On the eve of the US Open, hosted at Congressional Country Club just 10 miles away from our nations Capitol, I thought it would be appropriate to start this blog with a review of Langston Golf Course.
Let me first say that my boss, when I told him that I was playing Langston on Sunday, shouted, “Great dog!” We then discussed how a great hot dog can really bring a round together, turning a unimpressive front side into a terrific back side. We recollected courses with exceptional hot dogs, courses with mediocre hot dogs, and then courses that don’t pay any attention to the quality of their hot dogs and will, after the proliferation of this blog, pay a terrible price.
Back to Langston. The golf course is located in Northeast DC, a quickly transitioning neighborhood in the shadows of the Robert F. Kennedy stadium and the Orange Line. The course was established in 1939 and named for John Mercer Langston, the first African American elected to Congress from Virginia. The front nine was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 and is, by far, the finest publicly owned golf course in the District of Columbia.
At 6600 yards from the tips this course can lull you to sleep but then jump up and bite you. The first hole, a 472-yard par 5, is a perfect “hand-shake” to start your round. The course quickly offers its challenges. Hole 4 is a treacherous par 3 that requires excellent distance control. Too far requires a precise chipping game, and too short may leave you in a valley 30 feet below the green. The next contest is the wide-open, grip it and rip it, number 6. From the tee, this hole is pretty straightforward but the approach to this massive green requires careful club selection. You could end up with a ridiculous three putt.
Coming in, the designers have put together a masterpiece. The opening hole on the back is pure bliss. At 538 yards, the par 5 10th is not overly long. Given the mounds on the right and the prevailing slope toward Kingman Lake on the left, a decent drive can leave you in significant trouble. The blind second shot (proceed when you hear the bell next to the green) is no guarantee. Those who lay up are faced with a dauntingly sloped right-to-left green. Luckily, on this day the pin was on the far right.
I cannot speak highly enough about the back nine on this historic course. However, I’m going to leave the rest of the nine for you to experience. Suffice it to say that the par 3 13th, which requires a wedge or 6-iron; the nearly drivable 14th; and the uphill 16th are all some of the terrific holes you’ll face when you play Langston.
Now, let’s talk about the Dog. I would be committing criminal culinary negligence if I didn’t mention, before I get to the dog, the rest of the options at the famed Langston Grille. There are few better places in DC to get breakfast and likely no better spot for catfish. When I was living in that part of town, I’d frequent the Grille just for breakfast and the occasional Redskins game.
The dog here is, as my boss exclaimed, “Great.” The bun is toasted on the same grill that, I’m guessing since the day the Grille opened has made many fantastic burgers, eggs, scrapple, bacon, and so many other fantastic fares found at Langston. The dog is grilled on the same. Clearly not your run of the mill Oscar Meyer frank, this dog had that pleasing crunch in each bite and, as you would hope in the middle of the best round in DC, was ever juicy through and through. Though lacking in toppings, Langston hits the nail on the head with their dog.
It’s no wonder the people of DC are planning improvements to this national treasure by renovating the clubhouse, course, and adding a soul food café. If you’re in the area, and you haven’t yet, get out to Langston and walk in the footsteps of history.