When the golf course architects at Robert Trent Jones II (RTJ II) designed Chambers Bay – site of the spellbinding 2015 U.S. Open Championship – they intentionally created a golf course with great setup flexibility that would require fewer resources to maintain. While some golfers were surprised by the golden-brown hue of fairways and greens on television, Bruce Charlton, President and Chief Design Officer of the storied firm knew they’d accomplished something that would stand as a turning point in the industry: a golf course that could be set up to present a variety of challenges to a wide range of golfers while requiring less water and other resources than the lush, green, predictable courses long associated with the game.
“We were thrilled that folks got to view a major championship played on a natural golf course that was not artificially pumped up to look green,” Charlton says. “Fescue grass- most often used on the best links courses in Britain and Ireland-isn’t meant to be green in the summer, and lends golf courses that firm, fast, fun condition only possible in maritime climates, such as at Chambers Bay along Puget Sound. It can be conditioned for very challenging championship play or maintained for the enjoyment of the everyday player.”
RTJ II has focused its most recent design efforts (including a major renovation of Pebble Beach’s Poppy Hills) on creating courses that require less water and maintenance and which have a smaller carbon footprint. By doing so they continue a long-held tradition at the firm of designing layouts that fit naturally into their sites and are lighter on the land. Charlton adds, “Now that our national championship has concluded, we look forward to having Chambers Bay return to our intended conditioning and design for every day public golfers who want to walk in the footsteps of the best players in the world or simply enjoy a great round on an accessible world-class venue.”
Chairman and Master Architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr. adds, “At Poppy Hills this coming week we’ll be showing members of the National Golf Course Owners Association why fun, flexible layouts that require less of precious commodities such as water represent the future of our great sport. Times have changed and although golf has been played for 500 years, the game needs to change too as we move further into the 21st century. We believe our work at Chambers Bay will help to herald this new era.”
Chambers Bay, located 35 minutes from Sea-Tac International Airport and an hour from downtown Seattle, is both a world-class public golf links and the key element of an environmentally responsible public works project. Built on the former site of a sand and gravel mine, Chambers Bay anchors a 930-acre reclamation plan developed by Pierce County as an engine for economic development and funded by a local bond measure.
Poppy Hills, located in Pebble Beach on the Monterey Peninsula, underwent an extensive renovation in March of 2013 centered around water conservation, primarily through improvements in irrigation and drainage. RTJ II wanted to create a firm, fast and fun course that unfolds seamlessly through the stunning Del Monte Forest.