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and getting it 100-percent right.

Given the complexities of the site,

it was no surprise to him that initial

budget estimates of $15 million grew

by almost 50 percent as the project

neared completion. “I kept telling the

Council,” says Ladenburg, “that 100

years from now, no one will look back

and wish that Ladenburg hadn’t spent

an extra $10 million.”

The design team of Robert Trent

Jones II won the contract for the golf

course in a highly competitive process

involving top-notch firms. Municipal

bids are always a complex matter.

Smart government officials have

learned that fee is only one factor, and

that if contracts are allocated solely on

the basis of lowest bidder, government

agencies will end up getting what they

pay for (or not).

What ultimately swayed Ladenburg

and Pierce County officials towards

Jones was a combination of

factors: the firm’s experience with

environmentally challenging sites; its

extensive work with municipalities;

the scope of the firm’s ‘all-in’

commitment to the project; and a

certain intangible sensibility about

knowing what it would take to get the

project on the USGA’s radar screen for

serious consideration as a major site.

All of this was affirmed at the final

interview, when the Jones team gave

the County slightly more than it asked

for. Not only did they present, as

required, a plan for 27-holes. They also

went beyond the remit to showcase

an 18-hole plan, one that avoided the

inevitable compression of parallel holes

that would have been required to fit all

of the originally intended golf into the

300-acre north parcel of the property

dedicated to the course.

That sealed the deal, and the Jones

team was off and running in what

Charlton calls “the biggest sand box

any of us had ever gotten to work

on.” What followed was a frenetic

six months of detailed drawings,

site visits, revisions, refinement and

bid documents. Charlton, who has

been at Jones’ side for 34 years,

acknowledges that “municipal jobs

are generally demanding in terms

of paperwork, but that this one was

in the top two or three we’ve ever

done.” He describes sheet after sheet

of two-foot by three-foot drawings

and plans, together creating a roll

eight-inches in diameter.

Only a handful of the holes first

shown on the 18-hole alternative

master plan survived the arduous

review process. The clubhouse was

moved to the southeast, the range

moved out of a central core setting

into a low, open area to the east,

and room had to be found for a

continuous three-mile walking trail

that would weave through the golf

course without interfering with play—

or for that matter, be visible to golfers.

Holding ponds, initially intended

for the course, were dispensed with

thanks to improved wastewater

treatment technologies developed for

Original green sketches for Chambers Bay