Dirt is moving at Chambers Bay, the 250-acre golf course under construction on the northern half of the Chambers Creek Properties in University Place. Completion is scheduled for October 2006 with the course being open for play in May 2007. A ground-breaking ceremony was held in early October at which public officials from Pierce County and University Place touted the positive impacts the course will have on the regional economy.
Kemper Sports Management of Northbrook, Ill., will operate the facility. Heritage Links of Houston, which has completed golf projects in the U.S., Mexico, Asia, Middle East and Caribbean, will build the course.
“The attributes of this site are so tremendous that down the road people will look back and say what a wonderful judgment call was made by those responsible for acquiring the property for the public’s enjoyment,” County Executive John Ladenburg said during the ground breaking ceremony. “Much like the citizens of Tacoma who created Point Defiance Park and Wright Park, this is a site that is going to be remembered for a long time.”
University Place Mayor Ken Grassi noted that the County Council wasn’t unanimous in supporting Ladenburg’s golf course proposal. “That’s a good thing. It instills trust in the minds of the citizens we serve. They can know that all of the views were heard and all of their thoughts were represented and that any project of this scale doesn’t come without risk,” he said. “Selfishly, we are excited about having this incredible addition within the City of University Place. We understand the importance of developments . . . that are going to create the regional attractions that not only will bring people here the first time but ensure their return.”
Ladenburg said that although the golf course is the site’s focal point at this early stage, Chambers Creek Properties will feature miles of trails, acres of beach front, a fishing pier larger than the Les Davis pier on Ruston Way, a boat launch, environmental education center, adjacent state-owned fish hatchery and other non-golf attractions.
“The golf course is going to be the economic engine that starts the process working,” he said. “And, because of the world-class reputation of Robert Trent Jones Jr., golfers will come here from across America and other countries to see and play the fabulous golf course he designed for us.”
Ladenburg referred to a PGA tournament held this fall at the Harding Park municipal golf course in San Francisco that returned $23 million to the local economy. “If we can attract one tournament every five years, it would be like adding a major employer to Pierce County,” he said.
The site for Chambers Creek Properties was purchased in December 1992 at the conclusion of former County Executive Joe Stortini’s two terms in office. The additional land was needed for expansion of the county’s Chambers Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. Former County Executive Doug Sutherland, who followed Stortini, created the 50-year Chambers Creek Properties Master Site Plan and began implementing it.
Bruce Charlton, president and chief design officer for Robert Trent Jones II, said the Chambers Bay site provided the opportunity to design a golf course that combines California’s Pebble Beach and Scotland’s St. Andrew’s at one location. “You’re going to play a kind of golf here that I don’t think can be experienced quite the same any place in the state of Washington,” he said. “The closest parallel would be in Bandon Dunes on the Oregon coast.” His team, including project designer Jay Blasi, designed the course to maximize the views from the site, which affords a 230-foot elevation change. “We really studied our routing of the golf holes and the direction they go to take advantage of this beautiful parcel of land,” he said.