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Langston Legacy Golf Course (7774 hits)

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Originally built as a segregated golf facility to provide African-American golfers with a course they could call their own, Langston Golf Course – known today as Langston Legacy Golf Course – opened in 1939 as a nine-hole course. Today, Langston Legacy Golf Course is an 18-hole course that has gone through multiple transformations during its 65-year history.

The course’s first nine holes were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. The course is named for John Mercer Langston, the first African-American popularly elected to office (1855), founder and first dean of Howard University’s Law Department (now Howard University Law School), first president of Virginia State University, and the first Black congressman elected from Virginia (1888).

Over Langston’s long and rich history, African-American golfers have been consistently loyal to the course. From the beginning, Langston has been the home course of the Royal Golf Club and the Wake Robin Golf Club, the nation’s first clubs for Black men and women, respectively. Langston is also home of the international Pro-Am tournament, the Capital City Open, a renowned event that has attracted participation by such celebrities as Bob Hope, former President Gerald R. Ford, and Joe Louis, as well as prominent players, including Charlie Sifford, Lee Elder, Jim Thorpe, and many other African-American professional golfers. In fact, for a time during the 1970s, Lee Elder and his wife, Rose, managed the course.

Significant for its symbolic association with the development and desegregation of public golfing and recreational facilities in the greater Washington, DC area, and with the growth of golf as a popular recreational and professional sport for African-Americans, Langston Legacy Golf Course has served as a focal point for efforts to encourage the development of golfing facilities for African-American players during the first half of the 20th century, and, subsequently, to ensure equal access to, and equal quality of recreational facilities operated by the National Park Service.

The National Park Service owns Langston Golf Course. It is bordered on the north by the National Arboretum; District of Columbia public property, including schools, housing, and streets may be seen from the west side of the course. To the east lies the Anacostia River. The course surrounds part of Kingman Lake, and play traverses the water on the back nine holes.

The beginning holes of each nine are laid out in a northerly to northeasterly direction. The length of the course is 6,652 yards (3,226 yards on both the front and back nines). Typical course hazards are man-made sand traps and natural water hazards. A driving range is located at the far southeast corner of the area and is set off from the course itself by a berm. The course retains most of its historical layout, both the original nine holes and the nine holes that were added later. Some minor changes have been made to accommodate playing conditions.

Originally slated for 18 holes, the course opened in June 1939, with only nine holes and remained so until 1955, when the course was completed as planned. Because of limited funding, the course never has been brought to PGA tournament difficulty, but it is noted for some challenging dogleg holes. Plans are in the works for a refurbishment of the course, a transformation that will include upgrading the course itself to championship quality, construction of a new clubhouse with banquet facilities, and the development of a museum. The driving range is scheduled to be replaced, and the youth education center is slated for expansion.

The entire landscape of the course in its parkland setting is a significant amenity. From its farthest northern point, the golf course provides a magnificent and historic vista of undeveloped, open space along the Anacostia River basin.

Posted By: Jon C.
Monday, August 4th 2008 at 9:30AM
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