“Chambers Bay will forever have the moniker of a U.S. Open course. Since World War II, only 27 active courses have that moniker. From my perspective, no higher honor could have been given.” — Course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr.With the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay Golf Course at University Place, Washington, just a few weeks away, all the last-minute preparations to ready the course for the world stage are complete, and the show is about to begin. In addition to the 100 million who will be watching this major golf championship on TV from around the world, the United States Golf Association estimates that more than 250,000 people will attend the event June 15-21.
We’ve all used a funnel or shoehorn at times in our lives, and shuttling people to and from the golf course will be a similar effort since parking in and around Chambers Bay will be severely restricted. However, visitors are encouraged to use any of the 21,000 free parking spots available at either the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup or Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood. When traffic is flowing normally on Interstate 5, Chambers Bay is just 60 minutes from downtown Seattle, and 40 minutes from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.Once you park your vehicle, you are still several miles from the course, but there will be a fleet of 290 buses providing free transportation to Chambers Bay. Shuttles will run continuously beginning at 5:30 a.m. each day of the championship, including the Monday-through-Wednesday practice rounds. The last shuttle will leave the golf course one hour after play ends each day.
Washington golf options
It’s no secret that when the U.S. Open comes to town, area golf courses attempt to showcase their tracks in hopes of attracting new visitors. Correspondingly, green fees also see a spike before, during and after a U.S. Open tournament. The Puget Sound region of Seattle-Tacoma will be no different. Some courses in the Chambers Bay area have already increased their green fees two- and three-fold. Aside from that fact, there are several area golf courses in the Puget Sound region worth exploring.
At last count, Washington State had nearly 330 public and private golf courses. One of the gems in Pierce County is The Home Course, a few miles from Chambers Bay in the tiny village of DuPont. This public course is a par 72, and measures 7,424 yards from the tips. The Home Course is cooperatively owned and operated by the Washington State Golf Association and the Pacific Northwest Golf Association; it features breathtaking views of Mt. Rainier.
There are several courses that fall into everybody’s Top 10 list in the state. Chambers Bay has easily held the number one ranking in Washington for the last few years. Other quality courses in the Puget Sound area that are less than an hour from Chambers Bay include Salish Cliffs (located in Shelton), the Olympic Course at Gold Mountain (in Bremerton), Trophy Lake (Port Orchard), and Washington National (Auburn). There are several gems in central and eastern Washington that require a road trip, but are worth the drive, including Wine Valley (Walla Walla), Gamble Sands (Brewster), Palouse Ridge (Pullman), Suncadia–Prospector and Rope Rider (Cle Elum), and Desert Canyon (Orondo). In addition to its highly touted golf course, Salish Cliffs features an upscale 44-space RV resort and casino.
One thing that first-time visitors to the Evergreen State should know is that the weather is much warmer in the eastern half of the state. The area east of the Cascade Mountain Range has more than 300 days of sunshine a year. Not surprisingly, golfers from the west side of the state routinely head east to enjoy the sun, good golf, great wine and more sun. Last year, for example, my brother Larry and his golf buddies did just that. Renting an RV, they headed out from Seattle en route to Gamble Sands, which opened last summer. This fabulous course, overlooking the Columbia River, without question rivals Chambers Bay. It is worth the three-hour drive. Did I mention there was sun over there, and lots of fabulous wineries?
With just over 800 wineries, Washington is second in the country in wine production behind only California. Most of those wineries can be found on the east side of the state including in Yakima and the Tri-Cities of Kennewick, Pasco and Richland. Don’t miss the par 3, apple-shaped island green at Apple Tree Golf Course in Yakima. Sun Tides Golf Course in Yakima also has an RV park with 60 spaces. Also, the Tri-Cities area offers 10 quality courses, several overlooking the Columbia River. RVers will love Horn Rapids Golf Club in Richland, because directly across the street is Horn Rapids RV Resort featuring 225 full-hookup sites. Another fabulous RV-golf resort is in the Spokane area, nearly 300 miles east of Seattle. Spokane RV Resort and Deer Park Golf Club provide a great combination of an 18-hole golf course and a five-star RV resort that caters to big rigs. Check it out at deerparkgolf.com.
For some, the U.S. Open is the main reason for visiting Washington state this summer. However, extending your stay can be a golf adventure all its own.
And finally, for those who want to experience the same golf course where PGA professionals will make history in mid-June, Chambers Bay will reopen to the public on Friday, June 26.
Enjoy the 115th U.S. Open.
Spectators will be allowed to bring cellphones and other small mobile devices to the U.S. Open, but the devices cannot be longer or wider than seven inches and must be silent or set to vibrate. Phone calls must be placed or answered only in designated “Phone Zones” around the Chambers Bay golf course.
During practice rounds, spectators will be allowed to take photographs with cameras or phones. No audio or video recording will be allowed at any time.
Backpacks, briefcases and bags larger than six inches long by six inches wide by six inches deep are prohibited. (Spectators will be allowed to carry personal items in clear plastic hand or shoulder bags no larger than 12 inches wide by 12 inches long by six inches deep.)
There is a long list of other items that cannot be brought in, including computers and tablets, weapons, lawn chairs, metal-spiked golf shoes, and food and beverages, except those for medical or infant needs.
Rick Stedman is an avid golfer, RVer and writer. Rick writes a weekly golf blog, “The 19th Hole,” which is published every Saturday at rvlife.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. Rick will be inside the ropes during the U.S. Open.