Klein on Design: No. 18 at Congressional
Monday, June 29, 2009
Architect: Devereux Emmet (1924), Donald Ross (1930), Robert Trent Jones Sr. (1959), Rees Jones (1989)
Where: Bethesda, Md.
Event: AT&T National, July 2-5
It’s great because . . . Congressional’s most recognizable hole has been a stage for both the famous – Ken Venturi limping home a winner at the 1964 U.S. Open – and the infamous – Tom Lehman dumping a 7-iron approach into the water to lose the 1997 Open. (It played as the 17th hole in ’97.) The genius of this downhill hole lies in the peninsula green, canted diagonally, with water lurking on both sides and to the rear. With the fairway tilted ever so slightly right to left, it’s easy to turn the ball over into the left rough, from which point getting to the green (and holding it) is very tough.
It would be even better if . . . a new back tee were added. The downhill tee shot runs so fast and firm that Tour-quality players are hitting wedges into this green, but the hole works best when players have a middle iron in. There’s room to move back another 40-plus yards, which not only would lengthen the hole but also make it less likely that strong players will catch the downhill kick point.