Yesterday, I played Northwest Golf Course in Silver Spring, Maryland. We usually get out here four or five times per year and on this beautiful Masters Sunday, we enjoyed crystal clear skies and comfortable 70 degree temperatures. With perfect scoring conditions, I shot a ho-hum 81 from the blue tees, which play one set up and measure 6,827 yards. While I left the golf course a bit frustrated with my swing, I was tremendously excited because I learned that Northwest would be hosting 2017 U.S. Open qualifying on May 8th!
When this Ault & Clark design was built in 1964, it was actually constructed with the anticipation of hosting a U.S. Open. But with Congressional Country Club located in the same market, the dream never materialized and Northwest became one of the strongest municipal tests, and a favorite for players who like to let the shaft out.
A couple years ago, I wrote a piece theorizing on how tour pros might fare at your local muni. It’s no longer speculation. I get to find out myself because I’m going to join them! I know what you’re thinking, “Brian, you hack; you need a 1.4 USGA index to enter qualifying for the U.S. Open.” Of course my handicap is not that low and I won’t be in the field, but I’ll be playing the day before on the same track and trying to test the heck out of myself; or the day after. We’ll be teeing it up from the tips and at 7,376 yards, probably hitting driver 3WD into a lot of the par-4s and hoping to keep the ball on these undulating razor-fast greens.
My group never plays the back tees out here; it’s just too long. In the decades I’ve been playing Northwest, I’ve only attempted the back tees a couple times. Once, as a much younger player maybe 25 years ago, I played one of the best rounds of my life in the rain and shot a 5-over 77 from the tips. Now, I’m happy with 77 from the regular tees. What are my chances of breaking 90? This is going to be humbling.
Have you ever had the opportunity to play a tour caliber competition course very close to the real event? If so, how did it go?