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Congressional Country Club (Blue Course) Redesign Summary – 1989 To 2010

Congressional Country Club (Blue Course)
Hole No. 10 – Russell Kirk/

Note: In 2009, all of the greens on the Blue Course were rebuilt to USGA specifications. Other course changes are noted in chronological order below.

No. 1 Par 4 402 yards

1989: A bold new bunker was built left of the landing area. A series of four bunkers was built to the right, replacing an old bunker that was a little closer to the center of the fairway. A new green was built with bunkers left front, right and right rear. Grassy hollows were created left rear and left of the green.

2009: The fairway was narrowed and shifted to the right, adjacent to the drive zone bunkers on the right side.

 No. 2 Par 3 233 yards

1989: The championship tee was lengthened and elevated. A new green was built at a considerably lower elevation than the previous green. Four bunkers were carved into a ridge to the right of the putting surface. Also, two bunkers were built at the left front of the green to protect the left pin position.

No. 3 Par 4 468 yards

1989: A new intermediate tee was built. Grassy hollows were constructed short and to the right of the first landing area. Three bunkers were strategically located beyond the grassy hollows. Each repositioned bunker narrows the landing zone and is also more penal in terms of escape. The green was lowered and rebuilt with proper pitch in order to hold a well-played shot. Two bunkers were built left of the putting surface. A bunker protects the approach to the right side and another bunker is located to the right of the green. A grassy hollow was created between these two bunkers and extends toward the landing area.

2007: A new back tee was built, lengthening the hole to its current yardage.

2009: The fairway was shifted to the right adjacent to the right fairway bunkers.

 No. 4 Par 4 460 yards

1989: Originally, this hole required a completely blind tee shot. After a major cut was made, the fairway was elevated. The landing area is now completely visible from the tee. Rolls and grassy hollows were created on the left between the first landing area and the green. A new green was built with more usable pin positions. Bunkers flank the right and left side on the approach. Grassy hollows are located to the right rear and rear of the green.

2009: A new back tee was added, lengthening the hole to 460 yards. In addition, the rolls on the left side of the fairway were removed and the fairway was shifted to the left in the landing zone for the drive, creating a gentle left-to-right dogleg.

 No. 5 Par 4 413 yards

1989: A series of three bunkers was cut into the hill left of the dogleg. Grassy hollows and rolls serve to contain shots and turn the hole on the right. A new green was built with a long bunker on the left. A deep sculptured bunker protects the right portion of the putting surface. Also, a bunker flanked by grassy hollows right and left was added directly behind the green.

2005: A new back tee was added.

 No. 6 Par 5 558 yards

1989: Two cuts were made on this hole for better visibility and definition. The first was a minor cut in front of the tee to the first landing area. A second cut was made in the second landing area, eliminating a hill that blocked a view of the green. Two new fairway bunkers were added on the right and a frame was built from that point to the second landing area, where an additional bunker was built on the right side. The bunker on the hillside to the left was eliminated. The green was rebuilt and slightly elevated. Two bunkers replaced the one bunker front left. The green, protected by a water hazard, now has three different levels offset by modest transitions.

2007: A new tee was added, lengthening No. 6 to 558 yards. With the conversion of this hole from a par four to a par five for championship play, total par for the 2011 U.S. Open will be 71, one more than the 1997 U.S. Open.

 No. 7 Par 3 173 yards

1989: This hole was formerly a sharply uphill par three. The putting surface was not visible, and a bunker in front of the green blocked the view to the entrance. The tee was elevated considerably to eliminate the uphill feeling. The green was rebuilt and lowered, leaving a slope in the rear. Three bunkers protect the left side of the green, with a large bunker defending the right side. A large grassy swale flanks the left side. This visual change of this hole is significant.

 No. 8 Par 4 354 yards

1989: Two new bunkers were built right of the landing area to fortify the dogleg and ‘pivot’ the hole. One is a large sculptured bunker fronted by a smallish bunker. A new green was built with subtle contours, as this is one of the smallest greens on the golf course. The putting surface is surrounded by five bunkers and a grassy hollow.

2009: Ridges with pockets located left of the landing area were removed in order to shift the landing area for the drive to the left.

 No. 9 Par 5 637 yards

1989: Fairway bunkers were located on both sides of the first landing area. These bunkers were staggered, with the one on the left shorter than the one on the right. A grassy hollow was located short of the right fairway bunker. The second landing area was regraded, and the original left-to-right slope was eliminated. This area was widened and framed on the right to create a more generous landing zone with a valley appearance. To the right of the drive zone, terraces and pockets were added to stop slightly errant shots from rolling completely down the hill toward the seventh hole. The green was also substantially changed. Three bunkers were cut into the face of the slope on the right side. Bunkers were also located left front and left rear of the green. Terraces and pockets were created on the hillside in front of the green to keep short approach shots from rolling to the bottom of the hill. This is a dramatically improved golf hole.

2007: A new back tee was added 30 yards behind the existing championship tee, bringing the hole’s total length to 637 yards.

 No. 10 Par 3 218 yards

2006: The 10th hole is an entirely new golf hole built on the location of the original 18th hole. The hole was reversed. The elevated tees provide an excellent view of a green positioned at the edge of a lake and protected by bunkers on its right and rear sides. This new hole represents as one of the most significant changes made to the Blue Course.

 No. 11 Par 4 494 yards

1989: A small back tee was added to maintain the original yardage since the hole was shortened when the green was rebuilt. A cut was made in the second landing area to enhance visibility to the green surface and the pond adjacent to the green. A small bunker was positioned in the second landing area on the left. The green was built closer to the pond, with three bunkers protecting the left side. A grassy hollow built behind the green drains into the pond. 2009: After two fairway bunkers on the right side of the landing area were removed, the fairway was shifted to the right adjacent to the stream.

 No. 12 par 4 470 (401) yards

1989: The landing area was lowered, expanded on the left and regraded to eliminate the original crown. It now pitches from right to left as the hole flows. Previously, the fairway bunker was not visible, even from the highest tee. A bunker was rebuilt at the far end of the fairway and is now in plain view. Grassy pockets were created beyond this area to keep long drives from rolling farther down the hill. The green, rebuilt on a diagonal, is protected on the left by two bunkers and on the right by a large sculptured bunker. A grassy hollow was located in the rear to keep slightly errant shots from rolling into the woods.

 No. 13 Par 3 193 yards

1989: This par three changed dramatically both from a visual and playability perspective. The tee was elevated approximately eight feet and the green was lowered. Previously, this was a relatively long-iron shot to a very shallow green. Now one of the larger greens on the course, it is protected on the right by a large sculptured bunker and on the left by two smaller deep bunkers. Two berms were built behind the green to frame the shot. Since the green is now of ample size, four distinct levels were created. Such a design rewards a shot placed on the proper level, while requiring a putt across significant transitions from a shot played farther from the pin and landing on a different level.

 No. 14 Par 4 467 yards

1989: The tee was rebuilt and elevated. A major cut was made from the tee to the landing area, which was elevated to provide visibility from all of the tees. A ladies tee was located to the far left. Previously this hole had little if any definition. Now every feature can be seen from tee to green. Pockets and hollows parallel the landing zone and approach area before the fairway climbs uphill to the green. The new putting surface is lower than the original. Three bunkers protect the left side; a lone bunker protects the right. This is basically a two-level green enhanced by grassy hollows to the right and right rear.

 No. 15 Par 4 491 yards

1989: This hole never really set up well for championship play as it was previously designed. The original fairway bunkers on the left forced tee shots to the right, over the hill and into the trees. Those bunkers were eliminated and replaced by grassy hollows. A series of new bunkers now parallel the right side of the landing area. These bunkers act as a penalty, but also protect stray shots from going down the hill and into the wooded area. The green was rebuilt on a diagonal from left-to-right. Three well-proportioned bunkers replaced two bunkers on the right side. The bunker on the left was replaced by a grassy hollow. The bunker in the left rear protects the open entrance portion of the green.

2007: A new tee was built for the 2011 U.S. Open, lengthening the hole to 491 yards.

 No. 16 Par 5 579 yards

1989: The tees were elevated in the rear and stepped down so that the fairway landing area is fully visible. The hole originally had no fairway bunkers in the first landing area. Two bunkers each were added on the left and right. The approach to the green was cut down for visibility, as this green was virtually blind prior to the revisions. The green was also elevated approximately five feet. A series of four bunkers were located closer to the tree line on the approach to the green on the right. A large sculptured bunker protects the left portion of the green surface. Short of this area, grassy hollows were built to replace a sand bunker. The rest of the green is framed by grassy hollows. A swale located in front of the green makes the target green appear a little more elevated than it is.

2010: The bunkers in the first landing area were reconfigured. The drive zone bunkers on the left were shifted farther out in the range of 300 to 330 yards from the back tee. An additional fairway bunker was added on the right side of the first landing area beyond the existing bunkers. The rear tee will be utilized for the upcoming championship.

 No. 17 Par 4 437 yards

1989: The fairway landing area was regraded and widened to appear as a valley. Previously, shots hit in this fairway went over the crown of the hill, were not visible and sometimes kicked forward toward the green, only to remain on a downhill slope. The grading and extension of the fairway closer to the green should eliminate this type of lie. The far end of the first landing area is stepped down with two grassy hollows and terraces. The new green at this hole is noticeably different from the previous design. Four bunkers and a grassy hollow surround the left portion of the putting surface. The right portion of the green is protected by a large bunker cut into the hillside. The green slopes from right to left. A grassy hollow was located left of the series of bunkers to the left of the green.

No. 18 Par 4 521 yards

NOTE: The 18th hole on the Blue Course played as the 17th hole until 2007. It was, however, played as the 18th hole when Ken Venturi won the U.S. Open at Congressional in 1964.

1989: A cut was made from the tee toward the landing area so that golfers playing this hole could be seen from the tee. The green is a peninsula angled into the pond. Previously, a bunker was located on the right quite distant from the green surface. Two new bunkers were located adjacent to the green on the right. There are two bunkers in the rear, located close the putting surface. They are not visible from the fairway. This green ties directly into the existing fairway grade so that shots can roll onto it. Players who fear the water at the left and rear can lay up short of the green.

2009: A new back tee was added approximately 50 yards behind the existing back tee. For the 2011 U.S. Open, the 18th hole will play as a downhill 521-yard par four.

Congressional Country Club (Blue Course)
Hole No. 18 – Photo Courtesy of Russell Kirk/