Kemper: Tiger-Free But Packed

Kemper: Tiger-Free But Packed

Tiger Woods took 36,000 people with him when he announced that he would not make his first appearance at the Kemper Open this year.

"When Tiger makes an appearance at a tournament for the first time, we definitely see an increase in attendance. Figures show that there is a 20 to 25 percent increase in attendance," said Brian Bishop, spokesperson for the Kemper Insurance Open.

Tiger Woods, professional PGA Tour golfer, announced last Friday, May 24 that he will not compete in this year's Kemper Open, despite weeks of anticipation that this year he might come and the excitement of many hoping he would.

"I was looking forward for what it would do. It immediately magnifies the event and the excitement surrounding it," said Devin Sullivan, a student at Churchill High School who also volunteers at the Kemper Insurance Open.

SEPT. 11 has changed the security surrounding golf tournaments, regardless whether a celebrity such as Tiger Woods appears or not.

In terms of security, "they made some changes since 9-11 across the board that won't be noticeable across the board," said Bishop.

"I would imagine that some players have their own personal security, but yes the [PGA] TOUR does have its own security staff that travels from event to event," according to Todd Budnick, medial official with the PGA TOUR.

Montgomery County Police will make a presence at the Kemper "no matter who comes, some in uniform and some in a plain clothes function to protect people there and to make our presence visible," said officer Derek Baliles, of Montgomery County Police.

"A secret is no longer a secret" after it is revealed, said Pete Cleaves, chairman of the Kemper Open, who said that security measures have been put in place by the PGA TOUR.

POLICE AND fire and rescue squads have been long prepared for whatever comes to the Kemper, no matter how big a celebrity plays there.

"They strategize this stuff months ahead of time," said Eugene Roesser, spokesperson for the Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department. "We give extensive coverage no matter who is out there. We always have a big presence there."

The police department is largely responsible for traffic control. Tiger's presence "really wouldn't change a lot," said Baliles.

"With an increase in the number of cars, it increases the traffic demand, but we would still continue to have officers in the same locations monitoring traffic," said Baliles. “We monitor the traffic and people from the Traffic Management Center watch cameras."

"Why we are there in the first place is to keep an impact on the Avenel community to a minimum — controlling traffic flow so people who live there can leave their houses and go to work every day. And to protect property; we've had people walk on private property and sit on patios or knock on people's door to use their bathrooms."

Most arrests made at the Kemper are for alcohol-related offenses, said Baliles.

FIRE AND RESCUE personnel, including emergency technicians, will be on hand throughout the week-long event, culminating in the four-day Kemper Open Tournament.

Responding to dehydration and heat stroke is typically more of an issue than anything else for the fire department, said Roesser.

"A majority of Station 10 [River Road] is dedicated to the Open. We have enough assets, unless there is a major calamity outside of the golf course. If there is another major accident in our area, the units become stretched pretty fast."

Roesser said that mutual aid arrangements are already in place with forces in Montgomery County, Fairfax and Washington, D.C.

LAST YEAR, 120,000 people viewed the Kemper Open despite rain delays on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, forcing continuation of the final round of the event into Monday. In 2000, approximately 183,000 watched the event.

"Crowd control is not a large concern although we do encourage people to use the provided shuttle service that is available," said Baliles.

Cleaves said there is no limit to the number of tickets sold to the event.

"The answer is no, but the stadium golf course will absorb a tremendous amount of people," said Cleaves.

Tiger might keep some away from this year's tournament, but, on average, more than 150,000 spectators come to the Kemper each year.

"Tiger Woods has a great amount of fan base, it would be tremendous for him to come for the people to see," said Cleaves.

"If he comes, there will be even more personnel that will want to get out there and be part of it," said Roesser. "We've been through this any number of times only to be let down."