This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.
It’s safe to exhale now, Pierce County. Chambers Bay seems to have passed its first big test with flying colors.
The county-owned golf course in University Place received rave reviews from participants in the U.S. Amateur, which ended Sunday, as well as from U.S. Golf Association officials and visiting media.
“Fun” was a word commonly used by the young players, many of whom had little experience playing on more challenging Scottish links-style courses with their uneven fairways, thick roughs, and lack of trees and water hazards.
“I think this place hit a home run this week,” gushed Golf Channel announcer Steve Burkowski.
It helped that the final Sunday featured two of the hottest amateur players in the world, David Chung and eventual winner Peter Uihlein. And the weather cooperated – it never got too hot, and the high winds and rains predicted for today held off. Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains made for a spectacular backdrop, and passing boat traffic and trains added to the visuals.
The tournament – held this year in the Pacific Northwest for the first time – brought welcome publicity to Chambers Bay, which reports a bump in out-of-area reservations. And it might even make a profit.
Not that everything went perfectly. Before the U.S. Open comes to Chambers Bay in 2015, the course will need some tweaking to accommodate the pros’ game and crowds that could be 10 times larger.
Course officials need to focus more attention on crowd safety. The steep terrain was difficult for many spectators to negotiate in a relatively dry August, and there were some minor injuries. It’s expected to be even more challenging for the Open, which will be held in June – a month when the weather can be unpredictable around here, to say the least.
Minor glitches aside, the way the event came off is rightly a source of pride for Pierce County residents, officials, course employees and the many volunteers who helped make it go as smoothly as it did.
Good job, everyone.