BY Art Thiel 01:34PM 06/20/2015

Gary Player calls Chambers Bay ‘a tragedy’

In an interview-turned-rant, legendary golfer Gary Player Saturday basically ripped Chambers bay for its length and its slick greens that are a detriment to amateur as well as pro golfers.

Gary Player took apart the selection of Chambers Bay for the U.S. Open. / USGA

Golf legend Gary Player fired an oral torpedo at Chambers Bay Saturday, calling the site of the U.S. Open an embarrassment and a tragedy during an interview on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive show. Here’s the transcript of his rant, via Golf Digest, prompted by the question, “Good morning, Mr. Player, how are you?”

“I’m standing in the most beautiful state in the world, Washington, Seattle, unbelievably beautiful, and we play this U.S. Open, this great championship, a group of people, the USGA that I have great respect for, but this has been the most unpleasant golf tournament I’ve seen in my life.

“I mean, the man who designed this golf course (Robert Trent Jones Jr.) had to have had one leg shorter than the other. It’s hard to believe you see a (golfer) miss the green by one yard and the ball ends up 50 yards down in the rough.

 “Imagine, this is a public golf course. This is where we try to encourage people to come out and play and get more people to play the game . . . It’s actually a tragedy. It’s 7,900 yards long. The world is suffering from a shortage of water. Can you imagine the water this course will take?

“An average golfer playing this golf course, I’m telling you, if he’s a 15, 16-handicap, he’s going to shoot 110 and he’s not going to go home a very happy man. We’ve got to make golf where it’s quicker, where it’s more enjoyable, get back to their family. We don’t want a husband and wife to argue because he’s taking too long and neglecting his family life.

“We’re going about it in the wrong way. The golf balls, and this is happening, why they’re building these crazy golf courses is because it’s in defense of the ball going too far. We’ve got to cut the ball back for the pro golfer, leave it for the amateur golfer. We’re making golf courses longer and longer.

More expenses, more water, more fertilizer, more labor. They’re taking a beautiful golf course, making undulating greens, bunkers in front of the greens, and the folks are resigning from golf in numbers as far as amateurs are concerned  . . . We don’t want to see that. We love the game. We’ve got to promote it in the right way.

“Professional golf has never been so healthy. But we’re in trouble amateur-wise.”

Course access for fans draws ire

Complaints about limited viewing and poor proximity to golfers prompted the USGA to explain the restrictions Friday afternoon.

“This is not about limiting views,” Danny Sink, championship coordinator, told reporters an an impromptu briefing. “It’s about protecting the spectators.”

After a rash of injuries to spectators from slips and falls at the layout’s first big event, the 2010 U.S. Amateur, gallery sizes were tightened to keep ticketholders off the most coveted spots — dune tops and ridges. But the slickness of the fescue grasses and looseness of the sand make climbs hazardous. The USGA was considering some expansion for the weekend.

“We’ll do it if we can, but we just want people to be safe,” Sink said.

Because of the steep mounds, spectators can’t walk along each fairway to follow their favorites. The effect was noticeable by the golfers, including Phil Mickelson, whose wife, Amy, has been a fixture for years in his galleries.

“Yes, it’s weird,” he said earlier in the week.  “Amy wants to come out and follow and she simply can’t, she just can’t come out and, first of all, see.

“And I’ll tell you, the golf spectators are probably the most dedicated fan, when you think about it. Any other sport you buy a ticket, you sit in a seat and you watch a hundred percent of the action. In golf you buy a ticket, you’ve got to walk miles in rough territory and you see but a fraction of the event. So I give a lot of credit to the people who are out here.”

The USGA tried to compensate with grandstands that can accommodate 18,000, including 6,000 around the 18th green. But 31,000 daily tickets have been issued.

“We’ve been conservative,” Sink said. “We’ve been making sure people are not going into places where they’re going to fall down and get hurt.”


The University of Washington’s Cheng-Tsung Pan faltered Saturday with a six-over 76 that left him at 219, two strokes back of his fellow former Husky, Troy Kelly, who had a 73 Saturday . . . The field was cut at 145 Friday night. There are 75 players in the field for the final two rounds. Amateur Nick Hardy bogeyed his last hole to finish at 5-over 145, allowing 15 additional players to play the weekend, including Kelly . . .  Spieth’s second-round 67 is his sixth consecutive round under par in major championships. Spieth’s cumulative score (23 under) is the best through six major rounds in a season in the modern era. The previous best was Ben Hogan (19 under) in 1953 . . . Both Spieth and Patrick Reed competed in the 2010 U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay. Reed advanced to the round of 32 and Spieth failed to qualify for match play.

  • The winner of the last six major championships has led after 36 holes:
    • 2015 Masters: Jordan Spieth
    • 2014 PGA Championship: Rory McIlroy
    • 2014 British Open: Rory McIlroy
    • 2014 U.S. Open: Martin Kaymer
    • 2014 Masters: Bubba Watson
    • 2013 PGA Championship: Jason Dufner



  • Gettoworkyoulazyplugs

    A senile old Gary Player complaining about a golf course. Yawwwwwwn. Do you really think the average green fee player plays it from 7900 yards Gary? From the men’s middle tee it plays 6500 yards which is comfortable even for a 15 handicap. The course is the same for everyone, quit whining and play on.

    • RadioGuy

      Are Phil Mickelson and his wife senile too?

      • TimJoFred


        • RadioGuy

          Ahhh, provincials. Gotta love ‘em. What would Gary Player or Phil Mickelson know about golf anyway, right?

          • TimJoFred

            ahhh, ignorant dumb shits, gotta ignore them.

          • RadioGuy

            Yeah, you might drop the pom-poms if you get distracted.

          • TimJoFred

            see above

  • SL

    The USGA had enough of a hand in the design features of the course that it’s a shame that they failed to soften some of the slopes to allow for viewers. It’s the worst course I’ve ever viewed a tournament at, and certainly one of the worst viewing courses that’s ever hosted a large event. As for the greens, they’ve always been bad, and they either need to spend more money to keep out the poa annua, or use a different type of grass for the putting surfaces. That said, it’s been a neat event to watch, both in person, and on TV. Gary Player thinks that the USGA needs to use the US Open primarily as a platform to promote amateur golf, and if you believe that, then he’s right. I doubt most people share that philosophy, though. They will do just fine promoting amateur golf by wisely spending the huge amount of money they got in the Fox TV contract.

    • TimJoFred

      You don’t get golf, do you?

  • Effzee

    Its cool to have the tournament here, the Sound, hills, and weather look great on TV… But the greens look embarrassing and the course itself, from the zoomed-out views, looks like exactly what it is – a polished turd. Its by far the worst looking course on TV that I can remember seeing.

  • jafabian

    IMO, a lot of the complaints simply stem from people not being familiar with the course since it’s a first for Chambers Bay. They love Augusta, for example, because they know what to expect. People complaining like Player or Sergio Garcia are demonstrating that they simply do not like their cheese moved.

  • TimJoFred

    Gary player does not GET this course. I have played it 3 times as a visitor to Tacoma and Chanbers Bay. It is as unique and difficult of a course as I have ever played. But I get it. This is as golf can be and at tiimes should be. The fact that Gary Player does not get it comes as no surprise to me. He is one of those pampered (ex) players that must need totally pristine conditions in order to play. Player just does not get it and it is too bad because I thought he would. Frankly, this course and all that it is, is what golf is all about, right Gary?

    • art thiel

      I really expected more out of him. He’s done lots of good things.

  • coug73

    I have not golfed in years. Chambers Bay looks like a Normandy Beach reinactment with real looking bunkers. The absents of trees would have helped my game. Nice to see an open pit mine can be reclaimed, sort of.

    • art thiel

      Sort of? What are you, a fan of scotchbroom?

      • coug73

        Heather, I like heather better. This links course idea comes from the moors of Scotland? Back home we fished and swam in the gravel pits

        • art thiel

          Heath and heather work. But reclaiming the wasteland was s feat that few appreciate.

  • 3 Lions

    I went Thursday & I found it certainly wasn’t easy to follow groups around or get between holes. The PGA at Sahalee was much more fan friendly. There aren’t a lot of places to get up close with the players from a fan standpoint. The coarse itself looks a bit over baked but it has been nice to host the national championship.

    • art thiel

      The criticism about the gallery restrictions is legit. After they analyze what worked and what didn’t, I’m sure they’ll shave some of the hills and widen spectator areas before another big tournament.