Let’s clear the air about Chambers Bay Golf Course.
First, putting golf carts and paths on the course should never happen. To do so would require millions of dollars of remodeling to greens and approaches, ruining the “true links” design. It would also kill the fescue grasses, another unique feature of the course.
Lastly it is clear that doing so would destroy the very features that have made the course one of the top 10 courses in America and would likely result in the cancellation of the U.S. Open. That tournament will produce about $150 million in economic development for our state, more than seven times the cost of the course.
Concerning whether it is “losing money,” the right question is not being asked. The course was designed and built as an economic development tool, not as a local “muni.” It cannot be evaluated like a local recreational golf course only on the greens fees it collects. Local courses don’t draw people from around the world.
In order to determine if it is working, you need to add all the extra sales tax, hotel-motel tax, admissions tax and jobs it creates to the money paid directly to the course. With 65 percent of the players from out of Pierce County and 40 percent from out of state, it is more than paying for itself right now.
(Ladenburg is a former Pierce County executive.)