Tag Archives: golf course

The real red, white and blue in Washington

By Jeremy Walsh
ArtsPost staff writer

While walking up to 11th green on the Blue Course at East Potomac Park, it’s hard to imagine any golf course having a more beautiful backdrop.

With the Jefferson Memorial directly ahead, the Washington Monument just past that, and the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building peeking over the tall buildings to your right, and considering you’re on a magnificent, lush golf course in the first place, there is certainly no better view in all of Washington D.C.

Located minutes from the Jefferson Memorial (roughly two minutes by car, 10 minutes by foot), the East Potomac Park golf facility offers memorable experiences to golfers of all skill levels.

There are 36 holes of golf on three differently styled courses, a driving range with 100 stalls, several practice greens, and even a miniature golf course.  That alone is pretty remarkable for a public facility.

But the exceptionality of East Potomac is most noticeable while playing on the full-length, headliner Blue Course

Playing to a par-72, the Blue Course is a flat course that isn’t particularly long but does require accurate shot-making, offering a challenging and enjoyable experience to golfers of most skill levels.

Keeping the tee shot in the fairway is imperative, but not for typical reasons.  While there are only few marked hazards and several holes do run next to out-of-bounds areas, the real danger preventing golfers from finding their balls is the rough.

Many of the par-4 holes have thick rough, in the range of three to five inches, and if your shot drifts into this grass, it can take you the full five minutes allowed by the rules to find the ball.  This can get frustrating golfers who easily lose shots either direction off the tee (which is no doubt most golfers).

The thicker rough provides a unique opportunity compared to other public courses, which tend to have sligh

tly shorter rough.

The course is easily characterized as an open course, considering there aren’t many trees, almost no fairway bunkers and most of the holes run parallel to one or two other holes.  As a result, the ball tends to stay in-play, which frankly makes the experience more fun – nobody likes to go out to a course and lose 15 balls because the each shot requires almost professional precision.

Another reason most golfers should enjoy the Blue Course is the greens, which roll at a fair speed and are in great condition.  In fact, the lush color of the greens does as much for the beauty of the course and setting as do the n

ational monuments.

The two nines are fairly similar to one another, though the back nine does play slightly longer than the front.  The first few holes of each side away from downtown, while the closing holes play directly toward the Washington Monument.

On the front nine, the par-4 holes are all manageable, playing less than 400 yards for the men and around 275 for the women.  But the side makes up for it with two long par-5 holes.  The long third hole comes in at a massive 590 yards for the men, requiring three huge and accurate shots just to get on the green in regulation.

The par-3 eighth hole is the most picturesque spot on the course.  No matter what day you play that hole, the flagstick always seems to be directly in line with the Washington Monument.

The back nine features shorter par-5 and par-3 holes but the par-4 holes are longer, averaging nearly 375 yards, with two over 400 yards long, for the men and around 300 yards long for the women.  Because of the increased length of these holes, the back nine presents more of a challenge, but is still quite manageable.

Overall, the Blue Course is an excellent full-length public course, helping make the whole East Potomac facility be the most popular in Washington.  Though this popularity is a gift for management, it can be a curse for the patrons.  The course gets crowded on nice weekdays and jam-packed on the weekends, so be prepared for a slow-paced, potentially five-hour round.

Still, the entire facility is great for all golfers.  The Red Course is a nine-hole par-3 course, all of which are around 100 yards and ideal for beginning golfers.  The White Course is also a nine-hole course, with normal length par-3 and par-4 holes and presents a good test for average players.

All three courses at East Potomac Park, like the two other public course in Washington, are owned by the U.S. Park Service and managed by Golf Course Specialists Inc.

The facility has been an important part of the city’s history since the 1920s.  The first nine was built in 1921 and the subsequent three nines were constructed in 1923, 1924, and 1930 respectively, all by different, little-known course architects.

Despite its age, the course managers keep the facility in great shape, with the Blue Course being the best conditioned course in Washington.  With rounds moderately priced, at $27 on weekdays and $31 on the weekend, the Blue Course offers an affordable, enjoyable experience for all amateur golfers.

Scoring Redgate: Is it remarkable?

Redgate's par-5 14th hole

By Jeremy Walsh
ArtsPost staff writer

Redgate Municipal Golf Course is a challenging par-71, public course managed by the City of Rockville, Md., designed by local golf course architect Therman Donovan. Since its opening in 1974, Redgate has become a well-known opportunity for local golfers to test their skills.

But is the course really worth your 4 1/2 hours and $50?

Let’s evaluate the Redgate experience, scoring each hole individually, to see whether each part of the course is truly exceptional.

(The scoring system: decently designed holes, challenging and fair will be given a par.  Poor or below-average holes will get a bogey, and beautiful, exceptional holes will get a birdie. So, a good, worthwhile course would finish with a score right at par.)

1. Par-4, 376 yards

This uphill, dogleg-left hole is a good starting hole and sets the tone for the rest of the course.  There’s change in elevation, fairway bunkers and trees surrounding the green, all of which are constants at Redgate.  The hole requires two good shots to a manageable green, a solid test for a first hole.  Par

2.  Par-3, 168 yards

Players must hit over a small creek on this challenging par-3 that drops downhill significantly to a difficult, sloping green. The green looks beautiful from the tee, though the trees between there and the green are kind of an eyesore.  Par

3.  Par-4, 324 yards

Easily the most beautiful hole on the front nine.  The view from the tee box is simply magnificent, as some 100 yards of lake must be cleared before finding the fairway this short, uphill par-4.  Assuming you avoid the fairway bunkers and the trees, the second shot should settle nicely on an easy green.  Fun hole for golfers to all levels. Birdie

4. Par-5, 560 yards

A long hole featuring a lake between the fairway and a creek just in front of the green.  The approach shot is fun, as the fairway drops some 40 yards to the green.  The green is difficult, so try to stay below the hole to avoid a three-putt.  Par

5.  Par-4, 350 yards

Really nothing special.  The tee shot is blind and severely uphill with trees on either side.  The hole turns slightly to the left for the approach shot to a huge green.  Don’t miss the green to the right because the ground is hard and the grass is poor.   Par

6.  Par-3, 137 yards

Another picturesque hole.  This magnificent, short par-3 requires a simple shot in between three green-side bunkers.  Be careful with a green that slopes pretty significantly toward the front.  Birdie

7.  Par-4, 362 yards

This hole begins a short stretch of holes that straddle the line between average and poor.  The seventh hole squeaks by in the former, barely because it’s challenging and the fairway and green are in good shape.  The one knock is that it runs parallel to the parking lot, and average golfers don’t need the added stress of financial repercussions for their tee shot to the left.  Par

8.  Par-4, 423 yards

Again, here’s another hole that barely makes the grade.  Players can’t see the fairway from the tee on this long par-4 (not being able to see the fairway or green really takes away from a hole’s quality).  Once you reach that fairway though, the view of the green is exceptional, featuring an elevated putting surface surrounded by bunkers on three sides.  Par

9.  Par-4, 456 yards

The most challenging hole for the average golfer is also the least attractive.  The view to the green is what brings it down.  The fairway slopes awkwardly to the side on the left side and has a big, drooping tree blocking the right side.  The green is also needlessly big.  Overall, a poor way to finish a good-looking front nine.  Bogey

After nine holes, Redgate’s course design is pretty exceptional, and is sitting at 1-under-par.  Considering that par is a good score for all courses using this system, being better than that is awesome.  The two beautiful holes are much more memorable than the poor finishing holes.

10.  Par-4, 412 yards

This is the last in the aforementioned stretch of mediocre holes and like the others, is another long par-4 that demands two quality shots, though this green is the most challenging on the course so far.  The green is a slick beast, slanting drastically from right to left.  Here’s a case where challenge balances out unremarkable design.  Par

11.  Par-4, 309 yards

Just a remarkable, short par-4.  There are hazards on either side, but the tee box is some 20 yards above the green, tempting everyone to bring out the driver when a lay-up tee shot is the smart play.  For years, this green has had irrigation and disease problems but is finally in good shape.  Play smart and you’ll get the same score:  Birdie

12.  Par-4, 383 yards

Clearly the eyesore of the back nine.  The tee shot must carry up a slope of some 50 or 60 yards just to make to a part of the fairway.  The view to the green, surrounded by trees and out-of-bounds, is unspectacular, like the rest of the hole.  Bogey

13.  Par-4, 415 yards

This features yet another blind tee shot, with the green nowhere in sight.  From the fairway, you face another severe drop to the green.  Though blind tee shots are frustrating, there’s something beautiful about the view from above a well-manicured, bunker-surrounded green.  Par

14. Par-5, 507 yards

The 14th hole is the most spectacular on the course.  It’s a medium-length par-5 that plays downhill from the tee to a challenging green surrounded by long, deep bunkers.  The view from the tee box is simply stunning, with the nuances of the hole clearly visible.  Golfers know exactly the test before them; it’s a matter or being able to conquer.  Birdie

15.  Par-3, 138 yards

Here’s an average-looking, short par-3.  The shadows from the huge trees on either side disguise the green, throwing off one’s depth perception.  It’s tough to judge tee shot distance and the green is huge, making it a fun little hole.  Par

16.  Par-5, 498 yards

The most difficult hole on the course to judge.  On the one hand, it’s a short par-5 that presents the possibility for good scores.  On the other hand, there are awkwardly sloped areas of rough between patches of fairway and hazard that can make the hole unpleasant to play.  Still, everyone enjoys a short par-5; just keep it in play.  Par

17.  Par-3, 200 yards

The 17th is a difficult, uphill par-3 that is anything but scenic.  On the right is an area of ugly, dry trees and shrubs; and on the left is out-of-bounds and netting that guards an office building.  Not pretty, but it’s challenging and the green is in good shape.  Par

18.  Par-4, 437 yards

Probably the flattest hole on the course, tee-to-green.  Two long, precise shots are necessary for this slight dogleg hole.  The view from the tee is good; the view to the green is great.  The green is guarded by a man-made lake on the left and bunkers on the right.  In all respects, it’s a great way to complete the course.  Birdie

For the round, the design of Redgate scores a 3-under-par, which is remarkable.  Though the course hits a slight snag on the quality-meter between holes seven and 10, the course is excellent overall.

Many of the holes have elevation changes and well-kept, lush fairways and greens, which any golfer should love.  If you haven’t been out there, it’s time to grab your sticks and experience Redgate.