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Commentary: With Tiger Woods gone, what's next for D.C. golf?

By STEPHEN MOSKAL, PGA   |   July 5, 2012 at 9:35 AM   |   Comments

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Washington, D.C. has battled hard to keep its premier golfing event and it's always great when the tour come to town.

The Kemper was always a mainstay when I was watching the tour as a teen. I remember when a local hero where I grew up in mid-Michigan flew out to try to qualify and came home with a tee marker from Congressional. I was amazed to see the Capitol Dome in miniature. Now that was cool.

Unfortunately the Kemper/Booz Allen/AT&T has had a hard time finding a permanent home. As a result, it has lost some of its cool factor.

Tiger Woods, however, has brought cool back to D.C. Our chances of creating a great event in the nation's capital appears to be resting on Tiger.

The nation's capital deserves a great tour stop. But what does it take to make a great tour stop? Venue and timing are always the two main criteria.

Pro golfer Ben Hogan's biopic, "Follow the Sun," alludes to the tour philosophy of finding ideal weather across the U.S. so that the best players in the world can showcase their skills.

Along the best courses in the country and the formula that the PGA Tour tries to implement is clear: greatest golfers in the world, the greatest courses in the country and the best weather.

One of the most difficult things to do for a tournament host is to break into the tour schedule and find the ideal date. This is particularly true since the tour shuffled things up to create the FedEx playoffs.

Timing

Summers in D.C. usually mean 90 plus degrees and 100 percent humidity. What is not to like?

The ideal season for golf in D.C. is either in the spring or the fall. D.C. summers are tough on the courses and on the spectators. Unfortunately the spring schedule is way too loaded and playoffs take place in the fall.

In addition, Tiger's tournament has been themed as a salute to the military. A D.C. tournament is bound to be in the early July heat.

This is only bearable if the venue is worth it.

There are other tournaments that have issues with dates and weather. One that comes to mind is the other AT&T-sponsored event in the spring at Pebble Beach.

Though Pebble Beach is plagued with cold and rain, the venue definitely makes up for the weather.

Venue

Traditionally, the PGA Tour in D.C. has bounced between two courses: Congressional and Avenel.

We have to remember that the TPC courses came about as the PGA Tour's solution to finding adequate venues.

They figured that if they could build a course that they operate in every major market in the U.S. then they would never have a problem finding a permanent host course. As of right now, a total of nine tournaments are played at a TPC course.

TPC Avenel was one of the courses specifically built to host a D.C. tournament.

However, as 1983 Kemper winner at Congressional Fred Couples is known to have remarked, though you'll gladly drive by Avenel to play Congressional, you unfortunately have to drive by Congressional to play Avenel.

At the time he made that comment, there might have been some truth to it. But the remodeling of Avenel has made it a very demanding and interesting course.

There has even been mention that the course is too difficult now. It certainly was for the Senior Tour when it made a stop there a couple of years ago. Difficulty is not the only criteria for choosing a tour venue. Tradition plays a big role.

The question becomes, why won't Congressional accept to host the tournament indefinitely? and if they won't, who will?

A third financial player has recently come into the venue game--Donald Trump.

Trump bought Lowes Island Golf a couple of years ago and has renovated both the championship course and the club house. It is clear that Trump intends to crack into the PGA Tour.

He represents the "nouveau riche" in a game of tradition. He exemplifies the classic case of someone who made billions and who wants to try to buy his way into tradition.

As such, his intentions have not been well received by decision-makers on tour.

Tiger spent some time with Trump at the Pro-Am last week. Perhaps they discussed the possibility of Tiger moving his tournament to Trump National.

We know that money can't buy happiness, but maybe it can buy a PGA Tour event.

I personally would much rather have the fate of D.C. golf in Tiger's hands than in Trump's.

Maybe Tiger can convince the powers to be at Congressional that they should host his tournament every year. That would solve the problem.

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Stephen Moskal is currently the Director of Instruction for Golf Swing Exchange, an innovative on-line coaching platform whose goal is to revolutionize the ability for people to learn golf. A former professional golfer in Europe, Moskal turned pro in 1993 as a member of the French National Circuit and also spent time on the United Kingdom Mastercard Tour and the European Challenge Tour. Following a seven-year professional career, Moskal turned to teaching full-time in 1999. A 1990 graduate of Furman University with a degree in philosophy, Moskal was a four year letter winner with the Paladins and was a member of the academic honor roll. Most recently, Stephen studied under Top 100 instructor Mitchell Spearman, best known for working with major champions Nick Faldo and Ian Baker Finch. Stephen is also the Head Golf Coach at Marymount University in Arlington, VA.

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(United Press International's Commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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