Report: County leaders in Washington entertaining thought of LIV Golf event at former U.S. Open site

Chambers Bay has proved its ability to test the best professional and amateur players in the world, so much so that the U.S. Golf Association announced it will return to the municipal course on the Puget Sound near Seattle twice over the next 10 years.

The USGA will hold the 2027 U.S. Junior Amateur and 2033 U.S. Amateur championships in University Place, Washington, the fifth and sixth USGA championships to be contested on the design by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Bruce Charlton and Jay Blasi (a Golfweek’s Best rater ambassador and contributor to Golfweek). A stroke-play companion course for both championships will be named later.

Chambers Bay previously hosted the 2010 U.S. Amateur (Peter Uihlein) and 2015 U.S. Open (Jordan Spieth), as well as last summer’s 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur (Saki Baba) and 2022 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball (Kiko Francisco Coelho/Leopoldo Herrera III).

Chambers Bay
Chambers Bay

Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the 16th hole in the final round of the 2015 U.S. Open golf tournament at Chambers Bay. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

“There have been several memorable moments for us already in Chambers Bay’s short history, and the property remains a favorite for players and fans alike,” said Mark Hill, USGA managing director of championships. “We’re grateful for our continued partnership with Pierce County and look forward to bringing these two premier championships to such a special property.”

More: U.S. Open future sites through 2051

But since the U.S. Open is booked solid through 2042, leaders of Pierce County, which owns the course, are open to other ideas to keep it relevant. In fact, the group is considering the idea of a LIV Golf event.

According to a story in the Tacoma News Tribune, talks could escalate sooner than later:

Pierce County leaders are expected to begin discussions soon with Saudi-backed LIV Golf, according to Don Anderson, executive counsel to Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier. A representative from LIV Golf’s marketing agency recently reached out to Pierce County to set up a discussion.

At this point, Anderson said they’re all ears and said he expects he’ll talk with LIV Golf’s representatives within the next couple of weeks.

“LIV has its own issues though, golf politics, world politics-wise,” Anderson told The News Tribune this week. “You have to be careful there. They throw a great party, though. 54 golfers, 54 holes, shotgun start. You generate $5 million or so in concession and merchandise sales. From that aspect, they’re very attractive. “If they follow up with their indirect inquiry, we’ll listen.”

The layout ranks No. 40 on Golfweek’s Best list of modern courses in the U.S. and is No. 1 in Washington on Golfweek’s Best list of top public-access courses in each state.

But officials believe visibility is the key to maintaining that success.

On a positive note, Anderson said the course is doing good business and is being booked regularly by Washington residents and out-of-towners alike.

“We’re at a higher level of rounds (played) than we were historically and a higher level of revenue per round,” he said. “We need to be agile to stay in the mind’s eye of the elite golfer. … The economics of this course are not driven by regular golfers who live in Pierce County. It’s driven by people who come here from out of town and pay a higher fee.”

And therein lies the challenge for Pierce County leadership: keeping Chambers Bay relevant as a golf bucket list destination for years to come. The course, after all, is intended to be a tourism driver for Pierce County. Without major golf tournaments at the course, its value is diminished.

“You can’t run a golf course on a tournament every 25 years,” Anderson said. “We’ll stay on having fairly regular USGA tournaments. Anything that gets on TV is great. … With any business, you have to adapt to the marketplace. There may be other things involved.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek