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
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.