AT AVENEL, WHERE THE KEMPER Open is due to wind up today, plans call for 850 homes to ring the fairways. The combo of real estate and golf is common in the Sun Belt, but has never really taken root here.

If developers had dreamed up such a package when golf mania first hit the area, folks living in Colonial Village in Arlington or Brightwood in Northwest Washington or Burleith in Georgetown could be making divots right in their own backyards.

In 1894, members of the Metropolitan Club declared war on the sedentary life and organized the Washington Golf and Country Club in Arlington Heights above Rosslyn. By 1897, the club was the first stop on the typical society outing, although the columnists noted that most members of the smart set were mystified by golf and preferred to exhaust themselves watching the steeplechase at Fort Myer.

In 1908, the man who owned the land got restless for profit. The country club moved out to North Glebe Road, and eventually the Colonial Village apartments and shopping centers replaced the links.

Meanwhile, the Columbia Club had a course at Crittenden Street NW east of Georgia Avenue. But the city put out maps showing a grid of streets on the golf course. Taking the hint, the Columbia Club relocated in Maryland off Connecticut Avenue near its arch-rival, the Chevy Chase Club.

Even Georgetowners developed a lust for athletics, forming the Dumbarton Club at Wisconsin and R in the 1890s. They laid out nine holes in Burleith a few blocks up Wisconsin but the course didn't last.

This golf course shuffle arose in part because the city wasn't sure golf was its game. President Teddy Roosevelt avoided being photographed in golfing togs. During the next campaign, Democrats saturated the nation with photos of the Republican nominee, William Howard Taft, playing golf -- all 330 pounds of him.

Once in office, Taft usually played at the exclusive Chevy Chase Club. Then Woodrow Wilson, man of the people, discovered golf. During summer, he bragged that he played golf six times a week.

Even winter didn't put a crimp in his game. When it snowed, Wilson painted a ball red and blasted away. In a 1914 letter seldom quoted by Wilson scholars, the president averred, "My chief real interest is GOLF. It seems to put oxigen {sic} into my heart."