Don’t be fooled by the new name. The Champions Tour will visit one of its old haunts for this week’s Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship. Redesigned to the tune of $25 million and renamed TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, many in the field will remember the Bethesda, Md., course as TPC Avenel, home of the Kemper Open for nearly two decades.
“We’ll find out how good a job they did of re-doing it,” said Tom Kite, winner of the 1987 Kemper Open. “I’m sure it will be a much better course than it was.”
Kite remembers in 1987, the first time the Kemper was staged there, when Greg Norman hit what he thought was a perfect 5-iron from the elevated tee to the 182-yard, par-3 ninth hole protected by water. That is until the ball landed on the rock-hard green and bounced into the creek known as Rock Run and made double bogey. Norman wasn’t alone. He and the two closest pursuers chasing Tom Kite went double bogey, double bogey and triple bogey on No. 9, filling Rock Run with golf balls. Kite found the green and cruised to a five-shot victory. Afterwards, when asked what could be done to improve the hole, Norman suggested, “They should blow it up.”
The Tour actually did tear the green apart the following year, and Charlie Brotman, a prominent Washington D.C. public relations figure, cooked up a publicity stunt in which they invited Norman back to blow it up with a real live dynamite plunger.
Sadly, Norman declined. Here’s hoping things go dynamite this time.