The US Golf Association (USGA) is holding its 115th annual US Open at Chambers Bay in University Place, June 15 - 21, 2015. More than 235,000 people are estimated to visit Pierce County during that seven-day event. It is the first-ever US Open in the Northwest.
“This will be a transformational event for Tacoma,” says Bennish Brown, president + CEO, Travel Tacoma + Pierce County, during the Travel Tacoma annual meeting.
The USGA has planned 114 opens and on it’s 115th, it had not ever seen the likes of people from Pierce County. When the website opened for volunteer registration to help during the US Open, 5,000 volunteers signed up within the first 12 hours, causing the website to crash – temporarily.
“It was an all-time record for volunteer sign-ups,” said John Bodenhamer, senior managing director, USGA. “People are excited about this event,” he said. Ticket sales went quickly too.
It is estimated that the US Open will bring $144 million dollars to the local economy.
Local boy does well
Bodenhamer grew up within 10 minutes of Chambers Bay in Steilacoom. He’s very excited to return to his hometown and the Northwest. “It is truly a passion for me to come home,” said Bodenhamer.
Bodenhamer’s task for the US Open involves long-time planning. As for the course decisions, he’ll rely on science – led by USGA agronomists. “It’s the first major played on fine fescue,” said Bodenahmer. “Preparation of the course depends on moisture and wind; it’s weather dependent.”
Public golf course designed by architect
When John W. Landenburg was executive of Pierce County, he and his team established Chambers Bay golf course. Landenburg and was a visionary; he saw the land – a former sand and gravel mine alongside a sweeping waterfront view -- as a potentially beautiful golf course. During the annual Travel Tacoma meeting in March, Landenburg received the Tacoma Visionary award for his achievement. led The unique course was designed by Architect Robert Trent Jones II. Construction of the course began in 2006 and the course opened June 23, 2007.
The course is different from other golf courses we are used to in the Pacific Northwest: there are few green lawns, no houses surrounding the course, and the public can walk nearby. The Chambers Bay course has tawny fescue grasses, towering sand dunes, massive fairways, and breathtaking views of the Puget Sound and snow-capped Olympic mountains. Chambers Bay brings the traditions of Scottish linksland to the Pacific Northwest.
It’s no wonder that Chambers Bay is a popular place to get married. The stunning, sweeping view overlooking Puget Sound is breathtaking. There’s a large patio for outdoor weddings and a huge tent for wedding receptions.
The area was first used as a rock quarry by the Steilacoom Indian tribe and the first European settlers in 1832. Through the years, the Chambers Creek properties have been used for a paper mill, a major industrial center, multiple lumber companies, a railroad center, a sand and gravel mine, a bus barn, a regional wastewater treatment plant, a preservation and recreational area, and today, as a world class 18-hole championship golf course.
Who plays golf during the US Open?
“More than 10,000 people apply to enter the USGA Open,” said Bodenhamer. The initial entries are whittled to 900, then 80-90 and then 70-80 and so on.
By the numbers
With 235,00 people coming to the area, there will be 70 to 80 of the best rules officials on site, according to Bodenhamer. There will be 2,000 credentialed media from 87 countries for world-wide media coverage. There will be seating for 18,000 people in the grandstands.
FOX network will show 40 hours of live coverage of the US Open. Bodenhamer said FOX TV will show the golf course from the players’ perspectives bringing the viewer into the game. The network will use drones for TV coverage, too. More than 50 miles of cable will be placed for TV. The USGS anticipates more than 50 million page views on the US Open website.
Photos by Jerome Tso and Wallflower Photography.
Click on a photo to enlarge.
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