SBD/June 20, 2011/Events and Attractions

Will Congressional Remain In Rotation To Host U.S. Open Tournament?

Many feel this year's low scores might push Congressional out of U.S. Open rotation
Congressional Country Club "received some criticism from players over the weekend," but most "seemed to understand that the USGA never got the course it truly wanted" for the U.S. Open, according to Barry Svrluga of the WASHINGTON POST. USGA Exec Dir Mike Davis said, "I would say the only downer really has been that the golf course, we've had so much rain, we never got it firm." U.S. Open sites have been named through '19, but the USGA could bring the event back to the DC area in '26, when the U.S. will be "celebrating its 250th birthday." Congressional '11 U.S. Open Committee co-Chair Ben Brundred said, "In the preliminary discussions, the concept of here, 250th anniversary, the U.S. Open -- it seems to make sense to a lot of people." Davis said, "There’s such an appeal to that point. First of all, to get to the middle Atlantic, to get to the nation’s capital, infrastructure-wise, it works. There’s lots of land. It’s great to do an event. It’s good for spectators. The golf course certainly is a great test, and so there’s no reason we wouldn’t come back" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/20). However, YAHOO SPORTS' Jonathan Wall wrote under the header, "Congressional A Future U.S. Open Site? Don't Bet On It." Players "didn't just annihilate the course in Bethesda, Maryland, they turned the most diabolical major championship into a member-guest, where birdies were needed in bunches to stay in contention." It is "clear from Rory McIlroy's record-setting performance that Congressional didn't have any teeth." Recent courses in the Open rotation "usually get a shot to stay in the mix unless things totally go awry." Things "definitely went awry this year." While "you'd like to think Congressional would get a shot to redeem itself, after this failed attempt, the odds of seeing the course in the mix anytime soon are about as good as a 15-handicap getting into next year's field at Olympic Club" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/19).

RETURN TRIP IN THE CARDS? The topic of whether Congressional should host another U.S. Open was debated by GOLF.com's weekly roundtable, and SI's Alan Shipnuck said, "Let's hope not. This course is criminally boring." SI's Rick Lipsey said, "If the answer is yes, it's only because it's near DC, and that is a cool place to play a U.S. Open. The course is definitely not Open worthy, though." SI Golf Group Managing Editor Jim Herre said it would return "if for no other reason than DC is a terrific golf market." SI.com's Gary Van Sickle said, "The Washington market is big and lucrative and desirable. The fans here brought a definitive buzz." SI's John Garrity noted he had "always described Congressional as unmemorable, but this Open changed my mind." Garrity: "The new par-3 10th hole, and making the old 17th the new finishing hole, gives it a character it didn't possess before." Van Sickle added, "The new 10th hole, with the theater around that green and the 18th, is one of the most exciting spots in major championship golf. There's electricity in the air there, a real buzz. Plus it looks great on TV" (GOLF.com, 6/20).

DOES IT NEED TO GET RID OF AT&T NATIONAL? Congressional hosts the annual PGA Tour AT&T National every July, but GOLF WORLD's Geoff Shackelford cites sources as saying that the course's members are "looking to get out of that deal because the event is too much of a disruption in their prime golf season." Freeing the course of the AT&T would "make the club more attractive for a return U.S. Open," though it "still must overcome the new perception that the Rees Jones-renovated course does not present a stern enough challenge." Davis indicated that Congressional hosting the AT&T "is a huge drawback that impacted early-week attendance." Shackelford notes unlike California venues hosting regular Tour events, Congressional "presents the same golf course conditions at the national championship as the July stop experiences." Congressional is "locked into the AT&T National for three years" (GOLF WORLD MONDAY, 6/20). This year's AT&T National will be played at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa. (THE DAILY).
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