UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. - A rare stretch of warm, sunny weather in the Pacific Northwest has turned Chambers Bay toast-brown for the U.S. Open and has some players recalling the travails experienced in the final round of the 2004 Open at Shinnecock Hills, when the USGA lost many of the greens and resorted to hand watering the par-3 seventh hole during play.
The USGA is aware of that and has been watering Chambers Bay's fairways at night to restore a hint of green and hand-watering the greens ahead of time to make sure they aren't out of control when play begins on Thursday.
"The Shinnecock thing, looking back, that was just mismanagement," USGA executive director Mike Davis said on Wednesday. "We just missed it on that one.
"Where we really learned was the 2010 U.S. Amateur [at Chambers Bay]. We knew we had the course too firm during practice rounds, and we put a good bit of water on. It wasn't enough. This sand just doesn't hold moisture. So, you need more water. I have been very clear with the grounds staff, the superintendent and our greens section to say we need to manage this thing properly going into it so we don't lose it like that."
As the person in charge of setting up this Open, Davis said he gets a kick out of showcasing the architect's intent, but he strives to keep it fair and playable.
"What I don't like is if we miss something with setup, and Shinnecock is a perfect example," Davis said. "I can't wait to get back there in 2018. I wasn't in charge [in 2004], but nonetheless, I can't wait for the USGA to get back on that course and do it right because that is such a great golf course. When people hear the word 'Shinnecock' now, we almost have a negative connotation because of that Open. We will correct that."