Golf Course Architecture - Issue 63, January 2021

70 original front nine – in the process completely rerouting Emmet’s holes, heavily grading up the greens and removing the cross bunkering. This was the course upon which Ken Venturi won the 1964 US Open – in a typical Washington DC swelter of searing heat and humidity. Interestingly, the routing for this event, as well as for the 1976 PGA Championship, skipped two of Jones’ holes, borrowing a par three and par four from the third nine to wind up the round on that dramatic downhill par four to the green backed by the pond. More work ensued on Congressional, with the old third nine folded into a new 18-hole Gold course when George and Tom Fazio added a fourth nine to the club in 1977. In the late 1980s, Rees Jones began a succession of work rebuilding the Blue, in the process reshaping greens, moving bunkers to conform to landing points of modern championship golf, and framing landing areas and greens with mounding. He managed to create a contiguous 18-hole routing so that the championship venue could rely upon an entirely Blue course rather than borrow holes in composite fashion. This involved restoring his father’s par-three eighteenth hole (for the 1997 US Open), then reversing it so it played as the tenth hole for the 2011 US Open and the layout could end with its famed downhill long- par four to the lake. As Green assessed this design legacy it was evident there was no clear template to rely upon. He set out to bring the holes back down to earth and create a more natural looking, older style to Congressional Blue. Along with enhancing the course’s championship pedigree for elite players, it had to meet the day-to-day needs of a very active membership. It also had to solve some basic agronomic and conditioning issues that had come to bedevil the place. “It’s heavy soil out here,” says Peter Wendt, Congressional’s director of golf course and grounds. “Basically, heavy red clay.” Tree overgrowth had substantially reduced wind across the site while shading areas and making it hard to dry out. The proliferation of greenside mounding also tended to create issues, by steering water onto the green fillpad while impeding air movement. The mounding on the backside of bunkers also create low spots that trapped water. The result was a golf course with cool season grasses in a region with notoriously hot, humid summer weather and a less-than-ideal microclimate. New bunkering along the left side of the dogleg twelfth “ Green set out to bring the holes back down to earth and create a more natural looking, older style” Photo: Congressional CC/James Lewis