Columbia Country Club
The Columbia Country Club, located in Chevy Chase, Maryland, is the successor of the Columbia Golf Club, which was organized on September 29, 1898 by nine men. Originally there were twenty members. The club opened in 1911. The first location of the Club was on the east side of Brightwood Avenue, afterwards known as Georgia Avenue, in the neighborhood of Schuetzen Park. It stands as one of the oldest and most prestigious country clubs in the United States. Through its history, the club has counted among its members two Five Star Generals, Omar Bradley and Hap Arnold, along with countless politicians, journalists, CEOs and lobbyists.
The present site on Connecticut Avenue was purchased in 1909 from the Chevy Chase Land Company. The certificate of incorporation is dated August 25, 1909. The design of Frederick B. Pyle for the club house was selected from among four submitted. The golf course was designed by Walter Travis, a noted golfer of the day. Although there is no newspaper record of the event, the opening of the new Club occurred on January 6, 1911. Early Club minutes were lost. The course was one of the favorite courses of President Woodrow Wilson.
The U.S. Open was held at the Club in 1921, won by Englishman, Jim Barnes. President Warren Harding presented the Champion's Trophy. With the exception of the eighth hole, there have been changes (for the better) on all holes of the course. Several acres were added to the original 126 acres (51 ha) in the thirties. Other improvements, such as new tee boxes and a better irrigation system, were added in the early part of 2012.
The first swimming pool (donated by Donald Woodward) opened in 1925. The Olympic-sized pool was built much later and the entire area was totally renovated in 1978. A profusion of tennis courts have existed from the beginning of the Club. Platform tennis courts were added in the sixties. Major changes have been made on the 15th, 16th and 17th holes of the golf course, made possible by the construction of a water line through the area by the WSSC under its power of eminent domain. In addition, 2009 saw the completion of a major renovation and addition of the club house, adding an indoor swimming facility, upgraded fitness center, new bowling alley (duckpin), locker rooms, ice skating rink (winter only) and additional parking among other things. Throughout its rich history, only three head golf professionals ever worked at the club, Fred McLeod, William Strasbaugh, and Robert Dolan (its current head PGA Professional).
Columbia has a history of counting some of the best amateur golfers in the Washington, DC metropolitan area among its membership. Martin R. West III, a multiple club champion at Columbia, made the cut in 1976 U.S. Open, has competed in 19 United States Amateurs, is a former US Walker Cup team member, and has won numerous area tournaments including nine Maryland Amateurs. The annual club championship, contested in early September, is one of the most prestigious in the DC area. Columbia's WMGA A team has also been very successful, winning the competition multiple times (most recently 2012).
Columbia's is a course that favors shotmaking and finesse over the ability to drive the ball long distances. The natural topography of the area means that Columbia's course is very hilly, with tight fairways and small, undulating greens that are almost universally sloped back to front. Course superintendent Steve McCormick always keeps the Columbia greens at a very high speed, and rarely do they roll anything less than an 11.
A common saying among members and caddies is that "there are only two flat lies at Columbia, on the tee and in your pocket." Because of the layout, driving the ball long distances can often get a player in to trouble due to deep rough, side-hill lies, pot bunkers, and the aforementioned tight fairways. Almost every approach shot on the golf course plays significantly either uphill or downhill, including severe downhill plays on #2, #5, #12, #14, #15, and #16. #17 at Columbia is a truly unique hole, with only a 200-yard tee shot required to a short but wide section of fairway. From there, the player must chip straight uphill only 70 yards to a green sloped from front to back.
The signature hole, however, remains the par 3 16th, which, legend has it, served as Bobby Jones's inspiration for the 12th hole at Augusta National Golf Club. From one of three tee boxes, the hole plays to a very long, narrow green with three distinct levels that is guarded completely along the front by a large pond. Complicating matters are two pot bunkers, one in front of the green and one behind. The hole has been consistently rated among the best in the area, and was ranked by Washingtonian magazine locally.
Overall, the par 70 (35-35) course measures 6,800 yards (6,200 m) in length, with a course rating of 72.3 and slope rating of 139.
- Columbia Country Club official site
- Official Town of Chevy Chase History
- August 2009 Washington Examiner Article about the golf course