So much of our time has been spent trying to figure out a viable infrastructure for pro sports leagues in our area, from the NBA to the NHL.
Even NASCAR, whose hopes of a first-class track to accommodate a Monster Series race in Kitsap County died ten years ago because of opposition from local officials and the state legislature. No surprise there.
But this weekend’s U.S. Open was a reminder of Chambers Bay two years ago – and the success story it was in terms of local interest and revenue. From my perspective, the massive outpouring of fan support for our national championship – the pride we all felt in hosting the first U.S. Open in the Pacific Northwest – and the dramatic finish between Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson should be Chambers Bay’s ultimate legacy.
Remember: Pierce County hoped to break even, and actually netted $1.1 million. And while I hope the USGA awards Chambers another U.S. Open in 2031 or 2033, I’m more baffled by the PGA Tour and its inability (and indifference) toward finding a way to host an annual tournament in the Pacific Northwest.
Go down the schedule, and you’ll see: The closest the PGA gets to Seattle is Napa, Calif., or Reno, Nevada. There’s no tour event in Oregon or Washington or Idaho or Montana. The Canadian Open occasionally hits Vancouver – but that was just once in the last 12 years. For an area so rich in talent, interest, and golf course beauty, it’s a shame there’s never been a regular PGA Tour stop around these parts.
If you can hold PGA stop in West Virginia, Rhode Island, Puerto Rico, Australia and Kuala Lumpur, then there’s no excuse for not having one around here!
Now, I get it – the timing with weather during their annual West Coast Swing in February and March isn’t ideal. But it’s a lame excuse. The Pebble Beach Pro-Am seems to be affected by weather on an annual basis, and rain wiped out an entire day of play in LA this year. Tell me that an event here doesn’t work between May and October, and I’ll tell you that I’m sure they could fit one in between five PGA Tour stops in the state of Texas every year!
I also understand that it comes down to sponsorship money. But don’t tell me there’s not enough corporate money around here to make it work. If Amazon took $18 million to the PGA Tour and said, “Get us an event,” I’m sure the PGA would listen.
After all, we know proof of concept from other tours is already there: The Boeing Classic at Snoqualmie Ridge is an annual favorite on the Champions Tour. Ticket sales for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship last year were 60 percent higher than the previous year at a venue on the East Coast, and the annual LPGA stop at Meridian Valley in Kent was successful for 18 years until Safeco pulled its title sponsorship in 1999.
The PGA Tour? Crickets.
And while we debate a necessary infrastructure with other sports leagues, the infrastructure for golf is already here – just pick a course – from Seattle to Portland to Boise – there are many with the beauty and ability to host the best golfers in the world.
Thanks to the USGA giving us a chance, Chambers Bay proved that two years ago. The PGA Tour should take note – and actively look for an opportunity to reward the golf fans in our area with an event in the Pacific Northwest every single year.