BETHESDA, Md. – The world’s most famous golfers and an entrepreneurial spirit are turning some of the area’s most expensive mansions into temporary parking lots.
While most of the thousands attending the AT&T National, hosted by The Tiger Woods Foundation, are paying $20 for shuttle bus parking at a garage on Rockledge Drive in Bethesda, or $10 at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, homeowners surrounding Congressional Country Club are charging competitive prices within walking distance of the course.
“We’ve been doing it for years,” says a man who asked to not be identified by name.
Some who offer parking start at $10 early in the week, and raise prices as the final round approaches.
“With us, it’s $20 every day. I think that’s fair. I think it’s worth $20 to park close, but I don’t think it’s worth $50,” says the man.
Hand-drawn magic marker signs line Bradley Boulevard, off River Road. Young people stationed on the homes’ driveways flag drivers into the make-shift lots, collecting cash as drivers park on lawns.
Homeowners must apply for and receive permits to allow parking on their property.
“The final count for applications for parking permits for this tournament was 11, with 10 of those being repeats from last year,” says Bonnie Ayers, spokesperson for Montgomery County.
The permit costs $297.
At least one of the homeowners donates the money to charity.
“The proceeds go to help abandoned children in southern Philippines,” says George, who was helping park cars in front of his home on Bradley Boulevard.
A driver getting out of his luxury sedan, preparing to walk down Bradley Boulevard toward the tournament, says, “We park here every year, and know these folks give the money away to charity.”
“It’s just down the road, and then there’s an overpass over Bradley,” says the parker.
Not this year – the temporary overpass is not in place.
Walkers must follow Bradley Boulevard, turn left on Persimmon Tree Road, and take Persimmon Tree Lane to the tournament’s main walk-in entrance.
“For whatever reason, they’ve made it very difficult to walk into the tournament,” says one lot operator.
“They have to walk two miles to get into the tournament,” says the homeowner.
“We’re the closest, and we have a shuttle taking people right to the gate, but most people have already walked a mile, and they’re not very happy about it, to be honest.”
Ayers says the decision to not have a pedestrian entrance off Bradley Boulevard was a tournament decision, which was conveyed to neighbors at a May meeting.