Congressional Country Club

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Congressional Country Club
Clubhouse in 2007, 10th tee in foreground
Club information
Location Bethesda, Maryland
Established 1924
Type Private
Total holes 36
Tournaments hosted AT&T National
(2007–09, 2012–14)
U.S. Open
(1964, 1997, 2011)
PGA Championship
Booz Allen Classic
Kemper Open
Blue Course
Designed by Devereux Emmet,
Robert Trent Jones,[1]
Par 72 / 70 (71 for
2011 U.S. Open)
Length 7,574 yards (6,926 m)
Course rating 75.4
Slope rating 142
Gold Course
Designed by Devereux Emmet,
George Fazio,
Tom Fazio[2]
Par 71
Length 6,844 yards (6,258 m)
Course rating 73.6
Slope rating 135

Congressional Country Club is a country club and golf course in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Congressional opened in 1924 and its Blue Course has hosted three U.S. Opens and a PGA Championship. Founding life members include William H. Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. It is currently an annual stop on the PGA Tour, with the AT&T National hosted by Tiger Woods. The Tournament is now known as the Quicken Loans National. Previously, Congressional hosted the Kemper Open until its move to nearby TPC at Avenel in 1987. While Avenel was under renovation in 2005, the tournament returned to Congressional, then known as the Booz Allen Classic. Congressional hosted its third U.S. Open in 2011. Tournament winners at Congressional have included Rory McIlroy, Ken Venturi, Ernie Els, Justin Rose and Tiger Woods, among many others.

The courses[edit]

Congressional has two 18-hole golf courses: the world-renowned Blue Course and the Gold Course. The Blue Course was designed by Devereux Emmet and has been renovated over the years by numerous architects, including Donald Ross, Robert Trent Jones and most recently by Rees Jones. The course was included in the Links series, and in 2011 is to be available for the Virtual Championship at World Golf Tour.

Both courses are known for their rolling terrain, tree-lined fairways, and wide challenging greens. Water hazards also come into play on both courses.

Blue Course[edit]

18th hole (formerly the 17th) of the Blue Course

The Blue Course has hosted all of the significant golf tournaments contested at Congressional. The course is often considered among the best 100 courses in the United States; Golf Digest ranked it 89th in its 2006 listing of the 100 Greatest Golf Courses. In 2007, Golf Digest ranked it 86th in America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses. The Blue Course has been redesigned by Robert Trent Jones in 1957 and Rees Jones twice, in 1989 and 2006. The course measures 7,574 yards (6,926 m) from the back tees. It is a par 72 (but plays as a par 71 for all PGA tour events, with hole 11 reduced to a par 4) with a course and slope rating of 75.4/142. Bent grass is used for the fairways and for the greens. Until renovated in 2009, Annual Bluegrass (Poa annua) was used for the greens.[3]

18th hole[edit]

The Blue Course was originally designed to finish on a par-three 18th hole, playing over the lake to a green that finished in a natural amphitheatre below the clubhouse. The USGA has long held a dislike towards par-threes for finishing holes, as they are perceived as anticlimactic and (in most cases) do not require the player to hit an accurate tee-shot with a driver, which can sometimes be difficult to execute under the extreme pressure of a major championship.

In order to avoid such a conflict, the USGA has employed various course configurations over the years to allow tournaments to be played over the Blue Course without finishing on the par-three 18th. For the 1964 U.S. Open (and 1976 PGA Championship), as well as for the Kemper Opens played in the 1980s, two holes from the adjoining Gold Course were inserted into the routing in order to allow the par-four 17th hole of the Blue Course (long considered the most demanding hole on the course) to be played as the 18th instead.

During the 1995 U.S. Senior Open, it was decided to use the existing par-three 18th for the time, but it was played out of order as the 10th. However, this proved to be logistically difficult, as there was a rather long walk around the lake to get from the 9th green to the 10th tee, followed by another as the players had to double back to get to the 11th tee following completion of the 10th. The USGA broke with tradition for the 1997 U.S. Open, and played the entire Blue Course in its original order and finished with the par-3 18th, which was the first time in history that the tournament had finished on a par-three.

The USGA was unsatisfied with their experiment, as most of the drama surrounding the 1997 Open had been decided at the 17th hole. With the creation of the new tour event in 2007 as well as the upcoming 2011 U.S. Open, it was decided to solve the problem once and for all. The club voted to permanently reverse the direction of the 18th hole, and Rees Jones was brought in to design a new par-3, which now plays in the opposite direction to the old 18th. The new hole now plays as the 10th, with the rest of the routing shifted so that the original par-four 17th hole now plays as the permanent 18th. A long walk from the new 10th green to the 11th tee remains, but not nearly as far as the old configuration.


Congressional Country Club - Blue Course
Tee Rating/Slope 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Out 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Total
Championship -- / -- 402 233 466 470 413 555 173 354 636 3702 218 494 471 193 467 490 579 437 523 3872 7574
Par U.S. Open 4 3 4 4 4 5 3 4 5 36 3 4 4 3 4 4 5 4 4 35 71
Blue 75.4 / 142 402 211 455 427 407 544 174 354 602 3576 218 507 415 187 454 439 579 437 466 3702 7278
Gold 73.2 / 135 378 184 418 414 383 488 157 345 544 3311 170 489 372 163 408 419 550 420 425 3416 6727
White 70.6 / 131 339 160 382 383 379 470 131 336 506 3086 139 464 346 137 338 397 515 394 383 3113 6199
Red 69.2 / 126 322 153 365 407 368 455 117 327 448 2962 109 458 340 134 332 400 446 375 379 2973 5935
Par Men's 4 3 4 4 4 5 3 4 5 36 3 5 4 3 4 4 5 4 4 36 72
Par Women's 4 3 4 5 4 5 3 4 5 37 3 5 4 3 4 5 5 4 4 37 74
Handicap Men's 11 15 7 1 9 5 17 13 3 16 10 12 18 4 2 6 8 14
Handicap Women's 13 17 5 9 1 7 15 11 3 16 10 12 18 14 6 2 8 4

Gold Course[edit]

First tee of the Gold Course

The Gold Course has always been the shorter course in comparison to the Blue Course. It has been renovated twice; with George Fazio and Tom Fazio redoing the final nine holes in 1977. In 2000, the course got a complete renovation by Arthur Hills. Not only did Hills lengthen the course, he also reconstructed the tees, fairways, greens, and cart paths. The course is now as challenging as the Blue Course. It ranked 5th Greatest Golf Course in the state of Maryland according to Golf Digest Greatest Golf Courses in 2007. It now measures 6,844 yards (6,258 m) from the back tees. It is a par 71 with a slope rating of 73.6/135. Bent grass is used for the fairways and Poa annua grass is used for the greens.[4]

Tournaments held at Congressional[edit]

Major championships[edit]

Year Tournament Winner Winner's
share ($)
 1964  U.S. Open United States Ken Venturi 17,000
1976 PGA Championship United States Dave Stockton 45,000
1995 U.S. Senior Open United States Tom Weiskopf 175,000
1997 U.S. Open South Africa Ernie Els 465,000
2011 U.S. Open Northern Ireland Rory McIlroy 1,440,000
  • All held on Blue Course

The first major championship at Congressional was the U.S. Open in 1964, won by Ken Venturi in oppressive heat with a score of two under par in the last Open to finish with two rounds on Saturday. A dozen years later, the PGA Championship was held at Congressional in 1976. With the course playing as a par 70, 1970 champion Dave Stockton sank a par-saving putt on the 72nd hole to win his second PGA Championship by one stroke at 281 (+1). The second U.S. Open at Congressional was played in 1997. Ernie Els, the 1994 champion, won his second U.S. Open with a score of four under par. The Blue Course hosted the U.S. Open in 2011, and 22-year-old Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland won his first major with a final score of 16 under par, a U.S. Open record, with a victory margin of 8 shots.[5]

Congressional has hosted one senior major golf championship; the 1995 U.S. Senior Open, won by Tom Weiskopf.

Other tournaments[edit]

The Kemper Open, later called the Booz Allen Classic, was played at Congressional eight times. Notable winners include Craig Stadler, John Mahaffey, Fred Couples, Greg Norman, and Sergio García. The 2007 AT&T National, sponsored and hosted by Tiger Woods, was played at Congressional July 5–8 and was won by K.J. Choi of South Korea. The 2008 AT&T was played July 3–6 and won by Anthony Kim. Tiger Woods was unable to play due to surgery on his knee. The 2009 AT&T National was played July 2–5 and won by host, Tiger Woods. The 2012 playing of the AT&T National saw a much harder golf course than the U.S. Open, with only ten players finishing under par. The tournament was won once again by Tiger Woods at 8 under par. Starting in 2014, Congressional will host the renamed Quicken Loans National on even years, alternating with other venues in the D.C. area.

The course has hosted two USGA amateur golf tournaments: the U.S. Junior Amateur of 1949, won by Gay Brewer, and the U.S. Women's Amateur of 1959, won by Barbara McIntire. The 2009 U.S. Amateur had originally been scheduled to be played at Congressional, but the event was relocated in order to allow the club to make further changes to the course prior to the 2011 US Open.[6] This scheduling change allowed for the AT&T National to be held in 2009 at Congressional.

Notable past members[edit]

Members of Congressional have included:

Many Washington, D.C. dignitaries attended the 1997 U.S. Open. Herbert Hoover served as the Congressional's first President after the club was organized.


Congressional's expansive clubhouse is the largest clubhouse in the United States. It was designed in 1924 by architect Philip M. Jullien (1875-1963).[7] Congressional Country Club has an indoor duck pin bowling alley, tennis club, grand ballroom, one indoor and a lap pool with diving boards, a kids pool and main pool, fitness center and grand foyer. Food and Beverage outlets consist of The House Grill, The Chop House, The Founders Pub, The Pavilion, The Main Dining Room, The Stop and Go, Midway House and Beverage Carts. It also has 21 overnight guest accommodations and a paddle tennis area. It has hosted a number of famous weddings. It also has a spa, massage services, indoor jacuzzi, men's and women's locker rooms.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Blue Course at Congressional Country Club". 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-24. 
  4. ^ "Gold Course at Congressional Country Club". 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-24. 
  5. ^ "Congressional (Md.) Country Club To Host 2011 U.S. Open; 2009 U.S. Amateur". USGA news (United States Golf Association). 2004-10-06. Archived from the original on September 23, 2005. Retrieved 2006-06-24. 
  6. ^ "Southern Hills To Host 2009 U.S. Amateur". United States Golf Association. 2007-09-21. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-22. 
  7. ^ Kelly, Clare Lise (1976). "Architects and Builders" (PDF). Places from the Past (10th anniversary edition): 328. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°59′46″N 77°10′37″W / 38.996°N 77.177°W / 38.996; -77.177