In case you’ve noticed the constant chatter about birdies and bogies, or seen the sudden proliferation of golf bags around town, here’s why: Seattle has come down with a serious case of golf fever—and rightly so. The 2015 U.S. Open Championship (June 15–21; usopen.com), one of the world’s most iconic professional golf tournaments, is taking place at Chambers Bay Golf Course (*6320 Grandview Dr W, University Place; chambersbaygolf.com), just a 50-minute drive south of Seattle.
Built atop a former sand and gravel quarry along the south shores of Puget Sound, Chambers Bay draws inspiration from Scotland’s famous links courses. Golfers are treated to a challenging 18 holes with lush fairways and greens framed by native grasses, rolling dunes, and sweeping water views. It’s the first time the prestigious tournament has taken place in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s only the third time the championship will be played on a public course, affording visitors the opportunity to retrace the footsteps of this year’s U.S. Open winner by playing a round themselves.
Greater Seattle and, in fact, the entire state of Washington have seen an unprecedented boom in golf course construction and refurbishment over the past two decades. Acclaimed international architects have designed gorgeous links—many of them open to the public—throughout the region. For both players and fans, it’s a fantastic time to go golfing in Seattle.
While tickets to the championship rounds of the U.S. Open sold out in early 2015, it’s expected that tickets will still be available for the preceding Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday practice rounds right up until the event. Prices range from $50 for single-gallery tickets, allowing general entry to the grounds, on up to $250 for an all-inclusive 1895 Club ticket, which includes meals, bar services, air-conditioned seating along the 13th hole, and access to the live television broadcast. For full details, visit the U.S. Open website (usopen.com/knowbeforeyougo), which is also chock-full of pre-event tips and policies regarding everything from what you can and can’t bring through the gates to detailed course and parking maps.
If you already have tickets to the U.S. Open and are planning to drive, head out early—the gates open at 6am each day—on Interstate 5 south to reach University Place before the rush. No parking is available at Chambers Bay, but prominent signs will direct visitors to free, off-site parking at Fort Steilacoom Park and the Washington State Fairgrounds, where you can catch shuttles to and from the golf course throughout each day. Trips take about 30 minutes in each direction. Those requiring lift-equipped shuttles or accessible parking can get more information by calling 800-698-0661.
Thursday through Sunday, June 11–14, immediately prior to U.S. Open week, visitors can come to Chambers Bay and shop for official apparel and souvenirs in merchandise tents set up beside the clubhouse. And on Sunday, June 14, the course will host the U.S. Open Kickoff Celebration with family-friendly activities and a flag-raising ceremony to honor the region’s sizable military community. Keep in mind, too, that active military members receive free admission to all practice rounds, and children younger than 12 can gain complimentary access throughout the week with a paying parent.
Throughout championship week, golf fans without tickets can still get in on the U.S. Open action without even leaving Seattle. The Open For All Fan Experience, which takes place at Lake Union Park June 17–21, features a huge screen for watching live broadcasts of the tournament; an interactive Epic Putt Challenge, which lets fans take on the infamous 18th green at Chambers Bay and relive dramatic putts from U.S. Open history; and the Learning Science Through Golf exhibit, where visitors can delve into everything from the aerodynamics of a golf ball to the volume of a golf club. The U.S. Open Championship Trophy will also be on display and available for photo ops at the Fan Experience event. Visit usopen.com/openforall for viewing times and location information, plus live-score updates, bonus video footage, and other behind-the-scenes features. Or if you’re exploring around town but want to stay current on all the latest, download the U.S. Open app to your smartphone.
By the end of June, this stunning 18-hole course—designed by renowned golf architect Robert Trent Jones II in 2007—will reopen for public play. Greens fees run from $299 during the summer to $159 during the shoulder season, and tee times can be reserved as far as 90 days in advance.
Chambers Bay is unique in that motorized carts are not permitted on the course except for those with accessibility needs. When tackling these well-bunkered, fescue-grass fairways, carry your own bag, use a pull cart, or do as the course recommends and hire a caddy. Try the course’s excellent caddy program (around $80 per round), where knowledgeable caddies not only carry your clubs but also provide intel on yardage, hole qualities, and club selection. Given Chambers Bay’s many demanding doglegs, several greatly elevated tee boxes and greens, and sharply banked fairways, it’s likely you’ll appreciate insider advice from one of these seasoned local experts.
Didn’t pack your clubs? Chambers Bay has you covered there, too. Rent a set of woods, irons, and putters for $55 a day.
Even if you’re not a golfer, it’s still worth stopping by Chambers Bay for a stroll around the course and adjacent Chambers Creek Regional Park. Nature lovers can amble along 2.5 miles of public trails, including one that leads down to a pebbly beach. There’s also a promenade that affords magnificent views of the fairways and Puget Sound.
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U.S. Open Spectator Etiquette
Though Chambers Bay is deservedly basking in the international golf spotlight, there are several other outstanding courses in Seattle and the surrounding region. Here are a few more stunners to play, plus some conveniently located driving ranges.
Offering panoramic views of Puget Sound from several fairways, this course 25 miles north of Seattle will test any golfer’s mettle when it comes to courage and accuracy— treacherous water hazards come into play on every hole on the front nine. 11817 Harbour Pointe Blvd, Mukilteo; harbourpointegolf.com
Prepare for some sharp doglegs as well as tricky elevation changes on this gorgeously sculpted course with a stately Tudor-style clubhouse and a signature 18th finishing hole marked by a picturesque island green. *20414 121st Ave SE, Snohomish; echofallsgolf.com
Home to a pair of 18-hole layouts, Coal Creek and China Creek, this public course with an elegant clubhouse is favored by wildlife-watchers, too—it adjoins Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. *15500 Six Penny Ln, Newcastle; newcastlegolf.com
Known for its beautiful— though potentially frustrating—water hazards and exceptionally well-manicured greens and fairways, this John Fought–designed course hosts the University of Washington’s men’s and women’s teams. *14330 SE Husky
The newest of three Seattle Parks and Recreation courses—Jackson Park and Jefferson Park each have their devotees—this picturesque 18-holer with downtown and Elliott Bay views was designed by legendary architect H. Chandler Egan, of Pebble Beach fame. *West Seattle: 4470 35th Ave; *Jackson Park: 1000 NE 135th St; *Jefferson Park: 4101 Beacon Ave S; premiergc.com
The 115th U.S. Open Championship—and the first in the Pacific Northwest—takes place at Chambers Bay Golf Course this year. *6320 Grandview Dr W, University Place; chambersbaygolf.com
Hone your skills on driving ranges and practice greens around Seattle. Great options include Interbay Golf Center, with its 40 heated stalls, and University of Washington Golf Driving Range, featuring chipping and putting greens, plus 43 tees. *Interbay: 2501 15th Ave W; premiergc.com; UW Golf Driving Range: 4209 Mary Gates Memorial Dr NE; washington.edu/ima/golf
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