US Open played on former sand and gravel quarry

June 22, 2015

On Father’s Day 2015, the eyes of the sports world were on the 18th green of Chambers Bay Golf Course where a couple of missed putts by Dustin Johnson allowed Jordan Speith to capture the U.S. Open title. His second major title this year.

The millions of viewers who watched the drama unfold in Puget Sound, WA were also looking at a spectacular example of mine site reclamation. Chambers Bay Golf course was once the site of a sand and gravel quarry that produced some the hardest aggregates in the region for decades. That decades-long tradition of toughness carried over as the reclaimed quarry site played host to the U.S. Open over the weekend.

The quarry-turned-world class golf course was the first major golf championship to be held on a reclaimed sand and gravel site, according to the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association.

The quarry was last owned by CalPortland, and basically built Seattle with the some 165 million tons of aggregate produced there.

“The Chambers Bay golf course is just one high profile example of an aggregates operation that went on to a higher purpose of serving its community,” NSSGA president and CEO Michael W. Johnson said. “It exemplifies the sustainability of the stone, sand and gravel industry and shows what an asset an operation can be to future generations.”

And CalPortland said the Steilacoom grade products that came from Chambers Bay were, due to glacial activity centuries ago, incredibly strong and pure. That historical toughness translated to the U.S. Open tournament held at Chambers Bay over the weekend.

The course’s steep drops and rolling hills proved to be quite a sight for television viewers, but a challenge for the golfers. So much so that Jason Day, who was leading going into the final round, began to suffer from vertigo.

CalPortland senior vice president Ron Summers called the difficulty before the tournament.

“It is going to be a challenging and exciting U.S. Open,” Summers said.

Chambers Bay had an unlikely rise to become the first course in the Pacific Northwest host the U.S. Open. It was a sand rock quarry for 100 years, and was basically abandoned as of 2002. Pierce County, where the quarry is located, then decided to purchase the property with the explicit goal of hosting the U.S. Open, the Washington Post reported.

Former Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg was instrumental in the process and got advice and input from U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis.

“We came out and looked at it,” Davis said. “At that point they really hadn’t even started anything. It was just piles of sand around. But you could see the scale of this property and said, ‘Wow, this is magical.’”

The $20 million, publically funded course opened in 2007, and by 2008, was awarded the bid to host the 2015 U.S. Open.
“After looking over the fence into what was really a discarded old mine with some trash in it, some overgrown areas and big piles of sand,” Davis said. “To think that roughly 10 years later here we are with a national Open championship really is amazing



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