Wednesday, January 18, 2006

PGA Tour Shanks One

Thomas Boswell wrote in his column today about the PGA Tour's decision in 2007 to move the Booz Allen Classic (Formerly known as the Kemper Open) from its usual June date to late September or early October.

This decision by the PGA Tour rankles me a bit as the Washington DC metropolitan area has always supported this tournament and the PGA Tour is basically telling the golf fans here we don't give a damn anymore. This move could signal the end of a PGA Tour stop here.

The PGA should realize the only thing most sports fans in the D.C. area care about in October is the Redskins. I used to volunteer at this tournament as a marshal (1982-1990) and I've supported it when I can over the years. I have a lot of neat memories there. We marshaled on the par three 12th hole at Congressional. I saw Jack Nicklaus play there. One fond memory I have is the late Payne Stewart and I chatting a few times. I would leave the day's sports section near the water cooler for players to glance at when waiting to hit their tee shots and Payne, like a lot of the golfers, was a big sports fan. It would sadden me if there was no tournament here. When Benjamin gets older, I want to take him and my Father out there to see the action.

Avenel is a great place to watch a tour event. The move in '87 was done a couple years too soon as the course did not have ample time to mature as it was finished in the early '80's. The course and tournament was not helped at all by 1986 Kemper champion and number one ranked player Greg Norman's remarks about blowing up the ninth green at Avenel during that 1987 tournament. Avenel subsequently got a bad name and rep and as a result, the event has struggled to attract big names over the years. Another factor was where the PGA Tour stuck the tournament. Some years it was held two weeks before the U.S. Open. Other times it was held the week before the U.S. Open. A lot of top pros stayed away as they needed a break after playing in a bunch of invitational events (Colonial, Byron Nelson & Memorial) in May. They would still draw big crowds here though.

Two things are on my wish list here. One, I hope the PGA Tour reconsiders this decision. The area charities that benefit from this event each year would be the big losers as well as the golf fans who have supported it over the years if this event leaves the area. Two, I wish one Eldrick Woods would play in this event. Just come out once Tiger. He's played here in the D.C. area before. 1997 at the U.S. Open at Congressional and the 2000 and 2005 President's Cup at RTJ in Gainesville VA.

Len Shapiro's column

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