Bryan Altman, CBS Local Sports
The U.S Open is typically one of the most critiqued golf events of the year and this year at Chambers Bay Golf Course in Washington is turning out to be no different. U.S. Open courses are known for their difficult nature and unique challenges that often draw the ire of some of the best golfers in the world. For instance, 20-year PGA Tour veteran Ian Poulter, who has never been one to mince words, called the course “a farce” due to the courses wild changes in elevation and it’s hard and fast style of play.
Besides the criticism about the actual layout of the golf course, much fodder has been drawn from the fact that freight trains run through the golf course on a popular route along the Puget Sound. Reports have stated that an average of 60 trains per day make their way through the course and will continue to do so at their usual rate throughout the duration of one of golf’s biggest tournaments.
While this might be quirky of flat out funny for some, it’s troublesome and a major point of contention for others. The People’s Climate Action Fleet, an environmentalist group based in Seattle, Washington, have organized a protest, specifically targeting the trains that carry oil and other potentially damaging materials through the the area. The protest is scheduled to take place in the Puget Sound on Sunday, June 21.
The group plans to assemble numerous boats and kayaks in the sound to get their message out to a national audience.
The streets around Chambers Bay will closed to the public during the tournament, but boats and kayaks on the Sound will be visible to all the cameras and spectators. One of the chief attractions of the golf course is the spectacular view of the Salish Sea, Fox Island, McNeil Island and the Olympics. We hope to steer our fleet, with signs, kites and balloons carrying our message, into the middle of that view.
This latest protest comes on the heels of a similar rally that took place in Seattle’s Elliott Bay on Monday, June 15. During that incident, over 24 activists blocked a shipping lane that was to be used by a Royal Dutch Shell Company drilling vessel to en route to searching for oil in the Arctic Ocean. Among the activists was Seattle Councilman Mike O’Brien, who spoke to CBSSeattle.com via text message after being detained during the incident.
“That monstrous rig is headed to the Arctic to attempt to do something unconscionable,” he told CBSSeattle in a text message as he was processed by the Coast Guard at its offices. “I had done everything I know how to do as a citizen, an activist, and as a councilmember to stop Shell from drilling in the Arctic.”
A statement on the People’s Climate Action Fleet’s website elaborated on their reasons for protesting at the U.S. Open this weekend:
This is our chance to demonstrate to millions of people around the nation and around the world that the people of the Northwest understand that climate change is the greatest challenge that humans have ever faced; that we will not allow big coal, gas and oil companies to turn our coast into a hub for the export of fossil fuels; that we are determined to stop the oil train bombs that threaten all the communities through which they pass.”
In addition to the television viewing audience, roughly 65,000 fans are expected to flock to Chambers Bay on Sunday afternoon to see the final round of the 2015 U.S. Open.