A Congressional Country Club member was so upset with the club’s recent renovation strategy that he reported the host of past PGA Tour events and U.S. Open’s to a local environmental agency, which led to citations from the Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services.
The complaint centered around what an anonymous member estimated as the removal of some 1,000 trees between April and September of last year.
“I am (upset) because they’re ruining my club,” the anonymous member told The Washington Post. “I think they don’t want members to fuss. I think it also (was) quietly done so it didn’t draw attention from the county.”
Montgomery County officials say 20,000+ sq.ft. of tree canopy removed at Bethesda country club without a permit. https://t.co/D7hvAvDruc
— Jennifer Barrios (@barrioscq) October 13, 2018
Montgomery County requires that large properties, such as the 358-acre golf club, obtain a sediment-control permit if they clear more than 5,000 square feet of tree canopy. According to the county, Congressional removed more than four times that amount.
“Turf grass and trees, however, do not always co-exist well in nature since they compete for the same nutrients, sunlight and water needed to sustain their health and vigor,” Congressional Country Club’s Forest and Tree Management Plan, which was last updated in 2013, says. “Therefore, care must be taken through best management practices to provide for the health of both trees and turf.”
The Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services emailed violation notice to a club official on Sept. 26 that cited the removal of more than 20,000 square feet of tree canopy and required a stop order of tree removal until the proper permits were obtained.
— GOLF.com (@GOLF_com) October 14, 2018
“Congressional has selectively removed trees for the conditioning of our golf courses,” Jeffrey Kreafle, the general manager of Congressional Country Club, wrote in an email to The Post. “We have not received a stop work order from Montgomery County. Rather, they notified the Club that we need to obtain a sediment control permit for work being done on the golf course. The paperwork for this requested permit is in process.”
Helen Wood was the local environmental board member of Conservation Montgomery, the local non-profit, who was tipped off by the anonymous member.
“We all have a stake, really, in their trees,” Wood said. “By regulation, they have a plan that’s approved that allows them to have their beautiful golf course, their lovely grounds. But they have, if nothing else, a civic responsibility to fulfill their conservation role in the county. And that’s a legal responsibility.”
Most of the trees have removed around the club’s famed Blue Course, which is set to host eight PGA of America championships over the next two decades, including the KPMG Women’s LPGA Championship in 2022 and 2027, the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in 2025 and 2033, the PGA Championship in 2031 and the Ryder Cup in 2036.