hit more fairways. make more putts. avoid the hazards. play by the rules.
The Tournament That Would Not Die

Posted on Thursday 29 June 2006

As of Tuesday the Booz Allen Classic is officially history, finally. It was supposed to end on Sunday, as do all PGA Tour events, but the incredible bout of torrential rain wreaked havoc with the course starting Saturday night. All in all I spent most of every day for eight straight days at Avenel; I figure that of the 80 or so total hours, about 10 were spent sitting around waiting for play to either begin for the day or resume after a rain delay. The days run together during tournament week in a normal year; this year, with the extra days, schedule changes and the incessant starting and stopping of play it seemed like I was never going to leave the grounds.

A couple of other thoughts about the event:

It was so wet on Sunday morning that my phone, hidden inside two layers of waterproof fabric, got drenched and refused to work until Monday evening, after I subjected it to 30 minutes of my bride’s hair dryer.

During tournament week trailers are used for temporary offices for the various volunteer organizers: walking scorers, marshals, the kids who carry the scoring signs, communications, security etc. A few of us spent Sunday morning in the general volunteer trailer waiting out the storm. We dubbed ourselves the “trailer trash” and had a good laugh about how much God apparently hates trailer parks and hoping he didn’t notice a temporary one.

When we arrived on Monday morning we learned that the course had received five inches of rain on Sunday night, in addition to the several inches on Saturday night and Sunday morning. The course was devastated: every bunker was either washed out, filled with water or both. The eleventh green was 90% under water. Large trees lay across more than a few tees. And a “potty farm” next to the 12th fairway had been washed “downstream someplace”, to quote one of the organizers. I was convinced that there was absolutely no way the course could be made ready for play, but the grounds crew at Avenel, along with the Tour staff, accomplished was seemed to be impossible.

The sad part of Monday was that they only needed about 90 minutes of play to finish the tournament; they got 60. The last group was on 17 green when the skies just opened and play was cancelled for the day. Between my rainsuit and umbrella I’d managed to stay relatively dry all week until that moment. In the 2 minutes it took me to get to shelter I got soaked to the skin. Nice.

A standard marshal phrase led to the funniest moment I think I’ve ever had at a tournament. One of our team, Tim, approached the gallery as a group of players got ready to putt. Tim held up his “Quiet Please” sign and asked gallery walking on the nearby cart path to “stand please.” With that, a man who had been kneeling right by the gallery rope stood up. Sir, as much as we like the tour guys, we say “stand please” not “all rise.” That one moment will make me laugh for years.

I gleaned some further intelligence about the future of the PGA Tour in Washington which I’ll share in another post. But I did note that the players who came to DC seemed genuinely sorry to see the event so much in doubt; more than a few of them talked openly about the way the final act was being handled. Personally, I like to think that the event itself didn’t want to end; hence the rain and the two day extension.


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