Sunday, June 14, 2015

115th US Open at Chambers Bay

After years of preparation, practice rounds begin tomorrow for the 2015 115th US Open Championship golf tournament. The promotional poster is full of iconic elements surrounding the Companionship;  Olympic Mountains, Tacoma Narrows Bridges, Salish Sea (Puget Sound), BNSF mainline, and of course the fairways.

The locomotive, painted BNSF colors, is numbered "2015" with the "USGA" logo painted on the machine room doors.

Now before you get upset that this rail Blog continually derails on non-rail topics, I have aggregated some interesting titbits* about the course not reported on by the media, which golfers, non-golfers, and rail fans may find interesting!

The course was designed and built on a 350 acre site once occupied by a gravel mine and cement factory.

Once the decision to reclaim the industrial site, conversion to a golf course was planned with the intention of making it attractive for a US Open Championship.

Artifacts from the mine and factory were deliberately incorporated into site, adding an "industrial" feeling to the venue.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe runs along the western boundary of the course. In the video, note the "artifacts" on the golf course. Northern Pacific pioneered this route along the Sound, later granting track rights to the Great Northern and Union Pacific.

BNSF Chamber's Bay Bridge 14, the unique Strauss Vertical Lift Bridge I wrote about several years ago, is about a mile south of the course.

By the Numbers 

•  Field: 156 players.
•  Purse: TBA ($9 million in 2014).
•  Defending champion: Martin Kaymer.
•  Estimated 250,000 spectators.
•  2,000 media.
•  18,000 grandstand seats.
•  4,500 volunteers

•  Length: 7,648 yards (average)
•  Course will play between 7,200 and 7,600 yards each day
•  Par: 70 (36-34 or 35-35)
•  Cut: Top 60 and ties after 36 holes.
•  Playoff (if necessary): 18 holes on June 22

I've heard several reporters saying the golf course is on the ocean; it's not, it's the Salish Sea, a.k.a Puget Sound. With McNeil Island in the background, a ship, having loaded logs in Olympia, is outbound for Japan, whilst a BNSF freighter passes the golf course.

Public access to the course is unique in that public hiking trails abound surrounding the course. For security reasons, the trails are temporarily closed during the tournament.

And to provide protected access to the beach, a USD 3.8M pedestrian overpass was built in 2010, providing protection from the 60 or so trains per day. (The train video clip was shot from this structure.)

Installing this overpass gives beachcombers the first access to this stretch of beach in more than 100 years!

There are many "back stories" of folks around the course renting out rooms in their homes, some even their homes, camping space in back yards, and parking space on their property, to cash in on the limited space at the golf course.

More outrageously, renters near the course have been evicted, so that landlords can fill properties with out of townees looking for nearby accommodations!  American greed knows no limits!

One of the parking areas is 12 miles from University Place. Located in Puyallup, folk face a 30 minute shuttle bus commute, depending on local traffic.

The best news of all is that the region is in the midst of a mini-heat wave, so there should be some spectaculars suntans at the end of the week!

And most certainly a win-win for golf fans and rail fans!


•  US Open Spectator Information Guide (PDF 4MB)
•  Course Designer, award winning Robert Trent Jones II.
•  The reason so many folk are upset with the increase in Oil Unit Trains — often referred to as "Bomb Trains."
* Tidbit vs Titbit

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