American golf's premier tournament, the U.S. Open, started Thursday at the illustrious Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., a suburb of Washington D.C. Congressional's Blue course is a history-laden championship venue, but as in all things in or near the nation's capital, politicking played a role in the club's origins.
Two Republican congressmen from Indiana founded the country club in 1921. The avowed mission of the organization was two-fold, according to a 1924 article in the Washington Post. Superficially, it was to offer sporting amenities to government officials, including members of the U. S. Senate and House and their families.
More importantly, the club would offer the opportunity for congressmen to mingle on the golf course with businessmen and professionals. As the Post described, all concerned could "discuss freely the state of feeling in their respective communities regarding problems awaiting government action." In other words, playing a round of golf with congressmen would allow businessmen to cut through the bureaucratic red tape of the day and lobby about taxes, regulation and international trade laws.