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Republicans Hold Off Democrats to Retain Roll Call Cup

A missed 12-footer on the final hole by three-time Democratic captain Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky created only the second tie in the 12-year history of the First Tee Congressional Challenge.

Per rules, the Roll Call Cup must be “taken” from the other party, and the 10-10 tie created when Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., took the final match point from Yarmuth on the 18th hole gave the Republicans their second-straight cup, after Democrats won the previous six.

Reps. Ander Crenshaw, left, and Mike Doyle walk off the 10th green Monday at Columbia Country Club. (JM Rieger/CQ Roll Call)
Reps. Ander Crenshaw, left, and Mike Doyle walk off the 10th green Monday at Columbia Country Club. (JM Rieger/CQ Roll Call)

“I got in a position where I had to pitch back to the fairway and had about a 12-footer to halve the match, which would’ve ended up being the half-point that would have won the match for us, but Trey played great,” Yarmuth said. “This is one of the nicest experiences. There is so much partisan rancor; it’s a way to get to know members and to generate respect.”

Members, far apart in the halls of Congress, found ways to unite Monday at the Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Md.

The two-time Republican captain, Rep. Ander Crenshaw of Florida, said he thought the match would be close this year.

“The Democrats have some rookies who played really well; I think their recruiting year was pretty strong,” Crenshaw said. “It’s friendly competition. One of the problems sometimes is the lack of civility sometimes, and if people spend an afternoon in friendly competition, they get to know each other as individuals. Not only do we raise a lot of money for kids … but we have the competition side where you get to know each other.”

The event features 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans from the House, selected by Yarmuth and Crenshaw, which included Assistant Minority Leader James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., five new First Tee Congressional Challenge golfers and three freshman members. The challenge consists of a four-ball event, an alternate shot event and individual match play, each nine holes.

The challenge raises money for The First Tee, a youth golf charity, and has been played at Columbia Country Club 11 times in the event’s 12-year history.

The rye grass course, which hosted the 1921 U.S. Open, features a challenging topography that forces players not only to keep the ball in the fairway but to play smart shots.