Cross Creek Golf Club in Beltsville opened two years ago this month, and already it has achieved what many clubs wait years to do: host a professional golf tournament.
The public course, nestled among a community of homes off Briggs Chaney Road, hosted the inaugural Children's Hospital Futures Golf Classic last weekend. The Futures Tour is the official developmental tour of the LPGA, with the top five money winners of 2004 earning their LPGA Tour cards for the 2005 season.
Cross Creek finalized a three-year deal with the Futures Tour in January to host the event, with proceeds benefiting Children's Hospital in D.C. According to Chris Osche, sales manager at the club, Cross Creek approached Futures Tour officials last year about bringing another yearly event to the Baltimore-Washington area. Hunters Oak in Queenstown -- just east of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge -- will host a Futures Tour event later this month.
"They were looking for host sites," said Osche. "The LPGA could play here, but [the players] would chew it up [score very low]. Cross Creek is set up well for this level of players. It's a good challenge."
Tour rookie Danielle Downey of Spencerport, N.Y., agreed.
"It's very narrow, so tee shots are key. You can't spray the golf ball here. You have to be decisive and trust your swing," said Downey, who finished tied for 13th place after Sunday's rain forced cancellation of the final round. Courtney Wood, the second-round leader at 6 under par, was named champion and won $9,800.
At 6,044 yards, the course did not play particularly long, but trees line many of the holes, threatening troublesome lies for any ball that strayed too far off the fairway.
"There's a lot of trouble out there. This is probably one of the toughest courses we have played. I'd say top three [most difficult]. Some might say the hardest," said Downey, who is currently 18th on the money list with $16,244 .
Players agreed the course was in fantastic condition. Julie Turner was impressed, especially given the heavy rains in the days leading up to Friday's first round.
"They brought in truckloads of sand [for the flooded bunkers], raked the bunkers, cleaned them all up," Turner said. "They did an incredible job."
The only disappointing aspect of the weekend was the attendance; organizers estimated that about 1,000 tickets were sold. Paul Sherman of Gaithersburg and Russ Hamilton of New York were among the few who saw the action.
"It's interesting to see the girls on the way up," said Sherman. "It's the love of the game and the lure of the LPGA that brings them out."