UPDATED 2:50 p.m. More than 136,000 spectators descended on Congressional Country Club during last year's AT&T National golf tournament, even after no spectators were allowed on the course during third round play because of the derecho that hit the night before.
If tourney host Tiger Woods played as expected, it's safe to say at least that many would show up over the course of the week. But on Wednesday afternoon, Woods announced on his website that he will sit out the tournament because of a left elbow strain:
"I was examined after I returned home from the U.S. Open, and the doctors determined I have a left elbow strain," Woods said.
"I have been advised to take a few weeks off, rest and undergo treatment. I'll be ready to go for the British Open, and I'm looking forward to playing at Muirfield. I would like to extend my regrets to AT&T, our sponsors and the fans in the Washington, D.C., area. The AT&T National means a lot to me and my foundation. It's especially difficult not defending at my own tournament. It's going to be a great event, and I look forward to being there to provide my support."
It's a big blow for the tournament, which Montgomery County says had a $10.9 million economic impact on the area. Woods won the event last year.
The event officially starts on Monday, June 24 with a club Pro-Am, followed by professional practice rounds on Tuesday and a tournament Pro-Am that are both open to spectators. The tournament will run from Thursday, June 27 to Sunday, June 30.
Here's what you need to know if you plan on attending or if you live near Congressional, courtesy of Montgomery County and the AT&T National tournament:
Where Do I Park?
Drivers must use one of the official tournament parking and shuttle lots. There is no general admission parking available in the immediate vicinity of the golf course. If you're feeling adventurous (and you're early) nearby homeowners have been known to charge $10, $20 or more to allow drivers to park on their front lawns:
Rock Spring Lot (Blue Lot), 6720 Rockledge Dr., Bethesda (seven miles from Congressional at I-270 and Democracy Blvd.) This is the best location for those coming from Virginia and other areas south of Congressional Country Club. Operating: Tuesday, June 25-Friday, June 28, 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, June 29-Sunday, June 30, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Single-day and weekly passes available. Single-day passes for Wednesday-Sunday are $15, weekly passes are $55.
Montgomery County Fairgrounds, 16 Chestnut St, Gaithersburg. Operating: Thursday and Friday only, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. A single-day pass (Thursday or Friday only) is $7. Cost includes one-day parking and shuttle pass from the Fairgrounds to Congressional Country Club (less than 15 miles). Get single-day pass for fairgrounds.
Shuttles will depart from both lots about every 15 minutes.
VIP Preferred Parking Lot F, 7727 Persimmon Tree Lane, adjacent to AT&T National main entrance, providing walking access to tournament. Operating: Tuesday, June 25-Friday, June 28: 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Single-day passes are available for specific days, ranging from $30 to $50, depending on the day of the week.
You won't be able to walk into Congressional through its main entrance on River Road, which means you'll have to walk or take a shuttle from the nearest bus stops to the tournament entrance. The closest bus stops are:
T2 bus from Friendship Heights and Rockville (operated by Metro on weekdays and by Ride On on weekends). On Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30 -- as a convenience for spectators using public transit -- route T2 Ride On buses will operate every 15 minutes from 4 to 8 p.m. between the Friendship Heights and Rockville Metro Stations. The service operates every 30 minutes between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. The additional service will be operated as regular T2 service and will be open to all passengers. Regular Ride On fares will apply. The last scheduled trip in the evening in the direction of Rockville Station will pass through the intersection of River Rd. and Bradley Blvd. at 8:04 p.m.; the last trip passing through that intersection in the direction of Friendship Heights Station will be at 8:10 p.m. Bus operators working the additional T2 service will be provided a schedule. Passengers should use stops on River Rd. just west of Bradley Blvd.Ride On bus 36 from Bethesda (no Saturday or Sunday service). Use the stops at the end of the route on Bradley Blvd. at the Connelly School.
After departing the bus, you'll have to walk south on Bradley Boulevard and follow signs and directions to the shuttle that will drop off passengers at the tournament’s main entrance. Attendees who prefer to walk should go south on Bradley, then left on Persimmon Tree Road and proceed to Persimmon Tree Lane and the tournament’s main walk-in entrance.
Taxi/Limo/Private Vehicle Drop-off and Pick-Up
Public drop-offs or pick-ups are not allowed in or around the main entrance of Congressional Country Club on River Road. You must use the designated taxi, limousine or private vehicle drop-off services, located near the Tournament Main Entrance on Persimmon Tree Lane. No parking or standing is allowed, so attendees are asked to coordinate their pick-up times accordingly.
Look for them at the Tournament Main Entrance on Persimmon Tree Lane.
What Can I Bring In?
Security checks will be conducted on all passengers prior to boarding shuttles from the designated public parking lots. No bags larger than 6”x6”x6” will be allowed.
The following items are NOT permitted on the golf course: Cameras, video cameras or other devices capable of taking a photograph after Wednesday's practice rounds and Pro-Am. Radios, TVs, signs or banners. Coolers or beverages. Alcoholic beverages may not enter or leave tournament grounds. Large camera-carrying cases, chair carry bags, backpacks, packages and other carry items larger than a small purse, including diaper or baby bags. They will be confiscated so leave them in your car. Firearms or weapons of any kind, folding-arm chairs or lawn chairs (no matter the height). Ladders or periscopes.
So Is There Actually Anything I Can Bring In?
Folding stools without arms are allowed. Cameras are allowed for the Tuesday practice round and Wednesday Pro-Am, but only point-and-shoot style cameras are allowed. "Professional-looking" cameras and equipment (long-range lenses, tripods, etc.) will NOT be allowed. Strollers are allowed. So are cell phones.
Wait, Cell Phones Are Allowed?
Yes, cell phones are allowed. The PGA allows spectators to bring their cell phones into tournaments, a recent change. There are guidelines, though. Don't forget to to silence your phone while on the course so you don't risk the wrath of an enraged caddy.
Spectators will be allowed to charge their phones for free at the AT&T Digital Clubhouse, where the tournament's title sponsor will be promoting a host of products in an air-conditioned tent.
How Do I get Tiger's A Golfer's Autograph?
Players won't sign autographs at all during the Thursday-Sunday competitive rounds. Some might sign on their way to and from the clubhouse after their rounds. Your best bet is Tuesday or Wednesday, when players are much more likely to sign your stuff on their way to and from the practice range, practice greens and course.