Sports

Last putt falls, Chambers Bay closes to public till after US Open

It might not have won a U.S. Open championship, but when Cat Blair’s short comeback putt on the 18th green at Chambers Bay fell into the cup at dusk Monday, it felt just as meaningful.

That not-for-par putt was the final shot struck by a public golfer before the 115th U.S. Open arrives in a few weeks.

Now Chambers Bay becomes the professional’s course the rest of the way — on which to practice, play, stumble on and grumble about.

Danny Sink, the U.S. Open championship director, said closing a course in late May is a standard procedure at all national open sites.

“Typically, Memorial Day is a tipping point for us,” Sink said. “It usually gives us two or three weeks to fine-tune the golf course, and (prepare) the golf course.”

At 8:15 p.m. Monday, with the rest of her foursome and two caddies surrounding her, Blair rolled in a 4-footer up the hill to close out public play.

“Sunk it,” she said excitedly. The 28-year-old mother-of three is also 30 weeks pregnant with the couple’s fourth child.

“It felt good. I got the last tee time, and the last putt.”

Needless to say, the tee sheet at Chambers Bay on Monday was full to the brim with 124 golfers. Blair; her husband, David; her father, Tom Koviak; and group coordinator Mike Olson headed off the first tee in the final group at 3:15 p.m.

Olson, a Chambers Bay pass holder since the course opened in 2007, estimates he plays 50 rounds a year on the University Place links-style layout. The Steilacoom resident is also a member at Tacoma Country and Golf Club.

Ten weeks ago, he visited the pro shop and inquired about available tee times for May 25 — the final day the course would be open to the public. The final tee slot was open.

“When I told people I had the final tee time,” Olson said, “50 people I knew wanted one of these spots.”

Olson, 46, plays plenty of golf with the Blair husband-wife tandem, who live in Eatonville. But Koviak, who is from Silverdale, had never seen or played Chambers Bay before Monday.

“I was asked, ‘Want to play the last (tee time)? I said, ‘Yeah!’ ” said Koviak, 55.

“My daughter said it was a lot of uphill walking — and sand.”

With daylight dimming, and the golfers walking off the 17th green, Olson proudly exclaimed, “One more hole, and the course is closed.”

David Blair, 29, was the only golfer to hit the final-hole fairway. Nobody made par. Everybody walked off happy — and a little less peppy.

“It is just awesome, and so special to be out here,” said David Blair, who has played Chambers Bay about 20 times.

When Memorial Day began, Seattle’s Gulliver Swenson thought he had the final tee time — one that was supposed to be part of a 20-man tournament called “Us Open.”

But when he and his buddies arrived, attendants in the pro shop asked if they could bumped up to accommodate Olson. They obliged.

Swenson, Adam Willie, Ben Behnke and Collin Hagstrom won the net best-ball tournament with a 15-under-par 57.

  Comments