If golf is not the best of all sports, it is the one that requires the most work to enjoy. It is important to keep that in mind as Washington and Kemper begin a four-year courtship that they hope will end with the vow of a permanent annual date.
Washington will be giving the PGA Tour as much as it will be receiving. No regular stop offers a more lush and challenging test than Congressional, twice host to tournaments any player would give several years of his golfing life to win.
Although the Kemper hardly is as distinctive as the 1964 U.S. Open or the 1976 PGA championship, it ought to be greeted with enthusiasm. And for the prices, anyone who leaves the course without a significant lesson for his own game should be zippered inside a shag bag for a month.
Kemper will be a nice barometer of our zest for sport. The Washington area is quite good at supporting events that hardly can be avoided, baseball and basketball all-star games, the NCAA basketball tournament, golfing's brightest showcases.
But this is simply another oasis for the double-knit nomads, though the timing and the course offers splendid tuneup possibilities for the U.S. Open in two weeks. How will Washingtonians regard a show with little appeal beyond 100 miles?
The on-any-given-day cliche applies to the PGA tournaments more than any athletic event, for golfers at that level are separated by mental and technical differences too miniscule for the hacker to comprehend.
That is why the absence of Jack Nicklaus is mourned mainly by the casual fans, the stargazers, but not the sophisticates. Nicklaus is a memorable sight, arguably the athlete of the '70s and the best golfer ever. But the sad golfing truth at the moment is that at least 15 regularly unrecognized tour regulars are his equals.
Unless officials allow Congressional to become diabolical, say by letting the rough grow higher than a five-iron and making the greens smoother than Telly Savalas' head, a number near six-under-par should be needed to win. Nobody will leave birdie tracks all over this course.
Preparations for a tour event are more extensive than for any other major sport. An immense amount of cooperation among local golfers and local golf clubs is required for all the gallery ropes to be strung, the scoreboards to be kept up to date and the golfers to be guided from their quarters and around the grounds.
A paying customer had better plan each day and the week well in advance, for lack of course management and mental discipline can be as costly for fans as it is for the players.
The best spot to watch the widest variety of shots is the tree-dotted area behind the 10th green that leads to the 11th tee, the 13th green and the 14th tee. In a space of perhaps 75 yards, a fan can see the boldest and most delicate shots.
In truth, the 10th hole is worth an entire day, for it might well be the toughest and most exasperating on the course, a 460-yard par four that requires a long-iron second shot to a reasonably tiny green that slopes toward water.
The successful touring pro is a magician from 50 yards around the pin -- and he will need a good deal of magic at No. 10. Hackers who enjoy watching the elite squirm now and then will be especially delighted there.
Follow Tom Watson at least one round. He is the world's best, with an astonishing 19 victories in his last 81 tournaments and 55 top-10 finishes. Only vintage Nicklaus has been better during a comparable period.
For general improvement in your game, tag along with a star who shines less brightly, a Tom Kite or Gil Morgan. The galleries will be smaller and a closer view of golfing excellence is possible.
Trouble-shot freaks are advised to camp among the trees to the right of the 13th fairway. And bring a helmet, for some banana-like slices will arrive there regularly. Be prepared for some of the most inventive escapes from golfing jail you can imagine.
Also, when you emerge from the tees at the top of the hill, he prepared for as spectacular a view as any in sport. The scene down to the green and back up to the clubhouse is a multicolored tapestry even Augusta National cannot match.
It is enough to make you wish you had concentrated on trap shots instead of the double play as a youth -- until you realize the pros have to putt all those inside-the-leather- gimmies that keep hackers sane.
And do not fail to see Lee Trevino on the practice tee, especially the day after he has played well. One of the highlights of the '76 PGA was this exchange between a fan and the back trouble Trevino.
"When did you start wearing a girdle? "the fan yelled.
"When my wife found it in the glove compartment of my car," Trevino snapped.