PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — The hillside overlooking Chambers Bay golf course hasn't changed since last year and may not change for some time to come.
The planned hotel and resort that has been part of the golf course and park's design since its inception is on hold because the coronavirus pandemic made investors skittish.
“We had a solid offer and had several ready to come in around the time the pandemic hit,” said Dan Absher of Absher Construction Company, which is part of Chambers Bay Development LLC.
Construction on the hotel and resort had been scheduled to begin in April of this year. It’s now delayed until spring of 2021 with a planned opening in the spring of 2023.
Part of getting work rolling again is cost. Chambers Bay is a Pierce County facility and like a lot of government agencies the county council is unsure how the pandemic caused recession will impact the budget. According to the county “COVID 19 continues to dramatically impact travel and thus our non-resident rounds activity,” and was, “the primary factor contributing to a monthly average green fee that declined 6.6%.” But as the county entered Phase 2 reopening, “strong in-state and member-related play allowed us to exceed budgeted average green fee by 13% in June.”
“Hopefully we’ll come our of it within a year or within six months or so and maybe they can make a rebound,” said Jeff Borey who was visiting Chambers Bay on Tuesday. “But I think there’s going to have to be some cutbacks.”
One cutback that is coming, the number of hotel rooms at the resort at Chambers Bay will be smaller than originally planned, but that has more to do with golf than a virus. The sport is simply not as popular as it used to be.
According to a study put together by Chambers Bay Development LLC, “the decline in the number of golfers nationally is staggering.”
Bob Rothwell lives on a golf course in Thurston county and says he's seen fewer golfers right outside his home.
“We’ll go hours without seeing any golfers and this is in really nice weather, perfect weather,” said Rothwell.
Absher says despite the setbacks the resort is moving forward. “We remain bullish on the project, optimistic. But we are not without challenges we hope to overcome in the next few month,” Absher said.