Maderas: How A Golf Hat Becomes A Hat – A Q &A W/Amanda Piro

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The summer golf hats are in at Maderas Golf Club and you’ll notice one popular style with a new twist.

The hat by Pukka featuring an oversized outline of the Maderas tree now is accompanied by a bear emerging from the woods. The hats sell for $29 in the Maderas pro shop.

Maderas Merchandise Manager Amanda Piro recently talked about the inspiration for the new hat and what goes into making the hats you buy at Maderas.

Where did the idea for the new hat come from?

The idea came from the bear being the symbol of California, which promotes tourism. Sometimes we’ll use the state flag on the back as well.

The hat with the Maderas tree was really popular a year ago, so we asked the designer to add the bear to advance the design a bit.

tree hats

How long does it take to create a new hat?

It takes about six to eight weeks start to finish. The art work is done in Ohio, but they are manufactured in California. Each hat is built from scratch and is made of polyester.

How many varieties of hats do you make?

We order about 12 of each color and about 40 in each style. That’ll last us about three or four months.

Who has this hat been popular with?

It’s a little younger style so it’s attracted a younger crowd. The oversized logo really stands out. And you can do the flat brim that’s in style. We try to hit all demographics with our apparel.

How often does Maderas order new hats?

About twice a year, and we don’t usually carry over styles. I like to switch it up. I don’t like to have people who come once a year to see the same hat twice.

What’s the measure of a successful golf hat?

We want it to be high quality and something you’ll want to wear on and off the course.

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The Grand Monarch: New Luxury Living Arrives At Monarch Beach

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The new Grand Monarch luxury residences in Monarch Beach take elite golf course and ocean-view living to a whole new level.

And by that, of course, we mean you can see Monarch Beach Golf Links and the Pacific Ocean from your bathtub. This is not a joke. We repeat: This is a not a joke.

A square cutout above the bathtub makes the previously mentioned views viewable provided the patio doors of the main bedroom have been left open.

The blog has seen a lot of things in its day, but this is a first.

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That unique design twist by William Lyon Signature Home is executed in two of three models that debuted last weekend and will eventually become 37 luxury residences. Twelve residences are slated to be ready for move in by this fall. Price point is $3 million and up.

What do you get for such a lofty rate? A whole lot of unique living – and exquisite golf course views.

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One model has a courtyard that smells like a walk-in herb garden, another a wine cellar we conservatively estimate at 300-bottle capacity.

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Besides the benefits in living in such post accommodations, residents are also afforded the member benefits of the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa, the Monarch Bay Club private bar, restaurant and “stunning” private beach as well as, naturally, the access to lush Monarch Beach Links.

You can find out more about the Dana Point project at lyonthegrandmonarch.com or by calling 949.218.1855. We’ll close with a brief photo tour.

grand monarch

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Southland: Meet Century Club CEO/President Peter Ripa

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The Century Club of San Diego, the nonprofit promotion arm for the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance at Torrey Pines, derives its name from the original donation amount asked of members.

When the club formed in 1961, members were asked to give $100, a gesture of support for their commitment to help raise funds for the fledgling tournament then known as the San Diego Open.

Just as the cost of membership has gone up – it’s now $1,250 – so has the significance, influence and impact of The Century Club.

In May, The Century Club announced that the tournament generated $3.1 donation to local charities. Century Club CEO and President Peter Ripa says awarding those donations is among the most meaningful parts of his job.

“We work with a lot of medium to smaller-sized charities,” Ripa says. “The numbers we are able to provide to them are meaningful, more so than they might be for some of the larger charities. For some of them, they’re able to do an entire summer program for kids that they otherwise couldn’t have done.”

For its overall contributions to the community, the San Diego Hall of Champions honored The Century Club with its 2015 Humanitarian Award in February. Ripa says the award had dual significance.

“The award is named after Ernie Wright, who started Pro Kids First Tee San Diego, which is one of our primary beneficiaries,” he says. “So it was ironic and special all at the same time.”

In his fourth year as CEO, the tournament has enjoyed the type of success Ripa envisioned when he took the job after serving in a similarity capacity for The Colonial, the PGA Tour’s stop in Fort Worth.

“I saw the opportunity of what this event represented. San Diego. Torrey Pines. Late January. I felt like I could sell that,” Ripa says with a wry smile.

Ripa coordinates the efforts of a group of 60 club members, the ones sporting the navy jackets at the tournament, and says the expectation of members is set from the outset.

“Our first-year members are provisional members,” he says. “Their duty is to provide warm introductions into relationships in the community, those businesses that value promoting San Diego, and let us help drive their business.”

Planning, promoting and especially improving the tournament experience are all year-round duties of The Century Club.

Ripa travels to industry events and at least six tour stops a year to glean ideas and foster relationships and partnerships. His overall emphasis has been to improve the fan experience, a primary example being the relocation of the entrance gate to near the Gliderport last year to improve efficiency of security and ticket checks.

“People were waiting 30 minutes to get in. They only way to improve that was to move the entrance. There wasn’t the opportunity in the old footprint,” he says. “We’re all fans. No one wants a 30-minute wait.
“We’ve now got the capacity, as more of our guests come through, to handle up to a 25 percent increase per year.”

Surveys showed the impact. Ticketholders and guests reported a 97 percent satisfaction rate, up from 96 the year before.

“It shows the incremental improvements from the investments. We’re working toward 100.”

Part of improving the fan experience is expanding it, Ripa says, through attention to concessions, the social experience, etc.

“What we’ve worked hard in promoting is that there’s more to experience than just the golf,” he says. “We’ve worked hard on the social areas to allow people to gather with friends and family and have a sandwich or a beer and enjoy a great day outdoors. We want them to realize the beauty of Torrey Pines and San Diego. It’s a world-class golf course.”

And as another world-class golf event – the 2021 U.S. Open – creeps closer, the Farmers, Torrey and San Diego will all benefit from the anticipation and exposure but will also be challenged to continue to provide a world-class experience.

One area getting lot of attention, Ripa says, is the rapidly expanding world of television, apps and online media and projecting what that will look like in 2021.

“The exposure for golf is growing, which will only benefit San Diego,” Ripa says. “In the end, it’s great for the players, the sponsors and the Tour as a whole, but it’s something you have to be prepared for. We want people from around the world to have access, and we’ll be ready.”

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Southland: Balboa Park Golf Course Turns 100

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It may seem hard to be believe that a course sitting in view of San Diego’s city skyline could qualify as a hiding gem, but, alas, that’s the fate of Balboa Park.

The oldest course in San Diego, opened in 1915, is a local favorite yet may barely register regionally or to tourists due to little promotion as one of three city courses run by the city of San Diego.

If outsiders have heard of it, it’s likely in reference to Phil Mickelson playing his formative rounds there – or him still joining his kids for an occasional loop.

Another possibility is catching word of Sam Snead’s course record of 60 shot in 1943, a mark that still carries a magical aura due to the legend attached.

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Beyond that, Balboa exists as a humble home to loyal range of local golfers looking to catch a round downtown. But others who don’t experience the place are indeed missing something.

The course is narrow, a bit quirky in places, but it provides unmatched golf course views of downtown and a great walk to boot.

“It’s a cherished treasure in San Diego,” says Paul Cushing, the Assistant Deputy Director for the City of San Diego’s courses. “It has an incredible local following.”

With both an 18-hole and 9-hole course on property, Balboa is a golf venue for all ages – and at a value.

“For $14, you can get out and play nine holes,” Cushing says of the executive course for residents. “You can’t find that hardly anywhere anymore.”

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The 18-hole hosts 60,000 rounds a year, the nine-hole 50,000. That’s an impressive amount of play for a game that’s supposedly on the decline.

Cushing says rounds are actually on the rise at Balboa, partly due to recent improvements, such as a new irrigation system and new cart paths along with tweaks to a few holes.

The next steps to increase the lure of Balboa are plans to renovate and update the clubhouse, restaurant and pro shop.

There isn’t a definitive start date, but there is a definitive intent: To attract more non-golfers.

“We’re looking to attract more non-golfers through an upgraded restaurant and more attractive clubhouse experience,” Cushing says. “People in the community really like coming out to Balboa to eat and we’re looking to improve their experience.”

Maximizing the clubhouse view of downtown, which is spectacular, is part of that plan, including adding a patio space.

Expanding a limited pro shop space will similarly expand the options for golfers, many of whom, Cushing says, cherish the exec. course as much as the 18.

“It’s a great, fun golf course with a good variety of par 3s and 4s,” he says. “You can hit every club in the bag, and it’s a very easy walk with trees and rolling hills. People just love it, and it’s very affordable.”

When you play the 18-hole course, aside from the opening tee shot, which is elevated and gives you the first glimpse of downtown, you’re likely to remember the similarly scenic closing stretch. A brief tour:

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No. 16, par 5, 555 yards – The fairway bottlenecks, making for a tight tee shot, but if you avoid OB, you’ve got a great chance to score here. Regardless of birdie or bogey, the view from the green here offers the peak view of downtown.

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No. 17, par 3, 198 yards – This skyline remains in view from the tee of this elevated par 3. The last of a strong group of par 3s, club down and don’t go long here and you’ll keep par in play.

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No. 18, par 4, 316 yards –
Nicknamed “Cardiac Hill,” this tight closing par 4 is dead uphill, thus the moniker for walkers. Avoid the trees on the left and a walk-off birdie in the shadow of the Balboa clubhouse could still be yours.

After being treated to a fun round and a unique view of the city, it’s hard to imagine a round on San Diego’s oldest golf course ever getting old.

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Balboa Park By the Numbers

1915 – The year Balboa opened, making it the oldest course in San Diego

1943 – The year Sam Snead carded the course record (60)

28 –
Snead’s score on the front nine of his record round

27 – Holes at Balboa (an 18 and 9-hole exec.)

110,000 – Annual rounds played at Balboa’s two courses

$14/10 – Rate to walk the executive course for residents and seniors

For more information about Balboa Park, or to book a round, go to www.sandiego.gov/golf

F As In Fox: Things An Epically Failed U.S Open Broadcast Could’ve Tried

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In the days following the 115th U.S. Open, the criticism of Chambers Bay has largely died down, but the throttling of Fox has not, and with good reason.

While there’s no guarantee of another major at Chambers, Fox is contractually capable of sabotaging these things for another 11 years (Tiger will be 51 and probably still stuck on 14 majors).

Fox is a football network clearly out of its depth covering golf. They produced a clueless, lifeless broadcast that did a complete disservice to a major that gave them only everything you could ever want in a golf tournament.

We won’t waste space repeating the rightly deserved criticisms here, but the whole thing got the blog thinking about the state of golf TV broadcasts in general and here’s why:

Fox promised to break the golf broadcast mold and instead took it to the kiln and had it re-fired. How much of that was dictated by the USGA, I don’t know, but that’s of no concern here. The lack of imagination and innovation, and let’s break it down further – effort – was where a lot of the ire should be directed, but it also speaks to a larger point: There’s a stultifying lack of creativity around the game right now and in particular in golf broadcasts, which have changed how much again this century?

Maybe the networks became lazy over the past 15 years from simply having to point a camera at Tiger and pray that he made the weekend, but golf broadcasts on the whole have progressed about as far as newspapers in that time, meaning they haven’t.

Fox’s playbook seemed to be to hire Holly Sanders, point a camera at her, and the course, and pray. We see how well that worked.

As followers of the blog know, we don’t take this tone often, but we come not to denigrate but rather to be the Golf TV Think Thank Fox had two years to visit and didn’t. (Oh wait, they shaded the greens; my bad.)

What follows is a list of a few things Fox could’ve tried if it actually cared about progressing the golf broadcast model. What’s odd is that some of these come straight from the football broadcasts Fox knows well. Such as …

Mike up a player – How has this not happened? Well, we know why it didn’t happen when a certain would-be-sailor was world No. 1, but then don’t stream them live. You revisit snippets like they do with the NFL players. Is there a reason we can’t get a wire on Jordan Spieth, who is an extraordinarily and unusually verbally expressive player on the course? He talks through an entire shot process out loud with his caddie. Don’t catch random bits. Give him a mike and capture the whole thing and thereby let fans into the game, just like it does in the NFL. And if you can’t mike a player for some reason, how about a caddie?

Seriously, how has this not been done, especially in a sport perceived as mostly having generic humanoids as players? Someone with a personality and media saavy, like Pat Perez, for instance, should jump at the chance to do this.

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Player profiles –
For the broadcast, this is two-fold, seeing as they eschewed any attempt to profile profiles (because Jordan Spieth is a household name already, right?) and introduce them to the uninitiated, but I more mean capturing them in a graphic box like they would with an NFL QB. Example:

Tim Tebow, Philadelphia Eagles
Strengths

Running

Weaknesses

Everything else, particularly if it involves throwing anything with laces

OK, that one is a bit exaggerated in jest, but you could easily do this in golf and give some feel for a player who’s known or unknown to you. If you don’t know the player, as a golfer you can identify to the player type. An attempt:

Jordan Spieth
Strengths

Clutch putter – the best on Tour and perhaps one of the best ever.

Unshakable on-course composure

A knack for rising to the challenge in big moments (see: 2015 Masters)

Weaknesses

A 21-year-old body doesn’t deliver some of the power of his peers – yet

A Tip To Try

Looks at the hole – not the ball – on short putts

You could capture quirks about players, especially unconventional ones like Bubba Watson, and make them known to average golfers who don’t necessarily have the acumen to catch some of this stuff.

Build a replica green complex and teach a little – Chambers Bay has the on-course footprint of a small nation state. They could’ve easily found room, and you know they had the budget, to build a 19th hole for TV purposes only that could’ve served as a place to teach. Recreate some of those crazy lies and show how they were, or could’ve been, played. On the whole, golf broadcasts teach very little in relation to what they could be doing.

You don’t want it to break up the flow of the action, but when the tournament field is in neutral – as it was for long stretches at Chambers – you’d have time to do this instead of show a parade of bogey putts.

The more golf I play the more I’m reminded how much the general public doesn’t know about the game. TV is the best vehicle for it, but they have to be committed to it. Instead, Fox committed to nothing.

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Document the building of Chambers Bay – The appeal of the tourney was largely the new venue, something we rarely see in a major, much less in such a break from tradition as Chambers Bay was with the U.S. Open’s traditional style of play. Having famed architect Gil Hanse on to do some course commentary was a nice thought, but not nearly enough. Something closer to the exemplary document the Golf Channel did could’ve been produced and parsed into something akin to ESPN’s 30 for 30 shorts and doled out over lulls in the action. That the course turned into such a story, which was totally predictable, only makes this even more of an oversight.

Send Joe Buck to the bench and go to the pen – Monotone Joe would’ve been great for a chess match or a bingo tournament, but not the U.S. Open. His lack of emotion, enthusiasm and any ability to set up his golf comrades, who were a JV team themselves, was a killer. (To that end, Jay Delsing? Jay Delsing? Does Jay Delsing even want to listen to Jay Delsing cover the U.S. Open?)

When you turn on ESPN for the British, you get a certain golf giddiness in the voices of Mike Tirico or say Scott Van Pelt, because they’re genuinely excited to be there. Golfers connect to that passion and are just the same turned off by a lack thereof. Buck should’ve been allowed to stay home and re-laminate his St. Louis Cardinals baseball card collection if he couldn’t get up for the big game.

Not going to speculate on replacements, but Fox has a year to figure it out. Make this priority No. 1.

Social media, anyone? – On the whole, I’m not a huge fan of Twitter/TV trend (sorry, Twitter), but I’d make an exception for golf broadcasts, which currently do none of this. I mostly don’t like that Twitter is used as a vehicle for easy sensationalism in a lot of other sports, but golf has many thought contributors who add much to the discussion and context while watching tournaments. I know because I follow these people.

It would’ve been only too easy to turn on Twitter during the Tiger-tastrophe, but I’d rather see it used to highlight great play and contribute to greater understanding of the game, but a little snark might not be a bad thing for comic relief in a sport that can always use a little. Speaking of which …

Anyone have Will Ferrell’s number? – I’m not trying to bring the Dennis Miller/MNF disaster to golf, but the game could use a lighter side along the lines of what David Feherty provides. Ferrell cut some legitimately funny short clips for Pinehurst last year (Will Ferrell predicts the British Open: “The French.”), showing a passion and interest in the game.

If you’re truly getting outside the box, why would you not try something like this? For example, Will Ferrell riffing on fescue. You wouldn’t have watched that? Really? You don’t want to make a mockery, but a laugh track certainly beats dead air or a broadcast that’s simply flat as Fox’s was.

Clearly handing Fox a 10-year deal for the Open was a major mistake. They’ve got a chance in 2016 at Oakmont to prove it wasn’t. I suggest they get busy – now.

Six Observations About Chambers Bay and the U.S. Open

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1. “Old” School Is Cool – When I walked onto Chambers Bay for the first time, I immediately felt transported back to my couch in past Augusts at 5 a.m. when the TV greeting of “We’re coming to you live from Royal Birkdale/Troon/Portrush, etc.” would send a giddy chill down my golf spine.

I’ve never been to a British, but it has to feel a lot like this, or at least that’s the impression you get as you start to walk and discover this tree-free (OK, one) and bunkered beautiful behemoth.

It’s an 8-year-old course with the feeling of something much older and ancient because of the aged look of the course and its link to links golf, the birth of the game. Chambers feels like it’s always been here, yet its history is being made in real time. How rare and incredibly cool for golf.

For sports comparison, let’s just say, the first football to fly at Jerry World was probably cool … but not this cool.

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2. Background … Check – Chambers is really two experiences in one. There’s the course and then there’s the setting, which is breathtaking. The Puget Sound background would be awesome all but itself, but the touches of the tree and the train are not only stunning scenery but also incredibly smart visual branding of the course (more on this in a second).

On TV, Chambers is doing for the Pacific Northwest what the Farmers does for San Diego: It’s the best TV commercial it could ask for. Someone on local sports radio said as much yesterday … and that was by noon.

Experiencing Seattle for the first time, I can tell you the representation is spot on. The awesome just kind of keeps on going here. The only way it could be better at Chambers is if they could reposition Mt. Rainier behind a par 3 or put it on a floating barge for the week.

A scenic aside: I saw a sunset here on Wed. that blew me away. The mountains not only reflected pink, but a pink shaft of light seemed to connect the mountains to the clouds. As a sunset connoisseur … wow. My only regret is that I was massively out of position for a camera phone photo.

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3. Three Words: Trains Are Awesome – I’d been on the course for five minutes when the first train came by. I just happened to be on No. 16 and captured the photo at top. How incredibly cool, and what an awesome way to incorporate the culture of the area into the course design.

The use of the train in the framing of the holes is an absolute masterstroke of course design. It evokes the same appreciation I have for California course designers in the way they use the ocean and mountains. There’s a serious art to this, and it’s my favorite thing about the game from a creative perspective.

Moreover, what the train does is give added identity to holes in a way you don’t see on the British courses. Aside from a few holes on St. Andrews (The Road Hole & No. 18), I can’t conjure exact visual reference of many specific holes in the British Open rotation. No disrespect, but I just see a bunch of heavily bunkered and flat generic holes, which is purely my TV perspective.

By the time Sunday is over, I think golfers will have a lot of visual reference of Chambers, partly due to the train. I realized this as soon as I sent the above photo to a golf friend, who texted back, “What hole is this? I can’t wait to watch it on TV.”

The use of the train as added backdrop for greens and tees is equally brilliant. And my guess is if/when the Open comes back here, someone will have bought a branded locomotive. In the old days, that would’ve been a total TaylorMade move.

1318 Chambers

4. Nos. 13-18, What A Finish – Watching the holes in progression for the first time yesterday, I was struck by how visually strong this course becomes from 13 (the tough par 4) on. During the practice round near this stretch, I was highly curious how it would translate on TV. The answer: It could scarcely be better.

What I really like is that the visual intimidation factor of the course comes across akin to how it does at TPC Sawgrass. This is made-for-TV golf that totally works and will only become more dramatic and effective as the tournament pressure and circumstances ramp up.

Dear Golf Gods: Can you please send us a Sunday horserace?

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5. TV, Take Two – Aside from greens that aren’t well, green, (I had people asking me what was wrong with them), there’s another problem: The ball and hole aren’t always easy to track here, partly due to the lack of white-green contrast you normally get in golf. “Where’s the ball?” was a common refrain in our viewing session. Golf shouldn’t be like trying to track the puck in hockey, but that’s a bit of what we’ve got here. (Switch to orange balls, anyone?)

As for the hole issue, Fox actually highlighted one with a lime green circle late in the round. That didn’t seem to be the answer, but it was good to know someone had at least identified the problem and was trying.

Otherwise, the reverse angles of the course from Fox Island (and a barge perhaps; can I sign up to run Barge Cam?) are added awesome to an overall visual production full of it.

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6. The Spectator Experience, The Other Shoe – Following this tournament on the ground is a combination of brutal and impossible, more so than just your usual difficulty at a PGA Tour event. This course is walkable in the same way the Himalayas are … it really isn’t. By comparison, Torrey Pines, for example, is a literal and figurative walk in the park.

On the ground, Chambers Bay is a steep, dirty sand box to negotiate with very few places for foot soldiers to get a great glimpse of the action. (That said, I didn’t get to 15, 16, 17, where it undoubtedly has to better than in the higher elevations.)

In what few view areas they are, fans are herded there like wildebeests meaning hardly anyone sees anything. I “heard” Phil and Bubba hit tee shots yesterday but in reality saw nothing. It’s just not very possible here.

I’m not going to drag this section out as to not detract from an overall fantastic experience. From the hospitality suite (the Trophy Room) overlooking the course on Wed., I had a blast, and that’s the way to play Chambers Bay from a fan’s perspective. You pay a little more, but you enjoy it more, are a lot less frustrated and have a perspective on golf unlike anyone other. It’s a lot like what you see on TV, which is what this place is really all about it. That’s not a criticism, just reality.

I’ve seen it before and am happy to enjoy it that way until the day I actually come here and play, which I suspect millions will want to do after seeing the broadcast this week.

Maderas: 2015 U.S. Open Preview W/Chris Mayson Prediction

The venue alone already guarantees the 115th U.S. Open will be like no other. Built specifically for the purpose of hosting an Open, Chambers Bay is the first course to bring major championship golf to the Pacific Northwest.

If you’ve caught a glimpse of the course on ESPN or the Golf Channel, the Puget Sound backdrop all but guarantees this will be the most scenic venue ever for an Open. Whether it makes for great golf remains to be seen as no PGA event has ever been contested here. Chambers, the University of Washington’s college course, is a mere eight years old.

The uniqueness of the venue is the lead story, but the place holds the potential of an epic Open due to the game’s elite players playing their best right now. The tour could’ve scarcely scheduled the winners any better thus far to make the case for golf’s next generation.

What follows is our Open overview with predictions to follow from Maderas Director of Instruction Chris Mayson, who’s turning into something of a savant at this. He’s 2 for 2 in 2015 (Farmers, Masters) at picking the winner. Can he go 3 for 3? You’ll see in a few minutes.

On to the preview …

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1. Hello, Chambers Bay – Built on ground that used to be a gravel quarry, one that helped pave many Seattle streets and roads, Chambers is links-like. It only has one tree, thus making for a venue you’re used to seeing over the pond. But the elevation changes are what keeps it from being a true links. The course is truly a roller coaster right down to its complex greens, which make Maderas’ look downright flat. You get the impression Chambers will look like golf in a pinball machine. Will it drive the best golfers in the world to tilt?

2. U.S. Open or British Open? – Like Pinehurst a year ago, Chambers is a departure from the U.S. Open norm of deep rough beating the field into submission. You may recall that Martin Kaymer putted his way to victory at Pinehurst, choosing the flat stick repeatedly in green-side scenarios. A similar game plan could be one of the keys to victory at Chambers.

The course is one of the longest in Open history, but advance reports suggest that length might be mitigated by dry conditions that are allowing the ball to roll. Two weeks of pristine, and unseasonably dry, Seattle weather have made for a fast course.

Predicting a score at with no professional track record is tricky, but ESPN’s Andy North suggests the pros have already caught a break with calm winds in the forecast. With its teeth in, North suggested, even par or worse might win.

3. Spieth-Mode – The last time Jordan Spieth was seen in a major, he was at the Masters doing a Marshawn Lynch impersonation – unstoppable.

It’s continued to be his year on Tour and he’s a favorite again at Chambers for two reasons: His caddie knows the place and Spieth is one of the few to have played Chamber in competition (the 2010 U.S. Amateur).

Given the way his year is going, it’s nearly unfathomable to envision Spieth not in contention and if it comes down to putting, who would you take over him right now? Anybody? Some are suggesting he’s knocking on the door of being the best putter in Tour history.

4. The Case for Rory – On his way to becoming world No. 1 – Spieth is 2 – Rory shredded Muirfield a year ago to win the British. So clearly this style of golf suits him.

Is Rory ready to re-capture his major momentum in what’s been a bit of an up-and-down season for him? There’s no question he’s got the length. But can he find the consistency to put together four steady rounds during what might become, as many are suggesting, a war of attrition and supreme test of patience?

5. Creativity Counts – Many golfers, including Tiger, have talked about how many ways there are to play the holes at Chambers Bay. Andy North suggested it’d take “25 to 30” rounds to truly learn the place.

There’s an emphasis on creativity and there’s no more creative player on Tour than Phil Mickelson. Could Mickelson at his crafty best pull it off this week to complete the career Grand Slam?

Mickelson went T-2 at the Masters showing he can still get up for the majors. He’s a dark horse this week, but an under-the-radar Phil could be dangerous.

Now on to our expert … Chris Mayson.

Chris: From what I have heard from the PGA Tour players, it sounds like Chambers Bay is pretty long and open but will throw up some tricky tests around the green. I have a feeling that this will produce a random winner from outside the top 40 in the world. Maybe a European who is used to playing links golf?!

My safe pick is Rory McIlory. Very boring choice, but he grew up on links golf, he hits it long and straight and is clearly the best player in the world.