The Course Director’s Guide to the Renovated Congressional Blue Course
Congressional Country Club's Blue Course hosts its first major championship following Andrew Green's 2019 renovation, which finished in 2021. The 2022 KPMG Women's PGA Championship faces the first test of 8 upcoming PGA of America Championships that Congressional offers on the major stage as part of the course's partnership with the PGA. Director of Golf Courses & Grounds at Congressional Country Club Pete Wendt, who's worked at Congressional for five years, is excited to see how this year's championship differs from the challenge the Blue Course will offer from its rich major history.
“Pros have said in the past,” Course superintendent Pete Wendt said, “Hey, there was only one way to play the golf course on the old Blue Golf Course before Andrew Green renovated. It was your typical U.S. Open type of golf course. Very narrow, 25-yard wide fairways, thick rough, elevated greens. So there was only one way to play the golf course, which was kind of right down the middle air.
“Now, it's really about, hey, where do I need to be depending on the hole location for the day? We've got 50 acres of fairway today as opposed to 24 three years ago. We've got a lot of movement in the green, so you really have to pick the right spot in the fairway to attack those hole locations.”
Wendt highlighted two key challenges the renovated course will present players this week. Players will need to pick the right spot off the tee and manage difficult green complexes. The Blue Course wastes no time challenging the field's driving accuracy, with the opening tee shot on the dogleg left par-4 first hole demanding pinpoint precision.
“The green kind of plays from left to right away from you,” Wendt explained, “And you really want to favor that left-hand side of the hole to get a good peek in there.”
Wendt exemplified the challenge of the new greens with the eighth hole. The short par 4 could be drivable if the tees move up over the week. But, if players err off the tee, there are plenty of defenses around the green to change a potential two-putt birdie into a fight to scramble for par.
“It's elevated,” Wendt said of the eighth’s green, “It's very pushed up, protected heavily by bunkers in the front, runoff in the back, and bunkers in the back. It really falls off on the right side. The green itself has a lot of movement in it too. I think that one will be a good challenge for them.”
The new design’s allowed for incredible sight lines across the property. From Wendt’s office near the second green, he can see clear across the property to the buildings next to the 16th green, setting up for another memorable chapter in Congressional's decorated history.
“We put a lot of fine fescue in there to kind of highlight the edges of the holes,” Wendt explained, “and with it blowing in the wind on a day like today, I just feel like it's an amazing view."