Glendora, CA – Nestled on the shores of the Puget Sound south of Tacoma, Washington, golf professionals from around the world are converging on Chambers Bay Golf Course, University Place, WA in quest of winning the 2015 U.S. Open Championship, one of golf’s most coveted titles. The 115th edition of the U.S. Open Championship, will be the first time the tournament is held in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. With its majestic grasses and rolling dunes, Chambers Bay will truly challenge the professionals over the four day and 72 hole competition. Inspired by the windswept, seaside locales in the British Isles where golf truly began, Chambers Bay Golf Course is a treeless links style course of rolling, steep hills, with greens tucked in among large sand dunes. Did I say treeless, I meant to say with one signature fir tree tucked out of play just behind the 15th hole.
Construction on the golf course began in the fall of 2005 and Chambers Bay opened for play in June 2007. It was selected as the host of the 2010 U.S. Amateur Championship and the 2015 U.S. Open Championship in 2008, within the first year after the course opened for business. However, thousands of years before the property was even being thought about as a golf destination, Mother Nature was preparing the site for its future roles. Over a few million years, Puget Sound was carved and scoured by glaciers. As recent as 15,000 years ago, when glaciers still covered most of the Pacific Northwest, what is now known as Chambers Bay, was beneath nearly 3,000 feet of thick glacial ice. The Vashon Glacier occupied much of the Seattle area as far south as Olympia, and when it finally began to recede 11,000 years ago it dragged rock and gravel with it, scouring and creating the current landscape. As the material was dragged it was tumbled and crushed under tremendous pressure from thousands of tons of ice. By the time the front reached the Puget Sound, what survived the journey was hard, clean glacial aggregate. A large deposit of that aggregate occupies the shores of south Puget Sound, on the land that is now Chambers Bay Golf Course.
As recent as the late 1800s, after all of the suitable lumber had been harvested, mining operations began harvesting the gravel on this site blessed with more abundant natural mineral resources. The rock from the quarry was so strong and pure, due to the glacial activity, that it set the regional construction standard for aggregate used in the production of concrete. For most of the twentieth century the mining operations produced valuable construction materials to handle the demand of regional expansion where it was distributed throughout the Puget Sound region by truck, rail, and barges. The mining operation changed hands several times over the century from Martin Sand and Gravel, Pioneer Aggregates, Lone Star Northwest to Glacier Northwest (a CalPortland Company). Pierce County purchased a piece of the property in 1979 to construct a much needed wastewater treatment plant for local communities. When Pierce County purchased the remainder of the site near the turn of the millennium the site had yielded more than 165 million tons of aggregate that helped to build much of the City of Seattle and the surrounding region. The property was developed into what is now a world class golf destination.
Chambers Bay clearly illustrates the versatility of a natural resource such as a former sand and gravel quarry that can be reclaimed to provide natural beauty, public recreation, drive tourism and fuel the regional economy. The story of the genesis and development of this great golf course is testimony of how raw materials from a former sand and gravel quarry supplied the rapidly expanding Puget Sound region with over one century of sustainable construction materials and then through a well-developed reclamation strategy went on to serve a higher purpose continuing to provide value to future generations.