Chambers Bay shoots for the stars

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By Sean Dudley

One of the most eagerly awaited course openings of 2007 is set to take place in June in Washington, USA. The Chambers Bay golf course, carved from a huge former gravel mine by architects Bruce Charlton and Jay Blasi of Robert Trent Jones II, has already been touted as a possible future venue for high-level tournament golf.

A public development by Pierce County, the Chambers Bay golf course sits on a 930 acre property overlooking Puget Sound, close to Seattle. The site was acquired by the county a decade ago, and plans to develop it into a golf course were in the making long before a formal request for proposals (RFP) was issued.

With pure sand to a considerable depth, the potential of the site led to many architects seeking the commission. "There were around 50-60 responses to the RFP," said Charlton. "It was a pretty competitive process! One of the real advantages was that the county had maintained a mining permit throughout, so we faced no grading restrictions whatsoever." Charlton and Blasi put this freedom to good effect, moving more than 1.4 million cubic yards of sand during the construction phase.

Pierce County executive John Ladenburg was the driving force behind the project. "A marine shoreline, treecovered islands and the Olympic Mountains create a setting unrivalled in our part of the country," he said. "We've been told there are few comparable sites in the United States, and that we'll have the type of golf course people will come from great distances to play." "John Ladenburg told us that he wasn't interested in having a good golf course on this site, but that he wanted a great one that would draw players to the area from all over," said Charlton. "And he was fascinated by links golf. The success of Bandon Dunes has opened the eyes of US golfers to this kind of golf, and we were determined to build something along the same lines here at Chambers Bay.

"The RFP originally called for a 27-hole complex, but we persuaded John that we should aim for the best possible 18 hole course. As part of our pitch, we had some bag tags made that said 'US Open – Chambers Bay 2030,' and I really think the course has that kind of potential." Kemper Sports has been appointed to manage the facility.

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