BETHESDA, Md. -- Rebuilding all 18 greens on the Blue Course at Congressional CC was going to be a tall task no matter when the project was undertaken. Yet when club officials decided to take on the endeavor in July 2009, less than two years before the course was to host the U.S. Open, many wondered aloud if there would be enough time for the new bent-grass greens to grow in and be suitable for hosting a major championship.
Ten months removed from when the course reopened and six weeks before the championship proper, USGA executive director Mike Davis gave Congressional's putting surfaces his unconditional endorsement.
"We couldn't be more pleased with how they've turned out," Davis told Golf World during Monday's media day. "It wasn't something that we were requesting; they did it so that they would hold up under the summer heat here each year. But they're as good as we've seen here."
Davis is so happy with the conditions that he and championship committee chairman Tom O'Toole believe they'll be able to set them at 14-14¿ on the stimpmeter for this year's Open. "It will allow us to really take advantage of the contours of the greens in terms of choose hole locations," Davis said. "That way we'll be able to test players mentally in terms of how they approach each hole."
More than the greens have changed since the Open was last at Congressional in 1997. The par-3 18th is gone, replaced with a new par 3 (the course's 10th) that swaps the position of the tee and green. "It's something that had been kicked around for a while," director of golf John Lyberger told Golf World, noting that the club's board fell one vote shy of making the change in the 1970s. "It's a much better routing." The former 17th will now play as a 525-yard par-4 18th, making it among the more formidable closing holes in championship golf.
Entries for the 111th U.S. Open closed April 28 with exactly 8,300 accepted from golfers representing all 50 states, Washington D.C., and 66 foreign countries.
-- Ryan Herrington