The first golf professional sets foot on the Tournament Players Club at Avenel next Monday, but preparation for the return of the Booz Allen Classic has been ongoing for weeks.
For the 27th year, the PGA Tour will return to the Potomac area, an event that draws more than 100,000 fans each year. After Congressional Country Club hosted the tournament for a single year last year, the event returns to TPC at Avenel from Monday, June 19 through Sunday, June 25.
THIS THURSDAY is the last day Avenel’s fairways are open full-time for its members to play until Wednesday, June 28.
“We’ve been building the site for the last three weeks in terms of putting tents up and fences up,” said Bob Jeffrey, executive director of the Booz Allen Classic.
“They make it very easy for homeowners,” said Nancy Itteilag, an Avenel resident and member of the Avenel Community Association. Despite the crowds the event draws to the residential neighborhood, event staff, county officials and Avenel residents collaborate to keep residents’ lives moving. Some neighborhood streets are split into lanes for locals and lanes for event traffic.
“It’s tremendously well managed —they sent the parking passes out two months ago,” said Itteilag, a Realtor.
“This is a year-round thing,” said Pete Piringer, spokesperson for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service. “Special events do take a lot of planning, and I think the planning has been almost seamless through the years.”
The tournament’s fire and rescue command will set up shop at Avenel on Friday. Frank Leizear, a master firefighter with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue, said there would be 14-18 firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, plus two on-site doctors at Avenel.
“You’ve got to have them all over the course,” Leizear said, and that becomes more true as the event goes on and draws crowds upwards of 25,000 by the weekend of the tournament.
“We start at 7 in the morning, and we’ll be there until the last people leave in the evening,” Leizear said.
FOR THE MANY regular fans attending the Booz Allen Classic, there are few new regulations. However, Jeffrey emphasized that fans may not bring cell phones or pagers to the course. “The [PGA] Tour is pretty strict about not having it for spectators,” Jeffrey said.
Serious fan misbehavior is rarely a problem, Leizear said. It’s been several years since any arrests of fans at the tournament.
Spectators are also asked to refrain from asking the golf professionals for autographs after tournament play begins next Thursday. However, the pros arrive on Monday, and through Wednesday, they are more accessible on those days. This is especially true on Tuesday, when professionals practice from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Once the tournament is underway, Jeffrey recommends Avenel’s Pavilion Club for its views of the 16th, 17th and 18th greens. “It’s probably one of the best viewing clubs I’ve ever seen,” Jeffrey said.
On Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, July 25 only, a parking shuttle service will also be available from Booz Allen Headquarters in McLean, Va. and from Marriott Headquarters at 10400 Fernwood Drive in Bethesda.
Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich is scheduled to play in the pro-am, held on Tuesday and Wednesday next week. Participants won’t just come from Annapolis, either. The Booz Allen Classic is the only PGA Tour event in the Washington, D.C. area, so it’s likely that some U.S. legislators will make the trip. “You never know who’s coming out of Washington, Leizear said.
THIS YEAR’S FIELD OF golf professionals includes defending Booz Allen Classic champion Sergio Garcia, as well as 2004 champion Adam Scott, who is currently ranked No. 8 in Official World Golf Ranking. Other popular PGA golfers in the field include Chris DiMarco, Charles Howell II, Tom Kite, and former University of Maryland coach Fred Funk.
“For the week after the U.S. Open, we have a very strong field,” Jeffrey said.