Congressional will not disappoint in its post-U.S. Open debut
By mustang6560 on 6/26/12
Following the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, the USGA was criticized for the relatively easy course conditions, which allowed Rory McIlroy to set 12 U.S. Open records en route to his first major title.

Well, that was last year, and a lot has changed since Rory's triumph. And Congressional is ready to show its teeth as it hosts the AT&T National for the first time since 2009.
There are some easy-to-point-to reasons, but none is more important than the greens. In July 2009 — just after the last AT&T National here, before the event took a two-year hiatus to suburban Philadelphia — Congressional undertook a complete rebuild of the greens on the Blue Course, replacing poa annua grass with bentgrass, which was likely to be more resilient so it could better endure Washington’s hot summers. The Open, then, took place just 20 months after those greens went in, and they weren’t yet fully mature and thus more susceptible to extreme heat or rain.

That also means the greens are now firmer, conditions that officials from the U.S. Golf Association, which stages the Open, desperately wanted but were unable to get, particularly when extremely warm temperatures preceded the event, putting undue stress on the grass. Several overnight thunderstorms the week of the Open further softened the greens. The course had no defense. And a few greens, in the ensuing months, were damaged.

Since then, Congressional has benefited not only from time but also from ideal weather in the winter and spring. The club also took some steps, including reducing the amount of water put on the course in the spring and limiting play a bit more, that helped it get firmer.
It's too bad Rory is overseas playing in the Irish Open and we won't be able to see how he would have performed on the same course a year later (under tougher conditions). But, it's probably a good thing, for his own sake, that he's not playing because based on his current form, he might have missed the cut.

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Image via USGA

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