News & ToursMay 19, 2015

A flotilla protesting 'bomb trains' planned for final round of U.S. Open

Players dissatisfied with the rub of the green at Chambers Bay apparently won't be the only protesters at the U.S. Open next month.

Several groups — Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Backbone Campaign, and the People's Climate Action Fleet — are planning an offshore environmental protest during the final round of the Open.

"Join the People's Climate Action Fleet, Sunday- June 21, 2015 off the coast of the Chambers Bay Golf Course in Pierce County," the Olympia Fellowship website says. "Bring all your watercraft - kayaks, canoes, sailboats, and power boats…

"More than two hundred thousand people will attend the tournament and one hundred million more will watch the action on television. This is our chance to bring a dramatic climate justice message to the attention of a national and international audience."

U.S. Open Protest.jpg

What they're protesting are "explosive oil trains," what they're also calling "bomb trains," that are transporting oil to refineries and using the railroad tracks that run along the shore adjacent to the golf course. They plan banners with messages such as"Stop the Oil Trains" and "Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground." How keeping fossil fuels in the ground is reconciled with power boats is a debate for another day.

Pierce County, meanwhile, has established a 1,000-yard safety zone off shore during the Open week, according to MyNorthwest.com.

"One of the chief attractions of the golf course is the spectacular view of the Salish Sea, Fox Island, McNeil Island and the Olympic Mountains," the Olympic Fellowship says. "We hope to steer our fleet of boats, kayaks, tribal canoes and a barge, with signs, kites and balloons carrying our message, into the middle of that view."

It won't be the first time a protest has been held at the U.S. Open. The most memorable one, mostly for a one-liner delivered by Lee Trevino, occurred at Pebble Beach in 1972, when a group of what were described in one account as "scruffy youngsters" chained themselves to the Monterey Pine in the fairway at the 18th hole. They were protesting the Vietnam war.

As Jack Nicklaus made his way up the 18th fairway, his playing partner Lee Trevino turned to Nicklaus and offered a solution.

"Put a match to that tree and the key will appear mighty fast," Trevino said.

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