National Links Trust hopes to make three DC courses a model for future renovations

Gil Hanse, Tom Doak, and Beau Welling all signed on

By Hil Anderson

The planning and permitting process is underway in Washington, D.C. where Troon has joined the National Links Trust (NLT) in working with the U.S. National Parks Service to breathe new life into a trio of municipal golf courses located in the heart of the nation’s capital.

The renovations are aimed at refreshing the three courses and making them model upgrades for other community courses, as well as local attractions and revenue generators. 

“Our hope is that the work we accomplish here in D.C. can become a model for other municipal courses to follow and we will certainly do all we can to support other projects with goals in line with ours,” said NLT Founder Michael McCartin.

Troon, the world’s largest golf management company, signed on in October to handle operations at the East Potomac Park, Rock Creek Park, and Langston Golf Courses. Troon will also be involved in formulating the plans for what should be an exciting update of the holes led by the NLT’s pro bono course architects Gil Hanse, Tom Doak, and Beau Welling.

“The good news is the National Park Service and National Links Trust are aligned on the need for investment in the properties and the importance of the renovation work being guided by the significant histories of each golf course,” McCartin said.

The details of the course redesigns haven’t been revealed, but they should be intriguing due to the scenic holes along the Potomac and long, rich histories in a city that is built on history. For example, East Potomac is where Washington’s landmark cherry trees were first planted while Langston started out as the city’s first segregated course for blacks in the 1930s.

But Washington doesn’t have a monopoly on history, which makes the project worth watching for communities that have courses with good bones, a unique location or a prominent place in their town’s heritage.

In addition, the NLT is using the three Washington facilities to host community activities that will attract more people to the game of golf and turn them into future customers. The First Tee program for children begins this year, and Langston will serve as the home course for the reconstituted golf team at Howard University, an Historically Black College and University located in the city. Langston is named after John Mercer Langston, the first dean of Howard’s law school.

“Emphasizing history can help strengthen the sense of pride about a golf course,” McCartin said. “Particularly with respect to municipal courses, that history tends to reinforce the idea that they are welcoming and inclusive places, which is particularly attractive to people new to the game. 

“And if a course happens to have an interesting architectural pedigree, telling the story of the course's origin and evolution can also help re-frame how golfers think the course, he added.”

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