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The USGA virtual open allows geeky golfers to test their luck with a round.
The USGA virtual open allows geeky golfers to test their luck with a round.

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. — With its windswept terrain, undulating greens and lone fir tree, Chambers Bay is baffling some of the world’s best golfers this week.

I spent a lot of time in the bunkers.
I spent a lot of time in the bunkers.

Given the unique challenge, I set out to try my luck at this year’s site of the U.S. Open, which kicks off today at the links-style golf course near Tacoma.

Just virtually, mind you.

The website for the U.S. Open offers the casual hacker like me a sense of what Tiger, Phil, Jordan and other pros will face.

Welcome to the Virtual U.S. Open, hosted by the USGA.

This realistic game, produced by World Golf Tour, is certainly entertaining. The graphics are solid, and the game play is fun. The only thing missing: gentle breezes off Puget Sound.

I tested my virtual golfing skills on the course over the past two days, and let’s just say I’ve got some work to do on my game. (This also translates to the real-life game of golf as well). Even so, the virtual golf game provided an interesting way to envision the course for newbies to Chambers Bay like me.

On the first hole  — the challenging #16 known as “Beached”— I shot a less-than-respectable 15, including a horrific nine putt.

putting-chambers1Obviously, Chambers Bay — the game and actual course —  has an intense learning curve.

No wonder so many players are whining about it.

Next up, I tried the signature Lone Fir hole — the par 3 #15. Things fared better here, with an easy bogey.

Hole #14 — Cape Fear — landed me in the sand for three consecutive shots before I landed on the green for a 150-foot putt. A 3-putt led to a score of 9.


I thought I might fare a bit better on the front nine, so I jumped onto hole #4 where my drive fell in the fairway and a 2-putt resulted in a solid 5. Not bad.

I then tried hole #16 — known as Derailed — where things truly came off the rails. First a six-iron shot whacked out-of-bounds, nearly on the train tracks I’d presume.  Then, a few horrible putts, resulted in a quadruple bogey of seven.

Now, I know how some of the real players were feeling.

There’s not quite as much as stake at this year’s Virtual Open, at least not when compared to the full tournament. That said, the virtual player who scores the best can earn a chance for tickets to the 2016 U.S. Open.

Based on my results — a score of 40 over five holes — I don’t think that will be me.

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