|T Van Der Walt||-5||18|
By Neville Leck Last updated: 25th June 2012
The storied Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, outside Washington in Maryland, which opened in 1924 and last year hosted its third US Open, is once more the venue for this week's AT&T National, just as it has been since in 2007
Here is some background to this highly exclusive Club.
HOW IT ALL STARTED:
When congressman Oscar E. Bland and O.R. Lubring of Indiana founded The Conressional Country Club just outside Washington in Bethesda, Maryland in December, 1921, it was with the intention of providing "an informal common ground where politicians and businessmen could meet as peers, unconstrained by red tape".
Before its incorporation, they had taken their idea to Herbert Hoover, then Secretary of Commerce, who agreed to serve from 1922-1923 as its Honorary Founding President, and primarily because of "the determination of Bland and Lubring, the club's original two visionaries", construction of the Club's two18-hole courses was completed two-and-half years later in 1924 when the club was first opened to play.
Ironically it has since achieved international recognition, not because of politics, but rather because of golf.
There are two golf courses at Congressional: the flagship Blue Course and the Gold Course.
The championship Blue Course is not new to Major Championships.
Its was the venue for the its first major in 1964 - the US Open won by Ken Venturi with a 2-under-par tournament score - was host for its second Major in PGA Championship in 1976 when, with the course playing as a par 70, Dave Stockton won with a 1-over 281, and next hosted its third US Open in 1997 won by South Africa's Ernie Els who picked up his second US Open title with a four under par total.
The Blue Course has also staged one Champions Tour major, the 1995 US Senior Open, won by Tom Weiskopf and two USGA amateur championships, the US Junior Amateur of 1949, won by Gay Brewer, and the US Women's Amateur of 1959, won by Barbara McIntire.
THE BLUE COURSE:
Down the years the Blue Course has maintained its place as one of the games' Top 100 course.
Golf Digest rated it 89th in its 2006 listing of the America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses and this year the respected magazine ranked it 86th.
Bent grass covers its challenging greens, and Bermuda grass has been used for its wide fairways.
Numerous water hazards come into play on a number of holes
The original 36 holes built at Congressional in 1924 were designed by Devereux Emmet, but both courses have since been extensively redesigned several times over the years, the Blue Course most recently by Rees Jones in 1989.
Before that Robert Trent Jones had rebuilt the back nine in 1957.
The back nine on the Gold Course was redesigned by George and Tom Fazio in 1977, but the entire course was redesigned in 2000 by Arthur Hills.
Among Hill's changes to the Gold Course were the reconstruction of all tees and bunkers, then the re-sloping and the replanting of the fairways, and the construction of new cart paths and an irrigation system. The Gold Course was also lengthened overall, making it almost as challenging as The Blue Course.
PAR AND YARDAGE:
Congressional Country Club's Blue Course for the US Open last year was set up at 7,574 yards and played to a par of 36-35-71. That layout was then the second-longest in US Open history behind the 7,643-yard South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course in 2008.
At the two previous US Open championships at Congressional Country Club, the Blue Course was a par 70.
At the 1964 U.S. Open, the Blue Course played at 7,053 yards with a par of 35-35-70. In 1997, it played at 7,213 yards and par was 35-35-70.
Green fees at this private members course are said to exceed $125 per round, but are not made public.
No denim clothing is allowed on the course, shirts must have collars and Bermuda shorts are a requirement if shorts are worn.
AVAILABILITY: The course is open all year to members and their guest, but not to the public.
In additional to its many golfing amenities, which includes lavish men's and women's locker rooms, a top-ranked Pro Shop and practice facilities offering the best possible level of service, Congressional Country Club can boast a wide and varied list of amenities. They include:
- An indoor bowling alley (on the basement level)
- A grand ballroom that has hosted a number of famous weddings
- A Christian chapel with historically-preserved stained glass windows
- Indoor and outdoor swimming pools
- A fitness center, a spa and an indoor Jacuzzi
- Fine dining and a grand foyer
- A bar with large plasma television sets and a grill for everyday eating.
The excellent golfing facilities and other amenities at Congressional come at a price. The current initiation fee for the club is $120,000 - and the waiting list of approximately 10 years.
Once admitted to the club, the applicant may enjoy the club's social facilities for a monthly fee while waiting an extra two years for use of the golf facilities.
Some notable past members have included these former Presidents of the United States:
William Howard Taft
Warren G. Harding
Dwight D. Eisenhower
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