Chambers Bay in Washington, host of the 2015 US Open, has re-turfed its greens, moving from fescue to poa annua grass.
The course came in for heavy criticism during its hosting of the US Open four years ago, with the lumpy and patchy fescue putting surfaces not reaching the expected standard for a major championship.
Three of the most severely effected greens were re-laid in 2017, and the course’s management took the decision to re-turf the remaining 15 greens over the most recent winter. The course closed in October last year, and re-opened in April, with no design changes were made to any of the greens.
Matt Allen, vice president of KemperSports, which manages the course on behalf of Pierce County, said: “In early 2017, turfgrass health issues surfaced on three putting greens – the 7th, 10th and 13th – and the decision was made to re-sod those greens with a local source of poa annua. The results of that sod work prompted conversations between ourselves, Pierce County, and the USGA about the prospect of resurfacing every green. Consensus was reached that such a project would not only ensure better putting surfaces for future championships but would improve the everyday experience for customers.”
Allen added: “The new green surfaces look very familiar to the golfers of this region, as poa annua is the dominant putting green surface in the Pacific Northwest. They are playing firmer than I would have expected at this stage and that gives me great confidence that we will be successful in achieving the firmness that is integral to the course design.”
USGA senior managing director John Bodenhamer, who is currently overseeing the course set up at Pebble Beach for this year’s US Open, visited Chambers Bay in March and came away impressed with the new putting surfaces. He said: “I expected to see a few more seams and things, but I think it has grown in beautifully. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I kind of was. I would love to see nothing more than Chambers continue to host championships.”
Chambers Bay is not scheduled to host a men’s major championship for at least the next decade, with 2030 being the earliest current opening. The owners of the course have expressed an interest in hosting a US Women’s Open, although nothing has been confirmed. The US Amateur Four-Ball Championship was originally scheduled to be held at Chambers Bay this year, but it has been moved to 2021 to accommodate the greens replacement programme.