Chambers Bay’s All-New Greens Are Ready For Their Close-Up

Published on Tuesday, May 7th, 2019 in News | Slider

Photo courtesy Chambers Bay

Henrik Stenson, eat your heart out.

A six-month closure of Chambers Bay will come to an end on April 1, when the 2015 U.S. Open venue debuts its long-awaited Poa annua greens. The greens — re-sodded with turf brought down from British Columbia — have been growing in since the second week of November, and a mild winter, combined with thermal covers for all 18 greens, has the new surfaces on track to make their formal debuts this spring.

“It’s really been cool to see the whole process,” says Brent Zepp, Director of Golf. “It’s a big project, moving in and out literal tons of sod and watching it all go in. Everything has gone incredibly well, though, and now we’re just anxious to take those covers off and let golfers get out there.”

While the official process of removing the greens didn’t begin until after the course closed for the season last fall, one could say that it in fact dates back to June of 2015, when two weeks of scalding temperatures in advance of the U.S. Open forced greenskeepers to water more than usual, allowing the invasive Poa annua grasses to proliferate. The resulting “broccoli,” as Stenson famously called the tufts of Poa that protruded from the fescue surfaces, left many Tour stars grumbling about greens that were unfit to host a national championship. That the tournament also featured one of the strongest final-day leaderboards in U.S. Open history (including dueling eagle putts to win on the 72nd hole) did little to quell the sense that Chambers Bay’s greens — long a battle for course staff to properly maintain — had finally reached a tipping point.

An invasive grass common at other Northwest courses for how well-suited it is to our climate, Poa was being tracked in on golfers’ shoes and pushing out the less-aggressive fescue. The only solutions were to somehow prevent the Poa from reaching the greens, or to stop fighting nature and let the Poa win.

In consultation with the USGA, the decision was made to completely re-sod all 18 greens. Three greens — No. 7, No. 10 and No. 13 — were re-sodded in 2017, and after a year of testing, including positive reviews from players, USGA representatives and course staff alike, the remaining 15 greens were ripped out and re-sodded this past fall.

When the course re-opens in April, players will notice greens that are deeper in color than the rest of the turf at Chambers Bay. Outside of color and consistency, though, players should see little difference.

“We definitely wanted to preserve the firm and fast nature of the greens, which is an important part of an authentic links golf experience,” Zepp says. “Poa, like fescue, is a sand-based turf, so the water drains through it really well and it winds up nice and firm if you irrigate and maintain it just right. The first few greens, they were soft when they first went in, but after a few months went by, they were just as firm and fast as the rest of the course.”

“They’re doing really good right now, and we’re looking forward to getting them open.”

Chambers Bay is currently booking tee times starting April 1 — in fact, our Cascade Golfer Cup event at Chambers on Apr. 20 will be one of the first tournaments played on the course’s new greens. To learn more, visit www.chambersbaygolf.com.




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