U.S. Open: We Tuned in for the Scenery But Stayed for the Drama

I have absolutely zero interest in the sport of golf. But the U.S. Open is being held at Chambers Bay, which is just a hop, skip, and a jump from our new hometown of Tacoma, WA. So I tuned in to Fox this afternoon to see if the Goodyear blimp (which we’ve seen, as a far-off speck in the sky, circling for the last couple of days) would provide some shots of our beautiful local scenery.

And it certainly did. The weather here has been clear and just gorgeous all four days of the tournament. The blimp caught postcard-perfect shots of Mount Rainier, Puget Sound, and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. But what surprised both my husband F. and me was that, between the gorgeous scenery shots, we got caught up in the tournament drama.

Even though I don’t follow golf, I am interested in other sports, notably baseball, basketball, NFL football (which you are required to like when you move to the Seattle-Tacoma area), and tennis. But I’m not much into personalities and statistics. Even though baseball is my first love and I watch the World Series faithfully every year, no matter who’s playing, sometimes, come January, I’ve forgotten who won.

What I like is watching games. I love the way games unfold and the way players react to and cope with changing situations. This is why I prefer National League baseball to American League play: because the AL use of the designated hitter means that managers don’t have to make key decisions about whether to pinch hit for a pitcher who’s working well to take advantage of a potential scoring situation. I love to see which players step up in clutch moments and which ones choke, which athletes are able to recognize and adapt to what their opponents are doing and which ones stubbornly keep doing what they’re doing and hoping for different results. I love the pressure of the moment, the opportunity to step up or shut down.

And the final round of this year’s U.S. Open golf tournament provided some of the best sports drama I’ve seen in a long time:

  • one player who was completely out of the running until an amazing string of birdies brought him within one stroke of the lead
  • three or four players who kept tossing the lead, or a share of the lead, around among themselves
  • a player who made a seemingly unbelievable putt near the end of his final round
  • another player who could have won the tournament, then could have forced a playoff on the following day, and then finally lost the tournament, all because of his inability to putt

I admit that I can’t putt either—or I assume I can’t; I’ve never tried—but that’s why these guys were at Chambers Bay while I was watching on TV in my living room just a few miles away. But even though we got caught up in the drama, I don’t anticipate watching too many more golf tournaments—unless the U.S. Open comes back to Chambers Bay one day.

Tacoma’s War Memorial Park

In honor of Memorial Day here in the United States, here is a look at Tacoma’s War Memorial Park.

This park is not part of Tacoma’s Metro Parks organization, and I can’t find out exactly who owns and runs it. Most of the information here comes from a presentation by a member of the Tacoma Historical Society, which organized today’s Memorial Day event at the park.

War Memorial Park, originally called Living War Memorial Park, dates from 1952, when the land was donated by Harold Woodworth. The narrow strip of land served as the staging area for the construction of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (the bridge on the right in the photo at the top of this post), completed in 1950. That bridge was constructed to replace the famous “Galloping Gertie” bridge that collapsed on November 7, 1940, which you can read about here. When the 1950 bridge proved inadequate for traffic between Tacoma and the Kitsap Peninsula, a second bridge, the one on the left in the photo above, was built; it opened in 2007. Now the 1950 bridge carries traffic heading west on Highway 16, and the 2007 bridge carries traffic heading east. Drivers pay a toll to cross the newer bridge.

Dedication

Entrance: War Memorial Park
War Memorial Park

Tacoma Bell 1903The covered shelter that marks the entrance to the park houses the bell from the cruiser USS Tacoma, launched in 1903. The ship visited Tacoma in 1904, saw service in the Caribbean during WW I, and ran aground off the coast of Mexico in 1924.

 

War Memorial Park includes a World War I memorial, dedicated to the memory of the 162 residents of Pierce County who died in the war, that was dedicated on Memorial Day in 2011. There is also a World War II memorial with 760 names that was built through the joint efforts of the Tacoma Historical Society and American Legion Post 2. The park is also a stop on the Blue Star Memorial Highways, a project that originated in 1944 and is now overseen by National Garden Clubs, Inc.

Blue Star Memorial

The Tacoma Historical Society hopes to add memorials for the Korean and Vietnam wars in the future.

Today’s service at War Memorial Park, arranged by the Tacoma Historical Society and American Legion Post 2, honors all soldiers who have served in the U.S. armed forces.