The crescendo of excitement is building at Chambers Bay as final preparations continue toward that initial tee time on the morning of June 18 when the U.S. Open officially gets under way. It’s been a long process since February 2008, when the USGA awarded the 115th U.S. Open to the Pierce County, Washington, municipal golf course. Joining Torrey Pines and Bethpage Black, Chambers Bay is only the third muni to receive the honor of hosting this prestigious event.
Chambers Bay is not a household name—yet. But soon, the course will be under the intense scrutiny of 100 million viewers in 180 countries. As such, here are some little-known facts about the area:
- Chambers Bay is located in a tiny 8.5-square-mile hamlet called University Place, a few miles southwest of Tacoma. In 2015, University Place will celebrate its 20th anniversary as a city—and has invited the entire world to help with the celebration! Though plans to build a school of higher education were kicked around on a few occasions, there is no university within the confines of University Place.
- With hole names like Deception Point, Humpback, Eagle Eye, Olympus, The Narrows and Tahoma, the course pays homage to the region’s geographic features and wildlife species. Hole 15, for example, is called Lone Fir in reference to the Douglas fir that is the only tree on the course. Many visitors consider this the signature hole, though course officials pride themselves on not having just one signature hole, since they say all the holes fall into that category. You be the judge.
- The course was certified by Audubon International as a Silver Signature Sanctuary in 2007, becoming the only such course in the Pacific Northwest. Silver Signature Sanctuary certification is awarded to new developments that are designed, constructed and maintained according to Audubon International’s planning standards and environmental disciplines.
- In addition to being a true links course, Chambers Bay has a unique setting and history. It sits within an area of more than 900 acres that served as a gravel pit for more than 100 years. About 250 acres are devoted to the golf course, which was designed by Robert Trent Jones II. It features Puget Sound as a backdrop, with the layout winding through a classic coastal setting among wind-swept dunes and native fescue grasses. The course offers panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains and neighboring Anderson, McNeil and Fox islands.
- The area’s history dates to the Steilacoom Indian Tribe centuries ago, and the arrival of the first European settlers in 1832. Over the last 200 years, the area has seen many uses, including a paper mill, a match company, a major industrial center, multiple lumber companies, a railroad center, a county gravel mine, a bus barn, a regional wastewater treatment plant, a preservation and recreational area, and today a golf course.
- According to the USGA, an estimated 235,000 people will attend the championship during the week of June 15-21. There will be practice rounds Monday through Wednesday followed by the four-day competition, starting Thursday. In case of a tie, like at Torrey Pines in 2008, an 18-hole playoff will be conducted on Monday.
- As far as TV coverage, don’t bother scanning NBC or CBS for the U.S. Open schedule. In 2015, the USGA’s national championships will be televised by Fox Sports, yes, Fox Sports. In August 2013, the USGA announced a comprehensive multi-media agreement that makes the FOX network and FOX Sports 1 the principal domestic media partner of the USGA and the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open, and U.S. Senior Open championships, as well as the USGA’s national amateur championships and other live content, beginning this year. The landmark 12-year agreement runs through 2026.
America’s St. AndrewsThe intriguing story of how Chambers Bay was able to attract one of the most coveted events in the sports world is told in the book America’s St. Andrews. Published in September 2014, the book was written by longtime newspaper sportswriter Blaine Newnham and edited by Tom Cade, who is also editor of Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine.
The book contains stunning photographs of the transformation of a sand and gravel mine into a venue to host the biggest sporting event in Northwest history. America’s St. Andrews tell how it all happened, from Thomas Chambers chasing away the Canadians in the 1800s to Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg chasing—and implausibly catching—a dream in the 2000s.
The stunning photographs throughout the book are from a talented trio of photographers: Rob Perry, Jason Mercio and Chris Anderson. Priced at $39.95, America’s St. Andrews is a hardbound coffee table book with a dust jacket, 12 inches wide by 9 inches high, containing 160 pages, and 182 photos and images. The book is available in stores, online, and on the book’s website: AmericasStAndrews.com. It will also be sold at the U.S. Open in the merchandise tent. St. Andrews is used in the title of the book with the written permission of St. Andrews Links Trust, the charitable organization that manages the seven public golf courses in St. Andrews, Scotland.
In the June RV Golfer Column
For those attending the U.S. Open, next month’s column will offer specific recommendations on golf courses to play while visiting the Evergreen State of Washington. Two of these courses actually rival Chambers Bay. (Note: if anyone is interested in renting a house or townhouse near Chambers Bay, drop me a line.)
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.