The 2015 US Open will be played at Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington. The second major of the season will be a chance for PGA Tour pros to put their names in the record books. Once again, Phil Mickelson will attempt to win the career grand slam and Tiger Woods will be trying to notch major championship #15, or #16 if he wins the 2015 Masters. Going into any major golf championship fans know that the shot shape off the tee box will often determine who is on the leaderboard and, ultimately, who will win the tournament.
As I walked around Pinehurst #2 earlier in 2014 I knew the course set up for a power fade. There were multiple tee shots that demanded a fade and there weren’t any holes that would cause a fader of the ball major concerns. This is one of the reasons Tiger Woods loves Pinehurst #2. Unfortunately, he was injured and did not play in the 2014 US Open. Prior to the tournament many of my friends asked me my favorite and I told them it would be a player that could fade the ball. Seeing as Martin Kaymer had just won the Players Championship I felt as if he had a good chance to win. He ended up lapping the field and winning easily.
In 2015 we will be watching the US Open at Chambers Bay. The course is sure to play close to the 7585 yard maximum, if not longer. This is a Robert Trent Jones II golf course which means it is going to force creative shots that are often used on links style courses. He has caused many golfers pain over the years and we will likely see the same thing during the 2015 US Open from June 18th to 21st.
When looking at the hole by hole overview it is obvious that golfers will need to shape the ball both ways out of the tee box. I will run through each of the holes.
Hole #1 – Puget Sound – The course starts with a par 4/5 with the Puget Sound as the back drop. The first tee shot of the day can be a draw or a fade but a draw would be the better shot shape. A power fade that does not fade and goes straight could cause major problems. All faders of the ball know about aiming left and the ball going dead straight. A pull or a drive straight left will make a birdie nearly impossible.
Hole #2 – Foxy – This is another hole that requires a draw. If a golfer decides to fade the ball they could end up in the bunkers on the left had side of the fairway. Starting the ball right and drawing it back across the fairway would be optimal shot shape out of the tee box.
Hole #3 – Blown Out – The first par 3 of the course will require a mid to short iron for PGA tour pros.
Hole #4 – Hazard’s Ascent – This hole sets up well for both shot shapes. The ideal shot shape would be a fade but a player that draws the ball can hit is out to the right and not have to worry about much besides the bunkers. In fact, the shortest distance to the hole will be down the right side of the fairway. The first shot is straight away so either shot shape will do here. There are plenty of large bunkers down the right that will cause issues for some.
Hole #5 – Free Fall – The fifth hole has an elevated tee box with a straight away drive. The further a golfer hits the ball the narrower the fairway gets. Bunkers tighten up the fairway meaning many PGA tour pros will hit irons or woods off the tee box. Either shot shape will work here. I would suspect we won’t see many drivers on this hole.
Hole #6 – Deception Point – This is the first hole that truly favors a fade. The tee box is set up where the fader will have to move to the right had side of the tee box but the entire fairway works its way to the right all the way up to the green. From a visual perspective, this is great for someone that fades the ball. A player that draws the ball won’t have major issues other than the rough. If they overcook a draw and hook the ball they will be left with a much longer second shot with a greenside bunker protecting the green on the right.
Hole #7 – Humpback – This is another hole that will benefit someone that fades the ball. In fact, there is almost no way you can hit a draw with confidence. It is a hard dogleg right with bunkers all the way down the right hand side of the fairway. Unless you are extremely accurate with a draw it will take a fade to master this hole.
Hole #8 – High Road/Low Road – The eight hole is a tee shot for those that draw the ball. The fairway is sloped from left to right meaning the ball will naturally roll to the right hand side of the fairway. Fading it off the tee means the ball will roll all the way off and into the rough. The tee box will likely be set up in the very back which means a fade that does not fade will be in the tall whispy grass on the left. A double cross could be huge trouble on the side of a hill.
Hole #9 – Olympus – This is a par 3 in which the tee box is about 100 feet above the green. Club selection will be very important and could be greatly determined by the wind.
Hole #10 – High Dunes – Another hole in which the fairway narrows as you get closer to the hole. This means most PGA Tour pros will not be using a driver. If a driver is used both the fader and the drawer will be able to hit their natural shot shape. I fully expect most golfers to hit a long iron or fairway wood off the tee box.
Hole #11 – Shadows – This is a very interesting tee shot as the fader will need to go over plenty of rough and bunkers to get to the fairway. If a player is fading the ball with confidence it won’t be a big issue. That said, if the fade does not fade as much as they want it to it could end up in big time trouble in the high grass. The tee shot is perfect for a draw as the hole is a dogleg left and then back to the right on the second shot.
Hole #12 – The Narrows – This one will be fun during the 2015 US Open. This is an extremely narrow hole that is drivable. Those that can drive the ball straight and long will be able to get on the green with an eagle putt. If you are not driving the ball straight it will be a layup with a mid to short iron. Even the layup is in a very narrow fairway. This is definitely a risk/reward hole.
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Hole #13 – Eagle Eye – This is a fader’s dream. The more you fade the ball the closer you will be to the hole. A power fade is ideal for Eagle Eye. Those that draw the ball will fear carrying it all the way into the bunkers on the right hand side of the fairway. Golfers will likely lose a shot if they end up in a bad lie in the bunkers.
Hole #14 – Cape Fear – After a fader’s dream it is a fader’s nightmare. All the way down the left of this dogleg left hole is a huge set of bunkers. It is a very intimidating shot for anyone that starts the ball left and fades it back to the right. Any straight pull or double cross will likely lead to a dropped shot or two. The hole shapes up very well for those that can draw the ball. It is visually daunting for those that want to fade – almost scary.
Hole #15 – Lone Fir – This par 3 is completely exposed to the bay. This means club selection is extremely important. It is also a green that is protected by many bunkers. It will take a green in regulation to walk away with a par on this hole.
Hole #16 – Beached – Do not overfade or slice the ball here. Anything that is pushed right will be gone. This could cause issues for those that fear going too far right. A Tiger Woods double cross would not be out of the question here. If you can control a fade or a draw getting out of this tee box should not be much of a challenge. Just don’t go too far right.
Hole #17 – Derailed – This is another par 3 that plays significantly downhill. It will be a short iron and could end up determining who wins the 2015 US Open.
Hole #18 – Tahoma – The US Open will conclude with an uphill par 5 that benefits a player that can fade the ball. It is truly a visual nightmare as all the dunes and bunkers are clearly seen from the tee box. An amateur would have a field day with this hole and could easily write down an 8 or a 9 on the scorecard. Tour pros will try to cut off as much of the right to left dogleg as they can. As mentioned, a fade works best as a draw will have to be perfectly placed.
With all of this being said, Chambers Bay sets up for both a draw and a fade. With Chambers Bay being a links style course most PGA Tour pros will not have major issues getting out of the tee box. The slopes of the fairways could cause problems. There are very few trees on the course as it is mostly whispy grass and dunes that will come into play. It will be fun to watch in June 2015 as the best players in the world try to tame this Robert Trent Jones II course. Visually, this would be a tough course for any amateur. Check out this link to get more photos all all 18 holes.