GolfLink's Guide to Washington, DC

By Ryan Watson

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Washington, DC has long been a popular place with golfers, and not just politicians. The city no longer hosts a PGA Tour event, but did host events from 1980-2019, most recently with the National. Multiple courses have hosted these events, including the Congressional Country Club, Aronimink Golf Club, Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, and the TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, showing just how good golf can be in the capitol.

Things to See in Washington, DC

Washington, DC is a city that breathes history, and any visit to the city must include taking in some of the government buildings, memorials and monuments that litter the city. A trip to the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue is a must. Then a trip to the National Mall to see the U.S. Capitol building before spending the rest of the day visiting the numerous museums and memorials in walking distance. While at the National Mall, visitors can look at the Capitol Reflecting Pool and view the steps where Martin Luther King, Jr. made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. A short walk will take you to the Washington Monument, or a slight detour west of the National Mall proper will take you to the Lincoln Memorial. In addition, there are numerous Smithsonian Museums in and around the national mall including the National Museum of American History, National Museum of Natural History and National Air and Space Museum.

There are so many things to see that tourists could spend their entire trip at the National Mall and not see everything. Other attractions in the DC area include the National Zoological Park, and wonderful zoo serving the region or a somber trip to pay respects to presidents and veterans at the Arlington National Cemetery. The World War I, World War II, and Vietnam War Memorials are also beautiful monuments to America’s armed forces.

When hunger sets in, there are numerous fine dining options throughout the city. However, take the more modest approach by eating at local favorite Ben’s Chili Bowl for a chili dog and fries served in generous portions, or opt for the eponymous bowl of chili. For the exotic, Dukem Ethiopian Restaraunt has been bringing delicious East African food to DC residents for years. Or visit Tacos, Tortas and Tequila to get the evening started with Mexican fare. For drinks, venture to the Columbia Room to experience what has been described as America’s best cocktail bar, or try local beers at DC Brau, Atlas Brew Works or Port City Brewing. You can also escape the heat and return to your childhood by trying the Adult Juiceboxes at Calico, Blagden Alley’s backyard bar. The next morning, catch breakfast at Unconventional Diner for a huge selection and generous portions before heading out to the golf course.

DC Golf

Washington, DC is an area swimming in exclusive private clubs like the Congressional Country Club. Luckily for those not holding membership cards, DC also has several wonderful public courses. The following are 5 of DC's best public courses.

Langston Golf Course

2600 Benning Rd NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 397-8638

Of the three municipal golf courses within Washington, DC itself, Langston Golf Course is a historic treasure. The course was founded in the then segregated city in 1939 to serve the community’s black golfers, and at the time was one of only 20 courses nationwide that were open to African Americans. It was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration, both New Deal programs designed to provide work during the Great Depression. The course has a great practice facility, with a difficult but playable course, with notable forced carries over the Anacostia River on the back 9 can add strokes to your play. Playing your round in the heart of the city is another plus to this great course.

East Potomac Golf Course

972 Ohio Dr SW
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 554-7660

The second of DC’s munis to make the list, the facility boasts 2 separate 9-hole courses, but its 18-hole Blue Course is its best known offering. The course was designed and built in the early 1900s, and is an open parkland style course. This course has beautiful views of the DC skyline, notably the Washington Monument. The course is heavily played and lacks the same challenge as other courses on this list, but it is a very good value for the area. The cherry blossom lined 14th hole is the standout of the course, and a trip to the clubhouse grill for food and drinks afterwards will be a great ending to a round at East Potomac.

Stonewall Golf Club

15601 Turtle Point Dr.
Gainesville, VA 20155
(703) 753-5101

Moving out into the Beltway, Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, VA is a Tom Jackson designed course routed over the naturally rolling terrain. The front 9 is fairly open with Lake Manassas coming into play often, while the back 9 is a more parkland/woodland design which still feature some water. The standout hole is the 555 yard par-5 13th hole known as Traveller. Strong hitters have a chance to hit the green in 2 shots if they can match power and accuracy. This course is well managed and maintained and provides a challenging test, and stands as one of the DC area’s best public golf courses.

Potomac Shores

1750 Dunnington Place
Dumfries, VA 22026
(571) 383-3050

This Jack Nicklaus designed course that remains a gem of the DC golf scene. The course has elevation changes as it snakes through groves of trees overlooking the Potomac River. Like most Nicklaus layouts, the course requires a lot of strategic thinking. The course is best known for dramatic holes due to the elevation changes, with over 200 feet of elevation changes. Greens are often undulating and holes are well bunkered, so the fairly forgiving fairways are welcome. But make no mistake, this is a stunning yet challenging course that will demand the best out of your game.

Whiskey Creek Golf Club

4804 Whiskey Ct.
Ijamsville, MD 21754
(301) 694-2900

Located within an hour of downtown DC, Whiskey Creek Golf Club has been earning accolades since it first opened in 2000. The course flows through the natural surroundings with waters, trees and boulders all coming into play. The course was designed with consultation from professional Earnie Els and is often celebrated for not having any “filler” holes. Each hole feels purposeful and requires strategy. The signature hole is the 18th, is truly unique. It features ruins of a 19th century house in the middle of the fairway, inviting golfers to play it safe with a shot to the right or go for the riskier narrow left side which sets up an easier approach shot. This course is a must-play for visitors to Washington, DC.

About the Author

Ryan Watson is a freelance sportswriter and history professor. He has been an avid fan of golf since his father signed him up for golf camp as a young child. Ryan enjoys following the professional game and learning about new equipment and gadgets.