Lots of Chances to See the Pros
Friday, May 4, 2007
Tiger Woods's first annual PGA Tour event in Washington surely will be the marquee golf event this summer, but what if you can't make it out to Congressional July 5-8? Don't panic. There are a host of other professional events in the region to whet your golfing appetite. You might have to drive a bit to get to a few, but starting with the Michelob Ultra Open in Williamsburg next weekend, you'll have an opportunity to see the ladies, the seniors and the up-and-coming pros.
The biggest among them is arguably the LPGA Championship, held for the third straight year at Bulle Rock in Havre de Grace, Md., about 40 miles northwest of Baltimore. The tournament will be played June 7-10.
Now in its 10th year, the course is ranked as the top-rated public venue in Maryland by Golf Digest. The tournament is one of the four majors on the LPGA Tour, so the field will be world-class, including LPGA Hall of Famers Annika Sorenstam (if healthy), Karrie Webb, Juli Inkster and defending champion Se Ri Pak, winner of 23 LPGA events.
The course will play between 6,200 and 6,500 yards, and the rough has been increased to anywhere between four and six inches, according to Peter Bollman, head golf professional at Bulle Rock.
Designed by legendary golf architect Pete Dye, Bulle Rock also is well known for its treacherous greens.
"They're deceiving. Some of the greens, it seems as if they defy gravity," Bollman said. "You [read] it right to left, then you hit the ball and it turns left to right. There's breaks within breaks within breaks. These are perfect greens for a major championship, where placement of their approach shots" is critical.
Pro-ams will be held June 4-5, with a practice round June 6. Cameras are allowed during the pro-am and practice days. The tournament's first round is Senior Day, with all patrons 50 and older admitted free. And Saturday's third round is a Military Appreciation Day, when those showing a military ID also will be admitted free. For tickets, call 888-321-1681.
The LPGA Tour also will pitch its tent for the Michelob event at Kingsmill.
This is not a major championship, but the star quality remains as Webb tries to defend her title. For tickets, call 757-253-3985. Kids 17 years of age and under receive complimentary admission when accompanied by a ticketed adult.
The Nationwide Tour (the developmental circuit for the PGA) also has a stop in the area. The Country Club at Woodmore in Mitchellville, Md., will host the inaugural Melwood Prince George's County Open May 24-27. Maryland native and PGA Tour player Fred Funk will act as honorary chairman. The course, an Arnold Palmer design that is ranked No. 8 in Maryland by Golf Digest, has been open for play since 1981.
"The greens are the biggest challenge," said David Long, PGA director of golf at Woodmore. "A lot of undulation, the speed."
Woodmore will play at just longer than 7,000 yards for the tournament. "There are some holes where the players can leave driver in the bag," Long said.
There will be a practice round on May 22 and a pro-am on May 23. This year it will be played at Woodmore, with future sites within Prince George's County to be determined.
In October, the Champions Tour (PGA seniors age 50 and older) will make a stop in the Baltimore area. The Senior Players Championship will be played at Baltimore Country Club East Course Oct. 4-7. The tournament is the last of the five "majors" on the Champions Tour, and the course will play at just longer than 7,000 yards for the event. Most Champions events are three rounds, but because this tournament is a major, four rounds will be played.
With a purse of $2.6 million, it is tied for the richest event of the 2007 season, with the winner garnering $390,000. Fans will be able to see some of the game's legendary players. There will be practice rounds on Oct. 1 and 2, with a pro-am on Oct. 3. Cameras will be allowed for the practice rounds and the pro-am. For tickets, call 410-223-3085.
The Futures Tour, the developmental tour for LPGA players, also makes a stop in the area, coming to Hunters Oak Golf Club in Queenstown, Md. (just a few miles over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge) Aug. 17-19. There is a pro-am on Aug. 16.