We are just a few days away from the U.S. Amateur Championship. Today, I caught up with Andrew Putnam, a local who is familiar with Chambers Bay. Putnam is from University Place, Wash., which is only a mile away from Chambers Bay.
What can you tell me about Chambers Bay?
It’s pretty different from any other courses in Washington. It’s links-style like in Ireland, with huge sand dunes and extra-large greens. The greens are really sloped and have fescue greens, so they are interesting to putt on. They are kind of slower, but that’s because the slope is pretty severe. It doesn’t get too windy; it normally doesn’t blow more than 15 miles per hour.
I think it’s going to rain during a practice round on Sunday, but that will be the worst we should see.
What was it like to play in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach? By the way, I saw you on TV hitting from the beach.
It was the experience of a lifetime. It was pretty surreal. I’ve watched my brother play in pro tournaments, but this was surreal.
Yeah, about that beach shot: I started the day on No. 10, and I hit a horrible shot down onto the beach. My caddie and I went down to go find it and some locals helped us locate it. I hit a driver off the tee and put it in the rough. The second shot was in the rough, and I hit a 5-iron that I pretty much shanked.
When I got to the beach I had 70 yards to the green and I pulled out the lob wedge. I made it on TV, but not the way I wanted.
Recently you won the Pacific Coast Amateur at Eugene Country Club, an event your brother (PGA Tour player Michael Putnam) won five years ago with the same score. Did he give you any inside tips?
We talked about it, and I asked for tips but he didn’t give me any. I was a little familiar with the course because I played there two years ago for Pepperdine, and when my brother was there I watched him play. When I played the college event, there was ice was on the course, with the greens being very soft. I did pretty good; I think I took fourth with a chance to win, but (Washington’s) Nick Taylor won. I knew I was going to have a chance to play well there.
When you heard that Chambers Bay is going to be over 7,700 yards (the longest USGA championship ever), what goes through your mind?
(Laughing) I don’t know. Here’s the thing: The course is pretty playable at that distance. It will be rolling super quick and will probably play like 7,300. It won’t play as long as you think. Most guys are probably going to be pretty intimidated.
When they think of Washington golf, they think soft fairways and greens with all the rain, but once they play, they will be shocked. Greens will be pretty firm.
Does your brother keep up with how you play at Pepperdine?
He follows me, and I keep track of him. I don’t think he’s given me too much advice in the last couple of years, though. We both know how each other are doing, and it’s fun to compare. He used to give me tips growing up, but now we play our own game. We played Chambers Bay a week ago and went through the course together. I hadn’t played it since two years ago for the WCC (West Coast Conference) Championship. The rough has grown up, and the fairways are defined a little more.
From what I saw, it’s a lot better track from what I saw a few years ago.