Chambers Bay Profitable in 2008

March 02, 2009

Interesting story in Sunday's edition of the Tacoma News Tribune on Chambers Bay Golf Course, summing up the financial health of the Robert Trent Jones III masterpiece in the wake of its stunning coming-party in 2008: being awarded the 2015 U.S. Open and the 2010 U.S. Amateur.

Pierce County officials told the paper a mostly positive story: Chambers Bay made a profit of about $47,000, on revenues of about $6 million. The public facility, in just its second season of existence, logged 38,437 rounds played (it had budgeted for 37,000), despite being closed for most of December because of heavy snowfall in the Pacific Northwest.

"Overall, we're very pleased with the performance of the course throughout 2008," Tony Tipton, Chambers Bay's project manager, told the News Tribune. "There were ups and downs, definitely."

The sluggish economy has Tipton taking a cautious view of 2009. He projects rounds played at Chambers Bay to drop slightly (to 36,500), and the facility is already experiencing a slight drop in food and beverage sales. This is also going to be a busy construction year for Chambers Bay: a new practice range is being built, modifications are being done to the course, and the conditioning throughout is being upgraded -- all in preparation for the upcoming national championships (and paid for by a $985,000 advance from the USGA).

But it should be a worthwhile investment. A recent economic study estimated that the U.S. Open will generate $122 million for the local economy.

-- G.R.