Part of what makes the U.S. Open golf tournament such an exciting event is that its, well, open. Every year thousands of golfers enter local qualifiers in hopes of becoming the next Tin Cup. All it takes is a $150 entry fee and a 1.4 or better USGA handicap and you too can have the dream of taking on Tiger Woods and the world’s best golfers. It sounds easy, but maybe keep your day job just in case. This year there is a consolation prize, though. You may not be able to take on the world’s best head to head, but you can play the same course they play, because for the second consecutive year the U.S. Open is being played on a course open to the public. This is as unique an opportunity as there is in sports. So, where can you see how your game stacks up against the pros’ under U.S. Open conditions? Here are the top five public U.S. Open host sites.
5. Chambers Bay â€“ University Place, WA
Just opened in 2007, Chambers Bay hasn’t hosted the Open yet, but the tournament is scheduled to come to the Northwest for the first time in 2015. Located 45 minutes south of Seattle, Chambers Bay is a links style course which features just one lone fir tree on the entire layout.
4. Pinehurst No. 2 â€“ Pinehurst, NC
Pinehurst has hosted the U.S. Open twice, including the 1999 tournament won by the late Payne Stewart only months before he would die tragically in a plane crash. Course designer Donald Ross called Pinehurst “the fairest test of championship golf.â€ Pinehurst will host the U.S. Open again in 2014.
3. Torrey Pines South â€“ San Diego, CA
Torrey Pines is a municipal golf course owned by the city of San Diego and was the host of the 2008 U.S. Open. Along with it’s stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, Torrey Pine’s checks in as the most affordable course on this list, as San Diego residents can play the South course for as little as $35.
2. Bethpage State Park Black Course – Farmingdale, NY
Bethpage Black hosted the 2002 Open and is the host again for this year’s tournament in 2009. 2002 marked the first time that the tournament was played on a course not only open to the public, but also publicly owned and operated. Golf Digest ranked Bethpage the 26th best course in America and its 6th toughest.
1. Pebble Beach â€“ Pebble Beach, CA
The host of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (or Bing Crosby, depending on which era you grew up in), Pebble Beach has also hosted the Open four times and is scheduled as the host site once again in 2010. The views at Pebble, which is carved out of the coast of California, are breathtaking and out of this world. It may be open to the public, but Pebble Beach is certainly not open to the poor as green fees run as some of the most expensive in the world.
Cost: $495 (And that doesn’t include the cart unless you’re staying at the resort)