- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It’s that time of year again, golf geeks — time for the Greater Washington Weather Delay Open.

Our PGA tournament has been known by many names over the years — the Kemper Open, the FBR Capital Open, the Booz Allen Classic, That Thing Over at Avenel and now, in its latest and greatest incarnation, the AT&T National, hosted by Tiger Woods. But no matter what the moniker, it has always been synonymous with “a 50 percent chance of rain and possible lightning.”

Not that it’s alone in this regard. All events on the PGA Tour are at the mercy of meteorology, and many, like the one here, routinely have to work around the weather. Why, we just had a U.S. Open that, thanks to a succession of storms, spilled over into Monday. Worse, there’s never anything for the fans to do during these interruptions — other than hold impromptu wet T-shirt contests.

I keep waiting for that to change, for the Tour to acknowledge the reality of the situation and come up with ways to entertain the customers during these soggy stoppages. Lord knows, they deserve it. But there doesn’t seem to be any movement on that front, if you’ll pardon the expression, so here are some ideas for Tim Finchem and his staff to consider, a few things that popped into my head while watching the grounds crew squeegee the 18th green at Bethpage Black:

• Stage a long-drive contest on the practice tee among, say, the top 10 players in the field in driving distance. Have each of them compete on behalf of a fan, who would receive any prize the player wins. Give everybody three whacks at the ball. If the weather delay drags on, invite some of the spectators to join in.

• Have a Legends of Golf Race — like the Presidents Race at Nationals Park. Who wouldn’t want to see Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus sprinting down a cart path, huge heads bobbling? Try to talk Tiger into running against them - or at least firing the starter’s pistol.

• Let the fans play Capture the Flagstick.

• Or if they’d prefer, allow them to test-drive the players’ courtesy cars.

• Permit swimming in the pond behind Congressional’s 18th green. Erect a temporary diving board so spectators can do cannonballs. Diving for lost balls should also be encouraged. Players who miss the cut can serve as lifeguards.

• Bring in Comcast’s Rick Dempsey to do his famous Babe Ruth Rain Delay Routine.

• Hold a lollapalooza, one-time-only sale in the pro shop: All rain gear 50 percent off.

• Announce over the P.A. system: “Party at John Daly’s bus!”

• Enlist fans to help build a pontoon bridge to the parking lot.

• Make the club’s laundry room available, free of charge, to anyone who wants to run his clothes through the dryer.

• Set up a tent capable of accommodating several thousand spectators. Show golf-themed movies like “Tin Cup,” “Happy Gilmore” or W.C. Fields’ first talkie, “The Golf Specialist.” (Masters and U.S. Open highlight films are also acceptable. “The Legend of Bagger Vance” is not.)

• In another tent, hold a PGA Tour talent show. Any player who has any nongolf gifts - even if it’s just making funny noises with his armpit - will be expected to perform. Have Daly sing, “All My Exes Wear Rolexes.” Have Tiger do that trick where he bounces the ball on a pitching wedge. Have Luke Donald - an “avid painter,” according to his bio - do a quick portrait or two of fans. Does Mike Weir know how to juggle? Is Jim Furyk a good yodeler? If so, bring ‘em on.

Let’s face it, any or all of these things would help fans pass the hours while the rain falls and the thunder rumbles - as it inevitably does in Washington in late June and early July. In fact, such activities, properly organized, might even prove as diverting as the golf itself.

I mean, you’ve gotta give these folks, this captive audience, something to do. Something, that is, other than tipping over Port-O-Lets with somebody in them.

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