District golfers, who in recent years have watched the Fort Dupont course close for good and Langston shut down temporarily, can look forward to better days.
Nine holes of Langston reopened last September after a year's shutdown, and the full 18 will reopen on April 15; a major rehabilitation of clubhouse and dining facilities at East Potomac Park is to be completed by June 1. Somewhat further in the future - National Park Service people hope by 1979 - is the long-planned new golf course at Oxon Cove, the former St. Elizabeths Farm on the Potomac.
At East Potomac Park, "we're upgrading the food and concession area and building a new pro shop and concessionaire's office," architect Jim Burrel said of the $165,000 project.
There will be dining all year inside the clubhouse and warm-weather dining outside under the portico.That should be a pleasant change from the present lean-to under glass.
National Park Service golf courses in the District - past and future - have traveled a rocky road. Management of the courses has been leased out. Severine Loeffler took over East Potomac Park in 1922 and thereafter the S.G. Loeffler Co. ran the courses at Langston, Orck Creek and Fort Dupont, as well.
Fort Dupont was closed after several incidents, the last a robbery at gunpoint of two off-duty policeman while they were golfing in July, 1969. The reson for the closing, according to Park Service spokesman George Berklacy, was economics.
It was a Catch 22 situation. Fort Dupont was not getting as much play as the other District courses because it was amore difficult (and, most players say, better) course. As fewer people played, it became less safe on its woodline hills. As it becomes less safe, even fewer people played.
Only a small part of the course was uprooted when a skating rink was built near Ely Place SE, but there are no plans to reopen for golf.
Langston, at 26th Street and Benning Road NE, has long been an endangered species. WHen the Oxon Cove plan was formulated in the mid-'60s, Park Service studies showed that the city could do without Langston.
A plan developed to convert Kingman Lake, the spur of the Anacostia River that borders the Langston course, into a swimming facility, but studies showed it would cost millions and the plan was scrapped. The golf course later survived an attempted takeover by the District government for public housing.
Finally, claiming it was losing money, Langston City Golf Corp., which replaced Loeffler as manager in 1974, turned it back to the Park Service, which closed it in September, 1975.
The course has reopened under the Park Service, which is looking to lease out management again. Langston continues to be under the gun and would become extinct if the proposed northeast spur of the Anacostia Freeway is ever built.The freeway would go right through the course.
Plans for the new Oxon Cove course have followed District sewage disposal developments.
The National Park Service got the swampy 170 acres near the east end of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in the mid-'50s. In the '60s a plan was accepted from designers Lawrence Halprin and Associates of San Francisco to develop a golf/marina complex.
But plans to use the area for solid waste disposal, which would also solve the problem of landfill for the golf course, were fought by residents of Forest Heights and by then-Sen. J. Glenn Beall Jr. (R-Md.). Eventually the landfill was approved.
The land is now covered with cinderlike material - waste, wood chips and grass mixture - but there is more sewage in Oxon Cove's future.
A sludge compost project, which is expected to be approved by the Environmentl Protection Agency, would take 17 acres for five years.
The compost plant would use land planned for two holes of the golf course (four holes are in the District, 14 on the Maryland side). But under current plans, two extra holes will be constructed where the practice are was to be. When the land reverts to the Park Service, the two originally proposed holes will be built and the extra holes will become a driving range.
Assuming the course is completed, golfers need not worry about having to play with clothespins on their noses. The methane gas that is a natural by-product of the waste is carried away in underground pipes.
If all goes well, the golfer instead can go to Oxon Cove looking for the sweet smell of birdies.