’s Bay Bart 🙂 rating: 23/25
Customer Service: 5
Condition of Greens: 5
“Perceived” maintenance level of course: 5

Rating Notes:

One thing they have done well at Chamber’s is improve the customer service each time we go. This is a very accommodating group of people.
– Greens were as healthy as we have ever seen. They were slow, but healthy and smooth.
– Best condition we have ever seen the golf course in.
– Ehhh…$200 for our friend from out state is a bit of smack in the face. However, after 18 holes he wasn’t complaining at all.
– Food and beverage is still a bit steep in our mind. Entire practice facility was as good as always.

Course Review Date: 04/09/2012
Course Reviewer: Ian Favre

Course updates and construction continue at Chamber’s Bay Golf Course and we once again stopped by to get an update on the development. We really stole one for April too. A beautiful 60 degree early spring day in April, during what is usually the continuation of another awful Puget Sound winter was nothing short of miraculous. Oh the joy of hitting a golf shot off of dry ground!

First thing you will notice out there is a completed and open 1st green. The green was ripped out, the hillside slope from right to left was softened and it should now hold shots better. That will certainly be the case until that green matures because it is without debate the slowest green we have ever putted on. Here’s the gig….if you go from the putting green to the first green, you couldn’t find two greens that run at more different speeds anywhere. They had mentioned this to us at check in and at the start, but we’ll tell you it’s almost worth picking up, taking auto two putt and not putting on it. When you hit the second green and blast your 7 footer 12 feet past the hole, you’ll understand why. Regardless of knowing this regular green is going to be much faster than the first one, you just can’t get your hands to slow down. Here’s a couple pics of the new green (below):

Throughout the golf course construction continues and you see a lot of new build up in areas and a couple ripped out greens. The 7th and 13th both play to temp greens while the new permanent greens are put in. Can’t wait for the new 7th green to go in because that hole was a real *&^% (insert your favorite profanity) in years past. If you’re heading out there’s something important to keep in mind. Don’t hate yourself if you go a whole round without holing a putt outside of say, 6 feet. Playing with 3 single digit handicaps and myself, I think 2, maybe 3 putts outside of 6 feet went down and they were all from a golf pro. They are just so different, and in my mind so difficult, that 3 putting at this place is just inevitable.

As for the rest of the golf course, she played her usual self. Dry and unforgiving but open enough that when played from the correct tee box, a 30 handicap should enjoy themselves as much as a scratch player. Ok, a 30 isn’t going to like it. Maybe that was a stretch. Once again, the staff was very friendly and welcoming and you can still get a round in for under $100 ($75 for Pierce County). Play it while its cheap(er) friends. You can also see a big effort to get rounds in around 4:40. The starter tells you “see you in 2 hours 20 minutes” when you head to the first tee, then gives you your time when you make the turn. Nice work and we hope it’s helping.

Also, don’t hit your lay up on 18 heavy or you are in the basement! Sorry Jas :) Nice out though!

The bunker on the 18th hole of Chamber's Bay, Chambers Basement    The new green on #1 at Chamber's Bay    1st Fairway of Chamber Bay

Picture 1 – Jason playing our of Chamber’s Basement in the 18th fairway.

Picture 2 – The newly opened 1st green.

Picture 3 – Another snapshot of the new 1st green.

Course Review Date: 01/14/2012
Course Reviewer: Ian Favre

Our most reviewed golf course, our favorite golf course, and in our opinion, the best golf course in the state, Chamber’s Bay on my birthday with the Golfchops team has become tradition. Given the weather and a pending “snowpocolypce” rolling in it’s really the only choice you can make. Nowhere else in Western Washington are you going to find better playing conditions in 25mph sustained winds, sideways rain, hail and finally snow. Sure, you can go play something closer to home, but a US Open golf course for under $60, with solid winter playing conditions…yeah, this is certainly our winter home.

One of the benefits of our constant winter playing of Chamber’s Bay is keeping up on the USGA mandated course changes and constructions that started about 3 months ago. The first hole has been playing to a temp green for a couple of months now (as shown in our previous review), but has been completely resodded and does not feature the same wicked slope it previously did. On 18, the center of the fairway now features a bunker that looks like something out of a horror flick. This is just a guess, but I’m thinking its 12-15ft deep and you’ll need an 80 degree wedge just to get out of it.

The newest change is the complete removal of the 13th green. Typically a tough 534 yard par 5, she is playing as a par 4 during the construction. The temp green lies over 100 yards short of where the previous green was. As a side note, we joked that this temp green might be the best one on the golf course. Never seen a temp green roll so well. Kudos to the Chamber’s team for adding some updated yardage markers on that hole to give you an idea of how far out that temp green is.

A personal thanks to the team at Chamber’s for the hospitality on my birthday. I imagine it can be tough for a public course to always maintain a very high level of customer service but in the many times we have visited, we always encounter a very friendly, welcoming crew out there. Oh, and as a side note, eat in the restaurant after the round. Seriously, the food is great and the Chamber’s Bay Ale goes does way to easy. We suggest the clam chowder.

WP_000491    WP_000490    WP_000492

Course Review Date: 12/9/2011
Course Reviewer: Ian Favre

Just a brief update as we knocked out another round at Chamber’s Bay yesterday. The new bunker on 18 is epic. A 10-12 foot pit right in the middle of the fairway, that have stairs for you to get down to the bottom. Wasn’t there 3 weeks ago and bang it’s alive! Awesome looking new feature. Greens were very bumpy so if you are heading out you’ll need some patience. Putts are jumping all over the place right now. To be honest, it got pretty frustrating. Added some new pictures at the very bottom of the post, including the new bunker.

Course Review Date: 11/13/2011
Course Reviewer: Ian Favre

Hey, forecast is for sideways rain and sustained 20mph winds, want play Chamber’s? Umm, heck yeah! As tweeted to us by the fine folks at our favorite golf course, a true link day was in store. As sure as the forecast and the tweet, mother nature delivered a Scottish coastline-esk blasting of conditions the moment we rolled out of the car. It was the kind of weather that made you giggle when you walked from the shuttle to the driving range because of how miserable it was.

Our round at Chamber’s had a couple of primary goals minus the simple, survive the weather, keep it under 100 desires. First, we were testing the new Ping G20 driver, which was excellent I might add. But the primary reason was to check out some of the construction that was underway on a few holes at the course. Most notable was the removal of the first green and alteration of the right to left slope featured at the end of that hole. That hole is an extremely long and difficult opener where bogey has always felt like birdie. Hopefully, the slope is being decreased and the green will hold shots a bit better.18 was other major construction site, although I can’t say I know what they are doing over there. It’s on the right hand side of the fairway (see photo). Maybe widening that section or something? We’ll ask the Chamber’s team to chime in on that one. There were also a couple netted off areas in fairways that were ground under repair but did not show any signs of damage or anything.

Other than that she played her usual beast-like self. I guess the only question I am left asking myself is what the plan for the greens is. Most people either love or hate them. I personally am a big fan, however I don’t think they are at their best right now. The only thing I can compare them too are the fescue greens at Bandon Dunes which seemed more refined and rooted so to speak. They don’t necessarily roll bad at Chamber’s, just a bit jumpy. My thought on this one is to be patient. These greens will take time to hit their peak. I’m guessing in about 2 ½ years doubters will be singing a different song.We’ve heard of a couple other changes coming down pipe, a change to the placement of the 17th tee box and hopefully a new green on #7. I have no problem calling that the most difficult approach shot in the state. If you have played Chamber’s more than once you know exactly why. Like the rest of us you have had to play that menacing 35 yard pitch, up the side of a cliff because your ball rolled off the green. How many time have you played with a buddy who gets stuck down there and has the ball roll back to his feet a couple times. Man, that is an “I quit!” shot.

Some additional photos of the construction (click to enlarge):

Construction_2    Construction_3    construction_18

Course Review Date: 02/20/2011 – See Pictures Below

We lucked out into a surprise round at Chamber’s Bay on a cold, but gorgeous day on south Puget Sound. We have a pretty detailed review on Chamber’s listed below so I am not going to go too in-depth here, just provide some updates as there surly was some changes since the last time we were out here in December. When we arrived at Chamber’s we first went to the railing to look down on the course as usual and bam! What in the heck is with the greens? Are they black? What’s going on? It turned out to be some kind of iron treatment on all of them to kill the moss. It was pretty weird. Seeing dark forest green greens on a fescue links course was a shocker for a minute.

Chamber’s played her usual self, tough, pretty dry, and demanding. She was a bit different in a few areas though. First, was obviously was the greens. Not only where they a very odd color but they didn’t roll as good as we have seen in the past. They were bumpy, there were more rocks than usual from bunker play presumably, and from what the caddy said they hadn’t been mowed in over a month. Putting was no peach out there and the foursome left putts short on a regular basis. The other oddity was the ball didn’t roll out on drives as far as it usually does. Maybe it was the cold, or moisture from the overnight freeze but the ball just didn’t travel as we have become accustomed to at Chamber’s.

That being said, she is still a marvelous track and always a special experience to play. The greens need some work and hopefully this summer we’ll see them a bit healthier and we’ll see some good weather really dry the course out and bring back those 300 yard drives. Ok, maybe 290, come on. rating: 21.5/25
Customer Service: 5
Condition of Greens:
“Perceived” maintenance level of course:
Value: 4.5

Rating Notes:

Folks that work at the course are beyond friendly! Caddy can be a crap shoot.
– Greens were slow, bumpy, and being treated.
– Course was in great shape as usual and they put a lot of work into the track. It’s closed on Tuesday’s for maintenance all the time.
– $69 for February (pierce country resident rate) is solid. $99 for out of county isn’t terrible.
– Good range, excellent chipping areas and practice green. Snack bar was off this trip though. No protein bars “not during this season…” Didn’t know protein bars were a seasonal item…glad I didn’t ask for a papaya. No hotdogs at the turn, ran out…..ugh.

Course Review Date: 12/05/2010 – See Pictures Below

Golfers in Washington deserved this course so much and it was a real treat to see it in the national spotlight this past summer when hosting the 2010 U.S. Amateur. The Golfchops team always gets excited for a round at Chamber’s Bay, but given how tough the course played for the U.S. Amateur a few months ago, we were ripe with anticipation for the challenge it was going to present. Also, since we are your everyday average working adults, the $49 Pierce County resident rate ($69 for non-Pierce County) in December makes this the ideal time for anyone to tee it up at Chamber’s.

For those of you headed out to Chamber’s you’ll need to make a few preparations to survive your round. Make sure your shoes are comfortable because Chamber’s Bay is a 7.3 mile walk. Bring some snacks like peanuts and a protein bar, as well as a bottle of water. Food and beverage is expensive at Chamber’s. $5.50 for a hotdog, $3.75 for Gatorade. Layer up! The weather at Chamber’s Bay can be all over the place, from rain to sun to wind. You never know what you are going to get.

We’ll start by saying this golf course is not for everyone. Chamber’s Bay is advertised as a “Pure Links” golf course and links golf does not include a lot of green like you will see at your local municipal. Chamber’s Bay is brown and features a remarkable amount of sand. The weekend golfer might be hard pressed to understand why everyone thinks so highly of a course that is not flush with emerald colored greens and fairways. But make no mistake, Chamber’s Bay plays every bit the part of a world class championship golf course.

If you can hit the ball straight all day, which most of us amateurs cannot, you will survive unscathed out there.

Chamber’s Bay challenges golfers with 3 key elements; First significant amounts of undulation in the fairways and on the greens, secondly, hundreds of acres of waste bunkers, and lastly, very firm, fast greens. Unless you venture all the way down to Bandon Dunes, you will not find a course that makes better use of the land it was built on than Chamber’s Bay.

December golf in the Seattle area is usually a mud fest and a whole lot of plugged balls. You will never experience this at Chamber’s Bay. The course drains extremely well because of the amount of sand that it sits on. For today’s round the sand was more overwhelming than this reviewer has ever experienced before. Hitting the ball in the fairway gives you a good start but every lie is so tight that if you hit the ball just slightly fat it becomes a sandy chili dip. You basically cut right below the ball and hit it half as far as you intended. The waste areas are tough enough, but to content with all that sand in the fairways made it twice as hard as normal.

The most unique feature at Chamber’s Bay is their remarkably firm fescue greens. Saying firm and fast just doesn’t do these greens justice. They roll dead true, feature mounds, hills, false fronts, you name it. They throw the gauntlet at you out there. Play to the pin, you roll off and into a bunker. Play it long and you find a waste area or fescue. Play it short and try to run it up and you find a false front where the ball releases back to you up to 40 yards. Buy a yardage book, analyze the pin placements, and pray.

We’ve added a lot of pictures below with details about some of the holes. Frankly, at Golfchops we feel like you cannot find a better test for your golf game in the state of Washington than Chamber’s Bay. At times, it is so humbling you debate whether or not it’s even fair. The views are breath taking and the land is beautiful. It’s such an amazing place that even when you are plunking a horrific 110 you manage to smile and reflect on how great of a place you are getting to play today. rating: 22/25
Customer Service:
Condition of Greens: 4.5
“Perceived” maintenance level of course: 5

Rating Notes:
Pretty nice group of people at the facility
– Greens are firm and lightening fast. Good luck trying to hold a green.
– Course is beautiful and they seem to have an army for a maintenance crew out there.
– $49/$69 December play is the way to go. Summer rates can get as high as $189 which is way to much.
– The new driving range is very nice and the putting green was excellent as usual. $3.75 for small gatorade thought? $5.50 for a dog? Ouch.


5 thoughts on “Chamber’s Bay Golf Course

  1. My buddy and I played this course before, we wanted to see what all the hype was about. Yes, it is a nice course, if you’re in to the whole links thing, I’m not unfortunately. The pro shop was very courteous and helpful hands down, but for that price i would rather play “The Home Course” and have some extra for the 19th hole.

  2. I agree, they have a great staff out there. Always very welcoming and I think its important for them to make that part of the experience. Personally, I love the track, but I’ve struggled with the greens lately. It can be tough to get your mind settled over bumpy putts all day. I’m really looking forward to when those greens are dialed.

  3. I like the helpful information you provide in your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your blog and test again here regularly. I am reasonably sure I will learn many new stuff right right here! Best of luck for the following!

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