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A little over three hours’ drive from my doorstep, maybe another 25 minutes from downtown Spokane? Doable. Scenic? Try gorgeous. Affordable? Check, particularly with the favorable exchange rate.
St. Eugene meets all the requirements of a destination golf course. And then some.
Wildstone was on my good side before I took my first swing. We drove past seven deer meandering through the trees adjacent to the entrance road.
Shadow Mountain has 19 holes – a par-3 19th was built on some extra land near the 17th green – and several, particularly Nos. 15 and 17, will reserve space in your memory long after putting the sticks in the trunk.
We’ve updated our annual directory of area golf courses with contact information, greens fees and convenient web links.
You’ll probably see the phrase “ribbon tees” in print or hear it during the telecast of the U.S. Open. It refers to tee boxes and the surrounding area being cut at the same length so they essentially run together with little or no variance. “They kind of meander and allow us to put tee markers where we want,” USGA executive director Mike Davis said.
Ask Chambers Bay director of agronomy Eric Johnson if the course will be brown, green or a mixture of both for the U.S. Open and he’ll defer to Mother Nature. “Ask the weatherman,” he said. “I hope it’s dry, that way we can control if we want it green or not, but June can give us anything.”
Roughly 120 yards from the 18th green rests a wicked, sunken bunker nicknamed “Chambers Basement.” It figures to could come into play more when the hole is played as a par 5 in the 600-yard range as opposed to a par 4 from a shorter distance. It was one of the additions recommended by USGA executive director Mike Davis following the 2010 U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay.
UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – United States Golf Association executive director Mike Davis takes these phone calls all the time. It usually begins with someone telling Davis, “I’ve got the perfect U.S. Open course for you.” It usually leads to nothing of the sort, rarely advancing beyond the original call.
Symbolic of Chambers Bay’s flexibility, Nos. 1 and 18 will alternate as par 4s and par 5s. For example, if No. 1 is set up as a 496-yard par 4, the 18th will be played as a 604-yard par 5. The following day, No. 1 might be a 598-yard par 5 and No. 18 will measure 525 yards as a par 4. That will keep par at 70 but offer an interesting change to the daily set-up. The course will be set from 7,200-7,600 yards, depending on weather, wind, hole locations, etc., another indicator of Chambers Bay’s versatility.
With each passing day before the U.S. Open in June, Robert Trent Jones Jr. becomes more popular with professional golfers. “They’re certainly inquisitive,” said Jones, whose company designed Chambers Bay near Tacoma. Defending U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer “and I had a chat at Augusta. He was asking a lot of questions and I was happy to help him.”
John Ladenburg didn’t take up golf until he was in his early 50s. Slow-pitch softball was his game and he played for the Family, featuring his eight brothers and assorted relatives. The former Pierce County executive hit a grand slam with Chambers Bay outside of Tacoma, which will host the U.S. Open next month. The gorgeous links course, the U.S. Open, perhaps the biggest sporting event ever held in the Pacific Northwest – none of it would have happened without Ladenburg’s vision, determination, and political acumen.
More than 21,000 satellite parking spots will be available at two primary lots. Parking and shuttle service to the championship grounds are free. Nearly 300 shuttle buses will run continuously from 5:30 a.m. each day and continue for one hour following the conclusion of play. Spectators traveling from points north and east of Chambers Bay, which is located in University Place, will be directed to the Red lot (Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup). The shuttle ride to the course is expected to be 30 minutes. Spectators traveling from points south and west of the course will be directed to the Blue lot (Fort Steilacoom State Park in Lakewood) for an expected shuttle ride of 25 minutes.
If you’ve played Chambers Bay, you’re familiar with the dramatic elevation changes. The par-3 ninth provides a perfect example. The scenic hole originates from one of the highest points on the property and features a 100-foot drop from the upper tee boxes to a large, wavy green. It plays between 168 and 227 yards. “Like a parachute shot,” USGA executive director Mike Davis said.
Goodbye Dan Hicks, Johnny Miller and Roger Maltbie. Hello Joe Buck, Greg Norman and Juli Inkster. Fox spent $1 billion for the rights to televise 12 years of USGA championships, including the U.S. Open. NBC had aired the national championship since 1995.
There will be bleacher seating for 18,000 at various locations on the course. If the tournament comes down to the final hole on Sunday, there will be 5,834 grandstand seats on No. 18, the most in U.S. Open history. If you’d prefer focusing on one hole, the scenic No. 16, which can range from a drivable 279 yards to 423 and is bordered to the west by Puget Sound, will have two grandstands. Numerous other locations will offer views of multiple holes.
It wasn’t a typical 18-hour day – 3-hour drive, 18 holes of golf, food, another 18 holes, more food and a 3-hour drive home. But it was worth every minute and every mile.
Rope Rider is billed as being slightly easier than Prospector. That’s probably true on a calm day, but it didn’t seem that way when the wind picked up midway through the front nine. Still, Rope Rider simply has an enjoyable feel to it. It’s a tad more open than Prospector and the contours of the greens and bunkers aren’t quite as severe.
This scenic track isn’t quite as long as Rope Rider, but what it lacks in length it makes up for with plentiful bunkers and complex greens. We played the back tees, measuring 6,641 yards. From the tips, Prospector stretches out to 7,112 yards. Two other tee boxes check in at 6,159 and 5,362 yards. “All 18 holes are built on mountain, foothill terrain and every hole has its own playing quarters,” director of golf Brady Hatfield said. “The green complexities make Prospector challenging.”
Area LPGA Tour ties Former Washington State Cougar Kim Welch earned her 2013 LPGA Tour card by finishing tied for 11th with ex-Idaho Vandal Kayla Mortellaro at Qualifying School in early December. Welch, who played in LPGA events in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012, has played in three tournaments this season but has yet to make a cut.