The Red Tide attacked Potomac's Avenel Country Club Wednesday. It was everywhere: windbreakers, caps, visors, pants -- but most of all, sweaters. There were more red pullovers at the Kemper Open's Pro-Am tournament than top hats at Ascot.
In this pro-am, four amateurs were matched with a pro for nine holes of golf. The amateurs paid $2,700 each for the privilege to play with folks like Tom Kite, Hale Irwin, Seve Ballesteros and Jerry Pate. The money goes to all sorts of charities and the amateurs got to improve their games with the help of some pretty great teachers.
Fashionwise, there were a few nice touches: the leather glove -- in either white or black -- sticking neatly out of the back right pocket and matching the slick wingtip cleats perfectly; the occasional pair of saddle shoes; Tom Kite's dreamy turquoise crew neck. But in general, the yummy ice cream colors were gone. Red was everywhere.
All of the officials were clad top to bottom in cherry red -- and there were millions of them scurrying about. Plus, the annual commemorative sweater, given to each amateur player -- and donned immediately by many -- was beefsteak tomato with rectangles and triangles in beige and green slapped on like a 2-year-old's artwork.
And then there were generic red V-necks -- that's what amateur golfer and Kemper Insurance Big Cheese Peter Standbridge was wearing. His sweater was red and plain, except for the little "Kemper Open '90" insignia embroidered in white above the heart. It matched the grosgrain band on his hat -- a traditional canvas one rather than the baseball cap that most contemporary duffers wear.
"I have a whole collection of them," he said.
He pointed across the green to Doyce Boesch, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who was wearing one of the commemorative sweaters.
"Somebody said you could wear it with anything," said Standbridge, "It's supposed to be a little argyle and some stripes.
"Have you seen the sweaters golfers wear today?" he continued. "They, they -- "
"Make a statement," offered his wife, Jean, rolling her eyes.
Standbridge was part of the "mystery foursome" -- a surprise celebrity group -- teeing off last. His team pro was Kite, one of the biggest names at the Kemper. Dan Quayle had been invited to play, but with Gorbachev arriving that afternoon ...
Instead, House Minority Leader Bob Michel was drafted, as was former Republican congressman Tom Railsback and Kemper Insurance Executive Vice President Keith Like.
Kite teed off beautifully -- a little short, but, as the crowd murmured, it was awfully windy. "It would have gone another 100 feet," said one spectator.
But 5-year-old Robbie Castro of Vienna was impressed. He was leaning on his junior-size driver, watching the former Kemper champ.
Robbie is a certified golf junkie. "Been playing since he was 3," his pop, Ernie, said. Robbie has his own clubs; a small collection of autographs, including that of Larry Mize, Castro's favorite player; and a pretty decent wardrobe -- down to the fairway green visor.
And he didn't have on a speck of red.