Course Is About To Change

By Ishita Singh
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 6, 2009

As the AT&T National wrapped up yesterday, golfers turned their thoughts to the future of the famed Blue Course at Congressional Country Club.

The course will close for two years to undergo a redesign that will make it U.S. Open-ready for 2011, and golfers wondered what the course would look like in two years. The USGA prefers its courses tough, and adding length to the Blue Course, which is currently 7,255 yards, would make it more appropriate for the Open.

"They're going to make it longer, which they probably need to do," Fred Couples said. "It's already tough enough, but the length will make it harder."

There are plans in place to stretch the par-4 18th from its current 466 yards and to redesign No. 16, which is 579 yards, as a par 4. It was a par 5 this weekend. No. 6 also is expected to expand from its 518 yards and play as a par 5 (it is currently a par 4). Additionally there are rumors they will lengthen No. 10, now a 218-yard par 3, by playing off the back tee.

"There's a few tees they need to put in to make the holes a little longer," Justin Rose said. "On 18, we're now hitting little wedges into that hole where if you're hitting 6s or 7s, it becomes a little more of a challenge."

Three-time major winner Vijay Singh thought that adding more rough and narrowing the fairways would also benefit the course before the Open.

"It's always a good test, and Congressional is tough without the roughs, but [with them], the U.S. Open is going to be really, really big," Singh said.

Softer greens led to some eye-popping rounds this weekend, including tournament course-record 62s by third-place finisher Anthony Kim in the first round and runner-up Hunter Mahan yesterday. The USGA will firm up the greens so that the course plays harder and faster for the Open. Though plans are to redo the greens to the same specifications that they are now, many golfers worried that the USGA's plans will change a classic course.

"It's a great golf course, just a good traditional, old course," Charley Hoffman said. "These are the ones that are the most fun to play. I don't think they should change anything."

Though golfers debated the merits of altering the course, they agreed that there would be great crowds for an Open at Congressional.

"The D.C. people have always come out for golf," Steve Elkington said. "It's going to be great for the U.S. Open."

Though there was a lot of speculation about the future of the layout, there was no doubt among golfers that Congressional will make a good Open course.

"It'll make a great venue, of course," Rose said. "Apart from the traffic on River Road -- they need to figure that out."

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