Congressional’s approval brings some stability to Tiger Woods’ tournament


Tiger Woods holds a press conference on March 24, 2014 to discuss the future of the PGA Tour stop at Congressional Country Club (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Tiger Woods’s annual PGA Tour event in Washington has some certainty going forward. Late Sunday night, the members of Congressional Country Club overwhelmingly approved a proposal to bring back what is now known as the Quicken Loans National in 2016, ’18 and ’20 – keeping the tournament at its original site, which Woods strongly preferred.

Next year, the tournament will move to Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Prince William County, the Tiger Woods Foundation announced Monday.

“We are excited to keep our tournament in the D.C. area and to be playing at these great golf courses,” Woods said in a statement. “Congressional Country Club and Robert Trent Jones Golf Club will continue to challenge our strong fields while supporting the local community.”

The tournament still needs a site for 2017 and 2019, but the moves help anchor what was previously known as the AT&T National in Washington. Woods’s foundation originally brought the tournament to Congressional in 2007, and the membership narrowly approved an extension to keep the 2012-14 events at the Bethesda course.

There was, though, consternation about the vote for another three-year extension – even after Woods’s foundation proposed the every-other-year deal to take pressure off the Blue Course and the membership, some of whom weren’t thrilled about giving up their facility for at least a week each June.

But of the 1,300 votes cast, more than 900 voted in favor of inviting the tournament back.

“The membership spoke in what I consider to be an overwhelming fashion,” Congressional President Steve Durante said Monday morning. “The votes were in excess of two-to-one. I consider that to be a true success, especially considering that in 2008, the margin was just double digits.

“In 2008, certainly Tiger was much more in his prime in every aspect than he is today. To have the membership vote the way it did is a real good indication of Congressional’s desire and intent to not only host a fun time for the area, but to give back to the community and the businesses here.”

Even with the approval of the new deal, officials from Woods’s foundation – which both stages and benefits from the tournament – had to find a site for next year’s event. RTJ hosted four Presidents Cups, including two in which Woods played, and he spoke favorably of the course in an interview last week.

“It’s a wonderful golf course,” Woods said. “At the time, it was really undeveloped out there. There was literally nothing out there. It’s developed a lot since 2000. That’s 14 years. We had to stay something like 30, 40 minutes from the golf course. But it’s certainly developed a lot.”

Rotating courses isn’t unprecedented on the PGA Tour. The Barclays, an annual September event in the tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs, now uses four courses in the New York City area.

“One of the bigger pluses is the fact you can get to play some of the better venues that don’t want to host an event every year,” said Barclays tournament director Peter Mele. “In the Northeast, where golf season is so short, you’re basically looking at disrupting their golf course for a good portion of the season, and the next thing you know it’s winter. This helps alleviate that.

“When they first talked about it, moving it every year was pretty daunting. But now, we couldn’t imagine playing in the same venue every year anymore.”

Moving the event may also help generate more money for the Tiger Woods Foundation. Congressional will charge a $1.275 million site fee for each of the three tournaments – a big reason the club’s board argued that the membership approve the deal. The fee is the highest on the PGA Tour.

That money, though, comes directly from the foundation, which in turn uses money raised from the tournament to fund its charitable work in Washington. Woods’s foundation has three campuses of its learning center – two in the District and one at the Marine Corps Base at Quantico – in the area. Those centers provide after-school programs for disadvantaged kids.

Barry Svrluga is the national baseball writer for The Washington Post.
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