Window Shopping: Washington D.C

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 28, 2012, 11:59 am

Congressional Country Club, host of the AT&T National, is in an area west of Washington, D.C. rich with million-dollar homes and ritzy golf courses. Just a chip shot from Congressional are Avenel, Bethesda, Burning Tree, Chevy Chase, Columbia, and Kenwood. Just one problem: Unless you have connections, you can’t play any of these ultra-private clubs.

The good news is that there is an abundance of public options in the Washington area ranging from immaculate daily-fee courses to less-expensive, generally-older municipal facilities.

The public course closest to Congressional is Montgomery County muni Falls Road, which was spruced up in 2009, and can give your ego a boost. The par 70 measures 6,162 yards from the tips. For a more formidable challenge, Northwest (7,376 yards) in Silver Spring, is the toughest of Montgomery County’s nine government courses. It has wide fairways, huge greens, and plenty of 1960s-era parkland touches.

Hampshire Greens, also in Silver Spring, the newest and best-maintained county course, has interesting design features by Lisa Maki, but plays through a bustling housing development and rates reach $70 on the weekend. If looking for a more peace and lower greens fees, try rugged Little Bennett in Clarksburg, which has stunning mountain views, or quaint country course Poolesville, located 15 miles up River Road from Congressional, but feels hours away.

The best muni in the Washington area can be found 35 minutes south, off I-95 in Lorton, Va. Laurel Hill Golf Club, designed by Bill Love and built on land formerly occupied by a correctional institution, will host the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links and has been ranked the No. 7 municipal course in the nation by Links Magazine and No. 13 by Golfweek.

If arriving in Washington via BWI airport, strong courses with easy access from I-95 are Waverly Woods (Marriottsville), and Cross Creek (Beltsville). More out of the way, but definitely worth the trip is muscular, privately-owned Blue Mash (Laytonsville), virtually unchallenged as the best public course in Montgomery County.

The top publics near Dulles airport in Virginia are Fred Couples-designed masterpiece Westfields (Clifton), Gary Player-designed Raspberry Falls (Leesburg), under-the-radar gem Goose Creek Golf Club (Leesburg), 1757 (Dulles) and planned-community throwback Reston National.

The lone course easily accessed from Reagan National airport is one you might fly over on your way in or out. East Potomac Park offers minimally-maintained grounds but maximum fun. The greens fees are among the cheapest in the area despite its prime location on a man-made island in the Potomac River. This course is all about the views -- the river, Fort McNair, the D.C. Waterfront, and the Washington Monument – and the uniquely-democratic D.C. experience.

For those with enough time to venture outside the Beltway, there are stellar public courses in all directions. To the east are Lake Presidential Golf Club, an upscale revelation in Upper Marlboro, and Renditions Golf Club, a magnificently-manicured tribute course with holes replicating the island green at TPC Sawgrass, the church pew bunkers at Oakmont, and Amen’s Corner at Augusta. To the southeast is stunning Swan Point in Issue, Md., which has a scenic mix of wetlands and hardwood, providing a coastal-Carolina feel.

To the rapidly growing south, and for those willing to test the fickle fortunes of crowded I-95, there are a trio of standouts -- Deane Beman-designed Cannon Ridge Golf Club in Fredericksburg, a Rick Jacobson classic at Augustine Golf Club in Stafford, and beautifully-sculpted Old Hickory in Woodbridge.To the west, off I-66 in Virginia are reinvigorated Bull Run Golf Club in Haymarket, which plays in the shadow of the Blue Ridge mountains, Pleasant Valley (Chantilly) and its equally-challenging sister course South Riding Golf Club, both with intricate, challenging green complexes, and Stonewall (Gainesville), the public counterpart on Lake Manassas to private stalwart Robert Trent Jones.

For mountain majesty in Maryland, head up I-270 to Frederick County for its wealth of scenic daily-fee courses. Musket Ridge is the prettiest and most strategic of them all, while Whiskey Creek has the most varied and rugged design. Maryland National is the most interesting and isolated of them all. Or for the area's most supreme test open to the public, take on P.B. Dye Golf Club. 

Getty Images

Romo turns in even in PGA Tour debut

By Will GrayMarch 22, 2018, 3:00 pm

After stumbling out of the gates, Tony Romo has found his footing in his PGA Tour debut.

Playing in the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship on a sponsor exemption, Romo shot an even-par 36 for his opening nine holes in the Dominican Republic. The former NFL quarterback bogeyed his first two holes, but steadied the ship with three birdies from Nos. 4-8 while playing alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.

The early highlight of the round came at the par-4 fifth hole, where Romo drained a putt from across the green for his second straight birdie:

Romo has played as an amateur partner in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and has played individually in U.S. Open local qualifiers and mini-tour events as an amateur. But this marks his first attempt to gauge his game against the best players in the world who are not in Austin for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Romo, who plays to a plus-0.3 handicap, said earlier in the week that he expected some jitters once it came time to put a tee in the ground.

"You'll be nervous on Thursday on the first tee. Just going to be," Romo said. "I've got to get through the first three or four holes. If I can handle the nerves on the first three or four holes, I think that I'll settle in and hopefully just play the way I've been playing."

Click here to watch live first-round action on Golf Channel.

Getty Images

Kim's missing clubs show up at sporting goods store

By Will GrayMarch 22, 2018, 1:58 pm

More than a month after they were lost on an American Airlines flight, the clubs I.K. Kim used to win last year's Ricoh Women's British Open turned up on the sale rack of a California sporting goods store.

Kim's clubs became lost in late January when she flew from Miami to San Diego, with the airline suggesting she simply rent a new set. A few weeks later, Kim shot a "What's in the bag" television segment which according to a Golfweek report caught the eye of three good samaritans in the San Diego area.

The three men recognized Kim's clubs for sale at a local Play It Again Sports, with the major winner's tools listed at $60 each. The store even had Kim's tour bag, complete with her LPGA player badge. Kim filmed the reunion with her bag - containing wedges and a few hybrids, minus the head covers - at the Carlsbad police station:

Kim was back in southern California this week for the Kia Classic, where she'll begin play Thursday morning at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad.

Getty Images

New dad Garcia removes shoes, wins match

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 12:48 am

AUSTIN, Texas – In one of the day’s most explosive matches, Sergio Garcia rolled in an 8-footer for birdie at the 18th hole to defeat Shubhankar Sharma, 1 up, at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

The duo halved just nine holes on Day 1 at Austin Country Club, with Garcia going from 2 up through four holes to 1 down with five holes to play.

But the Spaniard rallied with five birdies over his final eight holes and pushed his record to 20-17-1 in the Match Play. He also gave himself his best chance to advance out of pool play since the format began in 2015.

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

The victory continued what has already been a memorable week for Garcia, whose wife, Angela, gave birth to the couple’s first child last Wednesday.

“I already feel like I’m a winner after what happened on Wednesday,” Garcia said. “Obviously, it's something that we're so, so happy and proud of and enjoying it as much as possible.”

The highlight of Garcia’s round on Wednesday came at the 12th hole when he took a drop on a cart path. After considering his options, he removed his shoes and hit his approach from 212 yards to 29 feet for a two-putt birdie to halve the hole.

“I have spikes. So if I don't take my shoes off, I'm going to slip. It's not the kind of shot that you want to slip,” Garcia said. “I had tried it a couple of times on practice swings and I was already slipping a little bit. So I thought I would just take my shoes off, try to get a little bit in front of the hole and it came out great.”