USGA debuts longer tougher Congressional CC

By Associated PressJuly 24, 2010, 5:15 am

BETHESDA, Md. – The Blue Course at Congressional Country Club is longer, tougher and not far from championship condition after a massive renovation that included rebuilding all 18 greens.

USGA officials showed off Congressional Friday, five weeks after it reopened and 11 months before it hosts next year’s U.S. Open.

The new greens are soft and slow – a concession to the scorching temperatures on the East Coast this summer – but Mike Davis, the USGA’s senior director of rules and competition, said the reconstruction will allow them to play firmer and faster than in previous events at Congressional.

The Blue Course hosted the 1997 U.S. Open and the PGA Tour’s AT&T National from 2007-2009.

Congressional, not the USGA, decided to rebuild the greens just two years before the Open, which Davis admitted made him nervous. The surfaces won’t have much time to mature, and any setbacks could have been disastrous.

“That is a short window,” Davis said. “Thankfully, they did such a superb job of construction.”

Congressional superintendent Mike Giuffre and his staff used global-positioning technology to replicate the existing contours. Players are unlikely to notice any differences, although Giuffre made subtle changes on several greens to allow for a wider variety of hole locations.

Ben Brundred Jr., co-chairman of Congressional’s U.S. Open committee, declined to say how much the changes cost. He did say that members paid to rebuild the greens and that all other costs were split between Congressional and the USGA.

The drastic move to rebuild all 18 greens was necessary, Giuffre said, to improve drainage and rid the greens of troublesome poa annua grass – which doesn’t hold up well during the Washington area’s sweltering summers. The new greens are a hybrid bentgrass with a deeper root structure.

Giuffre said he was still “babying” the greens by allowing the grass to get shaggy in the heat. “All in all, these young greens are holding up very well,” he said.

Davis has been hailed for bringing creativity back into the Open and rewarding aggressive shotmaking since he took over as the USGA’s setup guru in 2006. He hopes to continue that trend at Congressional.

The 6th hole, which played as a par 4 during the 1997 Open and the AT&T National, will be a reachable par 5 for the Open, meaning Congressional will play to a par of 71.

“We think it’s a better par 5. There’s much more risk-reward,” Davis said. “We get accused of taking 5’s and making them 4’s.”

Still, Congressional will have plenty of teeth, playing to 7,568 yards – more than 300 yards longer than in 1997. Davis installed new tees on seven holes, including the dramatic, downhill par-4 18th, which will play at 521 yards, forcing players to hit a mid-iron or more into the green.

The 18th played as No. 17 during the 1997 Open and turned out to be the decisive hole when Tom Lehman hit into the pond left of the green, leading to bogey. Ernie Els made par and won his second Open.

Congressional’s finishing hole until 2006 was a pedestrian par 3, but the hole has since been rebuilt and turned into No. 10.

USGA officials “let it be known that they would love to come back, but they didn’t want to finish on a par 3 again,” Brundred said.

The rest of the changes are subtle, intended to alter sight lines from the tee and bring more hazards into play. Davis moved, added or eliminated some fairway bunkers, including one on the brutal, uphill par-4 11th that prevented some balls from finding the creek down the right side.

“We think it’s a better golf course to test the greatest players in the world,” said Thomas J. O’Toole, chairman of the USGA’s championship committee. “We applaud the club and thank them for having the initiative and the vision to go ahead and make those changes.”

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

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Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

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Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm