We hit the 19th green this morning and talk a little golf………

Good Tuesday morning. We’re going to hit the links this morning and talk some golf.

This past weekend was the fifth anniversary of this country’s major national men’s championship event, the U.S. Open, taking place in our area, at the Chambers Bay Golf Club south of Tacoma in Pierce County. The anniversary has rekindled memories of that great event and has spawned a discussion about the future of professional golf in our region, namely whether the Open will come back here but in the meantime, whether this area could support pro tour events outside of the current Champions Tour’s Boeing Classic, at the Club at Snoqualmie Ridge in Snoqualmie.

Could the Open come back here?
A lot of people want to see that, especially after renovations to the Chambers Bay course that came from feedback from competitors at the Open event – namely to the greens and installing a different type of grass on those greens that is more suitable for the area climate – but the earliest that could happen is not until much later in this decade. Q13’s Aaron Levine did an interview with USGA official John Bodenhamer on this topic and you can see that here. However, in the interim, there is support in some circles to bring a regular PGA tour event to the region, that would have the tournament contested at Chambers. This was also discussed in that interview.

So, if the PGA comes here, what could that entail?
The Boeing Classic has been one of the crown jewels of the regular Champions senior (over 50 y/o men) tour schedule since its inception over 10 years ago, with exciting finishes most of those years which have brought fans back year after year. While the event is still among the more well-attended events on the tour, the long-term future of it as a Champions event is unclear. With the lack of noticeable names on the Champions Tour compared to its PGA Tour brethren, were a PGA event to come to western Washington and compete with the Classic, it is likely the Classic would ultimately lose out in that battle. So the easiest way to perhaps address this and maintain the viability of the tournament would be to make the Classic a PGA tour event as opposed to the Champions Tour. There is precedence for this – the PGA last year took over a Champions stop in Minneapolis.

However, if the Boeing Classic were to be made a PGA event, the tournament would likely be moved to Chambers leaving the Club at Snoqualmie Ridge, and neighboring restaurants and other businesses on the Ridge who generate significant revenue from fans during tournament weekend, financially out in the cold. That, of course, would not be good for our Valley community, who has used this event, and its national television coverage, as a great advertisement for our area for many years.

With the Classic having been canceled for this year amid the COVID-19 outbreak, this year now would be a good time for tournament organizers to perhaps examine whether the future of the event would be better off as a PGA event, and we think the answer to this is yes. But, our Valley community can still keep its toes dipped into the pro golf game. How, you ask?

Perhaps the ladies may have an answer
A lot of newcomers to our area who follow golf probably do not realize that the Seattle area at one time, in addition to hosting the senior Champions Tour, hosted an annual stop on the LPGA ladies pro tour. That event was in the early 1990’s and held at Meridian Valley Country Club, on Kent’s East Hill. The course is still there, but a number of courses have been built in our area since that tournament ceased operations some 25 years ago which are far better quality courses for pro tournaments now than Meridian. Those would include the Club, and we would suggest that if the Boeing Classic were to become a PGA tour stop and be moved to Chambers that the Club on the Ridge and the Classic together jointly pursue an LPGA event to be held at the Ridge course.

Bringing the ladies’ tour to the Valley would be a tremendous opportunity to expose golf fans to the excellent talent that tour now has. And there are quite a few names on that tour that are recognizable – Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson, Morgan Pressel and Brooke Henderson to name a few. The tour’s Northwest presence has been centered in Portland at a regular tour stop there, but we would suggest the tour would enjoy a Seattle-based event either as an add-on or a replacement to the PDX stop, and with the likely corporate support such an event could enjoy, a tournament purse (overall money awarded to competitors) could be among the higher ones on tour during the course of the season.

It should also be noted that the Seattle area’s strong support for women’s sports would also help attract additional interest, and perhaps additional corporate support.

Such an event we think could also be a good opportunity to involve local youth girls and college women’s golf as well, so with that we would suggest that such a tournament ensure sponsor exemptions to top state high school girls and college women’s golfers each year as well. Those exempt players would compete as amateurs preserving their high school and college eligibility, but would get a chance to compete against the best, a lifelong dream for many of our young girls’ golfers here in our area, such as Snoqualmie’s Caitlin and Kasey Maralack.

A lot to think about of course but this is a subject that will continue to generate much discussion in our golf community in the coming months we’d expect. We look forward here to hopefully being able to continue to offer our voice in that discussion.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
This entry was posted in News and Comment, On the Links. Bookmark the permalink.