Pair of Washington golfers kick off U.S. Women’s Amateur at Chambers Bay

·3 min read

Grace Lee admits she was a little nervous, standing on the tee box of the first hole at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place just before 7 a.m. on Monday. Lee, who just graduated from Bellevue High School a few months ago, had the honor of being in the first group to tee off at the 122nd U.S. Women’s Amateur, as one of the three golfers from Washington in the field.

“A little bit (nervous),” she said. “There’s a lot of people, a good crowd watching.”

Nervous, too, perhaps, because her whole family was in attendance, just an hour drive south. Of course, that’s one of the perks of playing in a tournament in your home state. Lee has a bright golf future ahead at Gonzaga University, but before she packs her bags for Spokane, she gets the chance to compete against the country’s best amateur golfers.

She was soaking it all in on Monday, taking in the sweeping views of Puget Sound throughout the round.

“It just has a really pretty view,” she said. “I feel like there’s not many golf courses like this, except maybe in California.”

Kate Barber from Savannah, Georgia tees the ball while competing at the 122nd U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place on Aug. 8, 2022.
Kate Barber from Savannah, Georgia tees the ball while competing at the 122nd U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place on Aug. 8, 2022.

That was a common sentiment among the field of 156 golfers on Monday: what a view, what a setting. Many of the golfers were playing Chambers Bay for the first time. For Adithi Anand, however, it is a familiar stomping ground.

Anand teed off from the 10th at the same time as Lee. She’s a student at the University of Washington and went to Redmond High School, where she helped lead Redmond to the Class 4A state title in 2019. She has played Chambers Bay a handful of times. Her family and friends were in attendance, as well as longtime UW women’s golf coach Mary Lou Mulflur, who offered some advice.

“Coach always says, ‘Do your best, have fun, enjoy the experience,’” Anand said. She took the advice to heart.

“I loved it,” she said. “I have one of my really good friends on the bag, and we had a good time. It’s definitely an honor. First qualifying, this is my first time playing the U.S. Am. And then at a course that’s one hour away from my home, something I’ve grown up playing on, it’s awesome.”

Lee shot a four-over 77 and Anand shot a five-over 78.

Jennifer Gu from Canada tees the ball while competing in the 122nd U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place on Aug. 8, 2022.
Jennifer Gu from Canada tees the ball while competing in the 122nd U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place on Aug. 8, 2022.

Despite the recent heat wave, the course is in fantastic shape. There were no complaints about the state of the greens, which were ripped by several tour professionals during the 2015 U.S. Open. Golfer Henrik Stenson remarked the greens then were like “putting on broccoli.” A hot spring and summer with an extended dry spell left the fescue putting surfaces in rough condition going into the tournament.

From 2017 to 2019, the grounds crew at Chambers switched the greens from fescue to native poa annua. From mid-December 2018 to the end of March 2019, the course closed to install new poa annua greens on all the holes, about six acres of greens surface in total. Poa annua, more commonly known as annual bluegrass, can withstand more extreme temperatures than fescue.

A spectator holds an umbrella to block the sun while watching golfers compete at the 122nd U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place on Aug. 8, 2022.
A spectator holds an umbrella to block the sun while watching golfers compete at the 122nd U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place on Aug. 8, 2022.

The poa annua surfaces are a marked improvement, both visually and in terms of playability. Eric Johnson, director of agronomy at Chambers Bay, told The News Tribune last week that the switch has been “very well received” by golfers.

“I thought they were pretty nice,” Lee said. “I really liked it. It’s kind of similar to what I’m used to playing. These kinds of greens, I kind of putt well on them. They’re very true to the read.”

The second round of stroke play takes place on Tuesday, before match play begins on Wednesday. The 36-hole championship final takes place on Sunday.