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Clock is ticking on Chambers Bay as it prepares to host 2015 US Open

The United States Golf Association selected Chambers Bay in 2008, and preparations have been underway ever since. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Up next on the tee: Chambers Bay.

The University Place golf course has less than a year to prepare to host U.S. Open, the biggest professional golf tournament in America.

When Martin Kaymer rolled in his putt at 18 at Pinehurst No. 2 Sunday to win the U.S. Open, the clock officially started ticking on Chambers Bay. There is no more time. Each day that goes by is one less to get ready.

“It’s definitely sinking in now,” Chambers Bay General Manager Matt Allen told KIRO Radio from the 18th green at Pinehurst during Sunday’s final round. “We’re getting a ton of media attention this week and it makes it awfully exciting.”

Allen is one of 29 people from the University Place golf course that spent the entire U.S. Open week in North Carolina getting an education on what to expect next year.

“It’s been a wonderful, eye-opening experience for them to meet with the folks of the Village of Pinehurst and understand how they were involved, and not only what a huge undertaking the U.S. Open is and what a huge opportunity it is, but they also get to see how the championship is really administered by the USGA (United States Golf Association,)” he said.

The United States Golf Association selected Chambers Bay in 2008 and preparations have been underway ever since.

“We’ve done considerable work to the golf course,” said Allen. A dozen new tees have been added and at least three green complexes have been modified, too.

The next year is all about logistics and preparing for the anticipated 240,000 people who will be arriving at the course. Chambers Bay is only accessible by a two-lane residential street. Getting people to the course is the biggest concern right now.

The traffic plan won’t be released until early next year when the USGA, the city, and Pierce County nail down shuttle lots and bus service. There’s even talk of Sound Transit creating golf-course-only service from Seattle to Chambers Bay, which sits right next to the BNSF tracks along Puget Sound. It would drop people off right at the course.

Allen said this is going to be one of the biggest events in Puget Sound history. “I have zero concern about getting the region ready,” he said. “The excitement level is just absolutely off the charts.”

It’s expected the region will see $150 million in economic impact during the one-week tournament, with dollars being spent at hotels, restaurants, and local tourist spots. But Allen said it’s the long-term financial impacts of the exposure that will really help the region cash in.

“The real impact is the 220 million television viewers that watch the telecast. For so many of them, they are exposed to our region for the very first time,” he said. “That’s just going to bring tourism for years and years to come.”

Tickets went on sale last week for the 2015 tournament. They are off to a record start.

The 4,500 volunteer applications were filled in 36 hours, which was also a record.

Ready or not, the U.S. Open is on its way.

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