Originally created 11/06/02

USGA interested in museum at famed restaurant



NEW YORK -- Those who loved going to the Russian Team Room for its caviar and vodka could be in for a surprise the next time its doors are open: The main attraction might be Tiger Woods.

The U.S. Golf Association has bid $16 million for the acclaimed Manhattan restaurant. It plans to convert the Russian Tea Room into a golf museum in time for the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island.

"We're trying reach more people," USGA spokesman Marty Parkes said Tuesday. "We want to try to promote our museum a little differently."

The Tea Room, next to Carnegie Hall, was opened in 1926 by former members of the Russian Imperial Ballet. Over the years, it became a restaurant where musicians, performers and celebrities gathered.

Despite $20 million in renovations, the Tea Room closed in July.

Parkes said the USGA expects its bid to be approved by a bankruptcy court in the next two weeks.

The USGA's museum is located at its headquarters in Far Hills, N.J., and gets no more than about 25,000 visitors every year. Parkes said officials have been looking for a better location for some of its memorabilia, and found the Tea Room hard to beat.

He said the Manhattan museum would be more modern than the USGA's current display and would include more interactive displays, such as a putting green.

The USGA would keep its museum at USGA headquarters, along with memorabilia such as its popular Ben Hogan collection.

The Manhattan museum would include items such as the 6-iron Alan Sheppard used to hit a golf ball on the moon.

Parkes said the USGA has not determined how much to spend on renovating the Tea Room for a golf museum, although he said visitors would have to pay. The USGA museum in New Jersey is free of charge.