Golf Course Architecture - Issue 63, January 2021

Photo: Congressional CC/James Lewis The infinity green of the long par-four fifteenth at Congressional’s Blue course coffins, deep pits and diagonal echelon. He was not averse to popping mounds up and running them right into the line of play – often creating them from stone, tree stumps and other debris from the site. The approach is evident at Meadow Brook Club in New York (which no longer exists), Country Club of Farmington in Connecticut and most dramatically, in fully restored form at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in New York – a club which Emmet pored over meticulously as a member, board member and occasional club champion. Emmet’s Congressional layout occupied a sparsely treed site, with most of the ground open except for dense woods covering a ravine on the front nine. Both nines began with par sixes – eventually broken up to a par four/three sequence on the front and four/four on the back. Much of Emmet’s telltale bunkers and mounding were scattered throughout – some of it still evident in an early 1940s photo of the front showing deep, liner coffin bunkers and liberal use of cross hazards. By the time Green set to work on dealing with the site, everything had changed about the golf course. It didn’t help that during the second half of World War Two the grounds at Congressional were requisitioned by the War Department to serve as training ground for the Office of Strategic Services – a forerunner of the postwar CIA. Under the direction of General William ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan, the site was overtaken by hundreds of aspiring spies and black- ops trainees who lived in tents while practicing artillery, parachuting, munitions and commando raids, replete with close-in fighting. After Congressional returned to civilian use, plans developed for additional golf, with Robert Trent Jones Sr, then the dean of modern golf course architecture. He was hired to build a third nine while renovating the original front nine. Thus was born the Blue course, opened in 1957, featuring a dramatic downhill par-four seventeenth hole to a peninsula green, followed by a mid-length par-three eighteenth across a pond to a green sitting under the clubhouse patio. The work proved so popular that Jones was brought back in 1959 to revamp the “ Emmet was fond of peppering his courses with all sorts of bunker formations” 69