Letters to the Editor

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CHAMBERS BAY: Course is already a success

Letter by John W. Ladenburg Sr., Tacoma on Jan. 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm with 41 Comments »
January 21, 2011 1:45 pm

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.)

Leave a comment Comments → 41
  1. redneckbuck says:

    What a joke. Will people come from around the world to play in the rain and snow, hardly. The course has eaten up over 100 million dollars in sewer and other funds since the property was purchased for 40 million. Every you pay your sewer bill you are supporting the Chambers Bay golf complex. Every round of golf is subsidized to the tune of 38 bucks.

  2. I’m still trying to figure out how the 33,000 spectators at the recent Amateur all fitted into the 208 hotel rooms utilized here in Pierce County during our hosting of that event.
    So over 32,000 were locals who just returned to their homes?

  3. “OMG3 says:
    January 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm
    just wondering, is redneckbuck as ignorant as he sounds ?”

    From past postings and this one too, I can attest to the fact that your presumption is correct. His numbers are ridiculous and the use of what funds have been spent has been targeted with careful consideration for taxpayers in general and sewer rate payers in particular. Take a look at the new sewer work being done in that area for part of the answer.

  4. “The course has eaten up over 100 million dollars in sewer and other funds since the property was purchased for 40 million.”

    Since the course hasn’t been paid for yet, it can’t possibly have cost the sewer customers anywhere near 100 million dollars yet.

    So stop exaggerating.

    Landenburg does have a good point. The course was built as a tourist draw and to jump start building the park.

    At any rate, tourism brings in big money to the state and county. We know how much sales tax revenue the state, county and UP receives from the fees generated by the course itself. What we don’t know is how much money and taxes are generated off the course due to the course being there. I would be nice to have that information.

    Also, the US Open will generate a boat load of money too. How much the cities and county get to keep will depend on what we can offer to these spectators to keep them from going back to Seattle at night. Hopefully, a couple of new hotels will be built in time.

  5. “I’m still trying to figure out how the 33,000 spectators at the recent Amateur all fitted into the 208 hotel rooms utilized here in Pierce County during our hosting of that event.
    So over 32,000 were locals who just returned to their homes?”

    You need to stop making up numbers. There are far more rooms then 208.

    At any rate, businesses and local government need to do more if we are going to keep our fair share of the US Open tourist dollars.

  6. Pecksbadboy says:

    What is this guy smoking??????

    Voodoo economics and fuzzy math are all politicians can give.
    He should be barred from even posting here for posting of drivel is just a catharsis for his delusions.

    I am trying to hang on to my business in Pierce County but I doubt I will make it till the end of this year.

    I am afraid I can not sleep well at night unlike Mr. Lanenburg.

  7. puyallupmutt says:

    Typical Ladenberg BS. You wrecked Pierce County’s finances with the Chambers Bay debacle, you wrecked much of the beauty of Sumner and Bonney Lake with your pocket lining real-estate scam. Please just go away !

  8. mutt and badboy, where are your facts? Without them your comments are laughable. Sad because they are an indication of your ignorance about the issue, but laughable because they are so lame.

  9. slasmith says:

    It is wonderfull that Mr. Laddenburg has finally slipped so far into obscurity that he feels he must now serve as his own cheerleader with this rediculous letter.

  10. JudasEscargot says:

    rediculous, huh?


  11. puyallupmutt says:

    There is only one thing worse than scumbag lawyers and corrupt land developers. That is a land developer who is a scumbag lawyer.

  12. lovethemountains says:

    U.S. Open will bring in big bucks? Perhaps. But are you forgetting that the U.S. Open is a one time deal? What then?

  13. @redneckbuck: yes people come from all over the world to play that course. They currently have 2 people from Europe who came here to work at the course as interns…and they have maps with pins that poeple have placed to show where they came from. Pretty much every continent has dozens of pins on it. So just because you wouldn’t play there doesn’t mean that other people don’t. I play it with my husband (he works there) and i really enjoy the course….and i am not an avid golfer by any means. So, before you assume others won’t play, make sure you know the facts.

  14. redneckbuck says:

    Go to the course website and gander at all the available tee times…….Money Pitt, don’t get me wrong the course is incredible, but what a huge waste of money. The Tacoma school district is closing down schools, but at least the rich white people have a new golf course.

  15. fatuous:
    The number 208 for room rented during the Amateur were from the last TNT report on Chambers finances. In that article they said the reported number of hotel rooms rented IN PIERCE COUNTY for the Amateur was 208, despite the reported numbers of 33,000 attendees for this event.

    So I was curious if the rest of the attendees either were local and didn’t need to rent lodging or if the majority of revenue generated benefited the state and other counties and Pierce only got crumbs.

  16. BigSwingingRichard says:

    Here’s a cost no one is considering: how much in property taxes are not being collected because prime real estate for hundreds of luxury homes is just sitting there growing grass, every year, year after year?

  17. gerry0416 says:

    This golf course should be sold to the highest bidder. Pierce County has enough financial problems without spending money to finance a playground for the rich. It would be nice if the Landenburgs (John and Connie) would just pack up and leave.

  18. Frankly123 says:

    I disagree Mr. Ladenburg. I’m a golfer. I support the idea of Chambers Golf Course and its other public amenities. I’d rather see it there than condos or housing developments for the wealthier sect.

    But I contend you’re out of touch with the general population and an elitist. I disagree the course can be the economic tool on the scale you must think it will be. The U.S. Open will boost the course and area, but for a much shorter time than you believe, probably mostly in 2015 itself.

    The long term support and success of Chambers, I believe, depends on the local and regional golfers, us “muni’ golfers” as you might call us and not the Jet Setters. Sure, some may come, probably during the summer. Who do you think will be golfing here the other 6-9 months out of the year, each and every year?

    I’ve been to St. Andrews. I get the charm of the course, the fescue, the “links style” and I assure you that cart paths would not deter from it. I doubt it would cost “millions” to put in such paths and all you need do is implement and enforce a “cart path only” rule for all power carts and the fescue will be fine. If you felt we citizen/residents were good enough to borrow the money from, at least you can do is believe we deserve to be able to afford to golf the course.

  19. Concernedfather says:

    It is hard to trust any financial advice that is offered by someone who has such a poor track record.

    Who was the CFO of the biggest failed development in this county’s history?
    Look up Cascadia.

    Will the tax payers of Pierce County be left with a “World Class Course @ Chamber’s Bay”, or just be left holding the Chamberpot?

  20. Says the man who left 8 million off the county budge right as he was retiring. If it it “paying for it self then why is it in the red. Sign all the county employees who has since lost their jobs Because of you 8 miil ooopsee daisy

  21. Well Johnboy, it’s not according to the follwing web sites
    Golflinks.com, golf digest. golf magazine, golfinormation.info
    And if you go on the PGA web site were you can locate lake spanaway but not your Chambers bay that’s how forward they are to having the U.S open their must be top seceret. And when you search on the USGA I couldn’t locate any top 10 list

  22. idozy “fit” not “fitted”.

  23. Concernedfather says:

    beerBoy, the use of a comma after ldozy would change the sentence fragment you posted to reflect its’ intended meaning.

    Posting incomplete sentences, void of punctuation, will not help to further your self imposed image as the grammar police.

  24. harleyrider1 says:

    Wow John. You were never a great Prosecutor – but you had a great staff. You weren’t a great County Executive and at times, your staff seemed ill-prepared. You didn’t fare well as a CFO of your boondoggle in Bonney Lake. Are you spot on here? I know you love golf and you can afford to play golf more than the average guy – but remember you borrowed the money from the Sewer Fund which created a vast hole for the sewer rate payers and it is not going to get paid back. You took one of the finest pieces of land in the area and locked it down for your vision of what it should be with promises of what it would be for the tax payers.
    Okay, the taxpayers deserve it because they keep voting for the Ladenburgh’s. What was I thinking? Never mind. Idiots.

  25. Thanks Beerboy…

  26. Nearly everyone here is wrong about the cost, the reason for the land purchase and the intent of having a special golf course. Nobody has figured in the value of keeping a large space mostly green and available to thousands of people every week of the year.
    All this was done primarrily to have space to expand the sewer plant to double its current size and to improve the quality of the effulent that is allowed to empty into the sound. Part of the land space was designated for public use and to mostly pay for itself as opposed to being a County Park that required significant outlays every year forever. The land includes many acres along the sides of Chambers Creek for nearly a half mile and the beach access is priceless. It would have been difficult to find a developer who would have treated the property a well as the County has with the sewer facility so close. Who would have bought a house there, for example?
    The gripes I read here about Mr. Ladenburg all seem to be based on nebulous complaints that have more to do with people who don’t care about the quality of life the rest of us appreciate.

  27. nokoolaide says:

    Politicians are a funny breed.

  28. John, maybe you can get your wife to get the state to give back the sale tax money they collect on fees from golfing on the course so we can apply that to the loans.

    And while you’re at it, how about getting them to give back the sales tax collected in Pierce county during the golf tournament so we can apply that to the loans too.

  29. Rowdy_Rob says:

    What I got out of this (un)paid political announcement:

    I don’t like to toot my own horn, but “toot toot!”

  30. Let’s take a true measure of worth. Mr. Ladenburg accomplished more positive things for this County in 5 minutes than the detractors here have done in a lifetime in any effort, as far as we can tell. Can someone challenge that with factual evidence?

  31. redneckbuck says:

    Chambers Bay Masters Plan: Read Plan B

  32. Publico
    I’m sure it took landenburg 5 minutes to leave 8 million off the county budget which led to several hundred county employees to loose their jobs YEA Landenburg is great all right.

  33. How about if Ladenberg agrees to personally cover all financial losses from Chambers Creek GC for the next 5 years. After all, he scammed enough from the failed development in Bonney Lake to line his pockets.
    Let him put his own money where his mouth is.

  34. redneckbuck says:

    We should have had the “wide open green spaces” minus the 90 million dollar, rich white guy golf course.

  35. Lets all face it,Sheep were meant to be sheared and there are shearers to do just that!What catagory do you find yourself in?

  36. I like IQof 88s Sceneo

  37. aranciata says:

    This man has no shame what so ever. In fact it would be hard to find a Pierce/Tacoma politician who knows the meaning of the word.

    But, that being said, the voters (in the aggregate) deserve to reap what they have sewn. There is nothing to indicate to me that they have learned any lesson yet.

  38. It seems in Johns mind,all Pierce County has to do to solve their unemployment problem is build more golf courses.The courses will make Pierce County residents rich from all the money that will be pouring in from the golf course gold mine.I would like to see the average income figures of the 65% of the Pierce Countys Chambers Creek golf players.Then look at the income of the people that are paying for the eighth wonder of the world!

  39. commoncents says:

    toocan – Chambers Bay is currently ranked 13 by Golf Magazine (golf.com) in the category of top 100 courses you can play. Which means public courses…since the top 10 consists of the likes of the Bandon Dunes courses, Pebble Beach, Blackpage, Whistling Straits and the likes i would have to say that Chambers Bay compares favorably to the top courses in the world.

    Golf Digest (the other big magazine) ranked it as the top new public course in 2008. That’s number 1…not 2, 3, or 15…but 1. They also rank it 37 in top public courses and the #4 course in the state with the first 3 being private country clubs.

    given that the course is new, it’s not suprising that it wouldn’t be listed in many of the course finders. That doesn’t mean that the golf world is unaware about Chambers Bay. It’s being promoted exactly as Ladenburg and others would like…paired up with other top local courses to act as a destination golf draw.

    Is it worth the money spent? Only time will tell…but to say that the PGA and it’s members aren’t interested, or don’t consider it a quality course, or a destination draw? That’s rediculous. You simply didn’t know where or how to look. Golfers who travel know and find Chambers Bay quite easily.

  40. I’ve only played Chambers once, but my wife and I take the dog to the park there and utilize the walking/jogging trail. The place is always packed with people exercising and taking in the views. So I’m not sure why people are using the argument that it only benefits the wealthy. I hope that Chambers and the county do a good job with the Open in 2015, cause that could lead to more tournaments in the future and more exposure for the course. Which would lead to more $$$ for local businesses. I would like to read about how the golf course directly caused hundreds of county employees to lose their jobs…can anyone point me to the article. I think if people are patient the county will reap the rewards of having a top tier course. And I do agree that you can’t judge that based only on green fees.

  41. Nice letter, Lame-en-burg . Your comment comes across as totally arrogant, like you have all the answers, and it’s time to clear the air and put the little people in their place. Time will tell, because after the US Open ( if they still decide to even host it at this course), there is no way this operation will sustain itself. If it is everything that Lame-en-burg says it is, then where is all the financing he had lined up ? Boy did they bail out quick. Now you have a US Open considering a golf course that is using a mobile home for a clubhouse. Caddyshack ! Good luck, Captain of the SS Chambers Bay, a sinking ship.

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