Congressional Golf Task Force Visits AT&T National, Joined by Tiger
With this year's event marking the return of AT&T National to Congressional Country Club, near Washington, DC, members of the Congressional Golf Task Force – including Reps. Phil Gingrey, Joe Baca, Albio Sires, and Cedric Richmond – joined Tiger Woods, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and AT&T Chairman and CEO, Randall Stephenson to honor some of our nation’s wounded warriors at the opening ceremony of the charity tournament.
The members of Congress also received a behind-the-scenes look at the tournament and saw firsthand the profound impact golf has on the economy and the charity it generates, and reiterated their support for the We Are Golf coalition. The tour coincided with military appreciation day at AT&T National, so members of Congress took a moment to pay tribute to the brave men and women of the US military by signing the We Salute Our Heroes Tribute Wall.
Stephanie Green did this write-up for Bloomberg News:
Tiger Woods, AT&T Inc. (T) Chief Executive Randall Stephenson and members of the Congressional Golf Task Force were on the green together for the opening of the AT&T National golf tournament yesterday at the Congressional Country Club.
The tournament contributes to the Tiger Woods Foundation, which operates two Tiger Woods Learning Centers in Washington that provide innovative math and science education for children.
“You might as well ask me my weight,” joked Stephenson about his reluctance to reveal his handicap, though he did in the end say that it was about a 14.
Stephenson talked to PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who said his handicap was around a 17.
“He’s lying!” Stephenson shot back, clearly aware that Finchem was trying to be modest.
Before joining Woods for the opening ceremony, which was sponsored by Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), a group of congressmen gathered in the club house with the World Golf Foundation’s CEO, Steve Mona. They included California Democrat Joe Baca, Georgia Republican Phil Gingrey, California Republican Jeff Denham, Louisiana Democrat Cedric Richmond, and New Jersey Democrat Albio Sires.
Mona pointed out the financial, charitable and health benefits of the sport, reminding the policy leaders that the golf industry contributes two million jobs to the economy.
Baca, the chairman of the Congressional Golf Task Force, added that he always promotes golf through a “business perspective,” because it’s a $76 billion industry in the U.S.
He has a two handicap, one of the group’s best. He said he prefers to improve his game on public courses, although he does belong to a private club.
The members boarded golf carts and got a mini-tour of the course, making a stop at the “We Salute Our Heroes” wall, where they wrote personal notes of appreciation to active military. The wall is sponsored by the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, or PenFed.
After the tournament, the wall will be sent to military organizations.
Military support is a trademark of the tournament. Lockheed Martin provides 30,000 tickets to active and retired military, and hosts a tent where packages of goodies are prepared for soldiers in Afghanistan.
And WAMU, American Univeristy's local public radio affiliate in Washington, DC, had this to say:
Play gets underway this morning at the AT&T National golf tournament at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda. But befitting of a tournament near Washington, D.C., top golf officials spent the practice rounds yesterday lobbying members of Congress right on the course.
Congress does have a "golf caucus." It doesn't have anything to do with playing the sport, though most of its approximately 50 members do hit the greens from time to time. Their actual focus is on golf as a business — a business that contributes 2 million jobs to the U.S. economy, according to the World Golf Foundation.
The number of public courses has grown significantly in the past 20 years, according to Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.), who heads the caucus and attended the practice rounds Wednesday. That has allowed many more people to play the sport, he added.
"That helps promote not only the golf course but the business and the people that work there," Baca said. "The people who work at the restaurant, the people that work behind the desk, the landscapers, the marshals. It presents an opportunity for people to be exposed to the game."
Baca and the golf caucus members who toured the course Wednesday got their picture taken with tournament host Tiger Woods. But they also heard from people like World Golf Foundation CEO Steve Mona. He wants lawmakers to okay a bill that would allow golf courses to receive federal aid after natural disasters like flooding.
"It puts golf, which is a legitimate business, just like any other business in a local community, at a decided disadvantage," Mona said, "when other businesses in a community can apply for things like disaster relief and receive it, but a golf facility can't."
The World Golf Foundation is headquartered in Florida, where they're all too familiar with flooding, thanks to the numerous hurricanes that hit the state.