The Tee in Telecommunications

I braved the heat and crowds Sunday to spoil a good walk along the fairways and roughs and cart paths of Congressional Country Club outside of Washington.

By way of disclosure, I paid for my ticket and was not the guest of CBS, which covered the tournament, or The Golf Channel, which also covered the tournament, or AT&T, which sponsored the tournament.

But thanks to Tiger Woods, the tickets were cheap, parking was free, and the shuttle buses were sublimely cool.

Congressional is the club that was founded by some legislators who thought that forming a country club would help them bond with regular folk but which instead became a symbol of wealth and privilege.

This weekend, it reclaimed some of the common touch  thanks to Woods’ commitment to make it affordable and accessible.  Communicationswise, it was plenty accessible, and as high-tech as a good walk spoiled by giant TV’s and everpresent electronic devices could be.

Perhaps it was the AT&T connection–the tournament is the AT&T National hosted by Tiger Woods–but I could not escape the electronic communications that so dominates my every waking work moment.

There were the free XM headphones to tune into satellite radio’s PGA coverage for the day, the digital leaderboard telescreens that looked like someonehad strategically placed giant laptops along the course. Then there was the free, handheld real-time leaderboard that could be had for the deposit of a credit card number in case I accidently walked off with it. Then there was the tower that must have been close to 200 feet positioned in the middle of the course to deliver the signal–I’m guessing–to all those handheld devices.

But the capper was the conversation that I overheard on the shady side of the green at hole #2 within 10 minutes of my arrival.

I heard the word “interoperable,” a word I have yet to hear outside Hill hearings and press conferences about post 9/11 communications and the 700 mHz spectgrum auction. The two spectators were deep in conversation about first responders and emergency communications, where I left them without delving any deeper for fear of having to report something.

I found great humor in the Cialis signs that greeted me at a couple of greens, but I will leave my string of golf-related impotence puns to your imagination.

I also found some irony–actually my brother found it and shared it with me–in the fact that cell phones were banned from the AT&T National.

Go figure.

By John Eggerton

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.