While the U.S. Open golf championship will be at Chambers Bay this spring, its main fan festival will be held in Seattle, organizers announced Monday.
It’s the United States Golf Association’s way of spreading the wealth, organizers said during a media event at the University Place golf course.
The association wants to make it convenient for as many people as possible to get a taste of the U.S. Open. That’s why Seattle’s South Lake Union Park will be the site of the U.S. Open for All Experience, they said.
“Because this is the first championship in the Pacific Northwest, it seemed like the best practice that we could possibly do to be as inclusive as possible,” said Diana Murphy, USGA vice president. “We’re obviously very excited about having the championship itself here (in Pierce County), and the Bob Jones Award here at the Museum of Glass. The rest we wanted to expand to the hungry Pacific Northwest. We really wanted to share it.”
Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy said the U.S. Open — which will run June 15-21 at Chambers Bay — is truly a regional event. Pierce County owns and operates Chambers Bay.
“So we’re ecstatic about having our entire region, the entire Puget Sound, being engaged in this fabulous event,” McCarthy told about 200 reporters at media day. “We’re ecstatic that things are going to be happening in Seattle. We anticipate a great economic impact for the county and for the region and for the state of Washington.”
Officials around the Tacoma area had hoped the U.S. Open for All Experience would be held in Pierce County, but it became apparent in recent months that the mainstage activities would happen in the Seattle area, where many golf visitors will fly in and out of Sea-Tac Airport and stay in hotels in King County during the weeklong golf championship.
University Place Mayor Denise McCluskey said Monday she was a bit disappointed that the fan festival will be held 30 miles north of the championship grounds, but she said she understood the decision.
“They probably want to market to a bigger metropolitan area and get them engaged,” McCluskey said.
USGA public events scheduled for Pierce County include:
• U.S. Open Kickoff Celebration on the grounds of Chambers Bay on June 14. The event, which will be open to the public, will include a flag-raising ceremony by a Joint Base Lewis-McChord color guard and activities for families.
Tacoma also will be the venue for the awarding of USGA’s Bob Jones Award, given annually to someone who “personifies the values of its namesake: sportsmanship, integrity and respect for the game,” the USGA said in a news release.
This year’s recipient will be Barbara Nicklaus, wife of golf legend Jack Nicklaus. The ceremony at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma will be streamed live at usga.org.
Last year, the U.S. Open For All Experience drew hundreds of people to the Village of Pinehurst, North Carolina, about a mile from where the world’s best golfers were playing in the 2014 U.S. Open. It included several concerts and other entertainment.
This year’s Experience, which is free, will include interactive golf exhibits, food-and-drink vendors and photo opportunities with the U.S. Open trophy. It will run June 17-21 at Seattle’s South Lake Union Park. Golf fans also will be able to monitor play live on a large screen.
In addition, the Pacific Science Center at Seattle Center will hold a special exhibit May 4 through June 15 called “Learning Science Through Golf/STEM Education.” The program will feature interactive stations where people can learn how various scientific principles, including aerodynamics and agronomy, play out on the golf course. The exhibit will move to the South Lake Union event site from June 17-21.
The USGA also will host an “Epic Putt” challenge May 4 through June 15 for ticketed travelers to try at Sea-Tac Airport. It, too, will move to South Lake Union from June 17-21.