First off, let me congratulate you on the work you’ve done in your time as LPGA Commissioner. I’d argue that the LPGA is the most watchable professional golf circuit, and the closest thing to a true global circuit. Leader-boards often look like a UN meeting is breaking out. It’s good for the global game, and good for the sport. The women who make up the Tour are fantastic ambassadors for sport and their game.
As you’re probably aware, your cohort (Jay Monahan) at the PGA Tour announced their 2018-19 wraparound schedule, which puts an end to the DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland, northern Virginia) hosting a professional golf tournament in 2019. We’re all fully aware you have an event in Williamsburg, but that’s not really an option for most people in the area. So let’s talk about the market. When you combine the DC and Baltimore markets, they add up to 3.6 million households (2.5 million in DC and the Virginia suburbs, another 1.1 million from Baltimore and surrounding areas). If you combine them, that’s the third largest US television market (they kick Chicago out from the 3rd spot), and they have zip to look forward to in terms of professional golf next year.
I should also mention that when you look at the richest counties in the country based on a 2016 survey, the DC area has the top three spots. Loudoun and Fairfax Counties in Virginia, Howard County in Maryland. Overall, the area is home to 10 of the top 25 counties based on median household income. We play golf pretty much year-round unless the courses are closed. If it’s above freezing and the courses aren’t snow-covered, people will play. Same for the swamp-like summers. I mean, what’s a little heat stroke among friends, right?
Did I mention we like sports? Washington is a true 4-sport city, and not sure you noticed, but the Capitals won the Stanley Cup this past June. The entire area joined the players on a multi-day bender afterwards. We also have several colleges including a service academy nearby in Annapolis. The Nationals just hosted the All Star Game. The Wizards are a playoff team. There’s an NFL team that plays in Landover…yeah never mind (the Ravens in Baltimore have won a Super Bowl this decade). This area has supported the PGA Tour stop in the face of every possible obstacle including every possible weather event short of snow (that’s this area’s Achilles heel and we know it). People showed up in the aftermath of a derecho that caused massive problems including volunteers. Admit it- you’re looking up what a derecho is. We all learned about this 5 years ago. We didn’t show up the day after because the Tour didn’t let fans on the course because of safety concerns. If they had, we’d have shown up.
The point is this- this area loves golf and has a proven record of supporting tournaments in spite of barriers put in front of us. You should be putting the DMV on your tournament calendar. Okay, you get the area is lucrative. But let’s talk where to play; and it’s an impressive list.
Are there decent golf courses that can stage an event? You bet your ass! In Virginia, RTJ has hosted the Quicken Loans open and hosted multiple President Cup matches. Laurel Hill is a public course that hosted a USGA Championship. Creighton Farms should also merit a look if it has the space for the infrastructure a tournament needs.
Maryland has Bulle Rock (it hosted the LPGA Championship for several years in the 2000’s). It’s still a tough test. Closer to DC, you also have options. Congressional’s list of tournaments and championships is as solid as it gets but their members are an odd lot. Nearby, TPC Potomac just hosted the men in 2017 and 2018. The golf course at the University of Maryland hosted a Web.com event for a couple years after a 2008 renovation. Any dates after school lets out would probably work. Worthington Manor has hosted US Open qualifiers and is a public course. Baltimore CC (Five Farms) hosted the inaugural LPGA Crown event and remains one of those classic courses that could host an event on short notice.
Or, if you really want to swing for the fences, let’s talk about the District of Columbia. Specifically, Rock Creek Park. Sure, it’s not long or tough enough to challenge professionals. But think about what might happen if you went into partnership (think the USGA with Bethpage Black)? At the very least, take a look at it. Admit it- you’re intrigued because you think big.
Weather-wise, July and August aren’t the best (admittedly it gets hot and humid not to mention thunder storms) but then again- your tour hits south Asia which makes DC heat/humidity look refreshing by comparison. I know September and October are tough because you’re up against football and I know Portland has the Labor Day slot (and admittedly that’s a beautiful city). But you could make it work. May, on the other hand…that’s some fine weather. Starting to warm up but not yet getting killed with the humidity.
The point is this: Putting a tournament in DC right before/after the Williamsburg event is easy travel for your players, and normally May is pretty nice here as I already noted. So let’s do this. It’ll be great.