by Colvin Hedgepeth, AJGA Communications
As juniors enter the main gates of Bethesda Country Club, many may admire the statuesque trees lining the entrance but few will note the significance of these trunks. Residing only twenty minutes from the national’s Capital, Bethesda Country Club holds an intricate history revolving around their famed elm tree.
The club was actually known as the National Women’s Country Club in the early 1900s. First ladies of U.S. Presidents Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Woodrow Wilson, to name a few, walked the same greens our juniors are playing this week. In 1931, Gertrude Heim Remey made a remarkable donation to the golf establishment; she planted 55 elm trees along the entrance, each dedicated to an exceptional woman in 55 countries across the world. Notable women making the list include famous dames such as Clara Barton of the United States, Florence Nightingale of Great Britain and Queen Isabella of Spain.
Diplomatic connections for the club continue as a formal ceremony was held on April 20, 1932, to inaugurate the International Memorial Lane; 55 ambassadors and ministers gathered along the row of elm trees to celebrate international relationships and decorate each tree with a country’s flag. The line of trees is even rooted in congressional literature, as this commemoration is documented in a book that is now filed in the Rare Books Division of the Library of Congress.
No. 17 proved to be quite tricky during the first two rounds, as players overshot the green in fear of the looming lake and begrudgingly found the sloping rough on their chip-in attempts. Not all was lost for one player; Adrienne Schmidt of McLean, Va., struck gold with her first hole-in-one on the 143 yard par-3. Schmidt expressed frustration as she headed to the last two holes before the turn, as she started on No. 10. She told herself in jest to ace No. 17, feeling confident with her 7-iron; her swing paid off, with her dad rewarding her with a giant congratulatory hug.
Jessica Merrill of Reston, Va., also shot a hole-in-one in the final round on No. 13.
Maryland is well represented at the Under Armour® / Steve Marino Championship, with 28 players hailing from the state. Six players reside right in Bethesda, Md., making the Bethesda Country Club course familiar and convenient.
Keegan Boone, a 17-year-old from Bethesda, Md., led through the first two rounds of play, shooting even-70 to start the tournament and 2-over-par 72 in the second round. The local junior was chosen to deliver a speech at the reception for the Junior-Amateur Fundraising Tournament; he elaborated on his journey through junior golf, culminating with his decision to play golf for Loyola-Maryland.
Mason Carmel is also a Bethesda, Md., native who has built a nice resume with the AJGA. Carmel has competed in seven AJGA events, with his best finish coming from the 2011 AJGA Stonehenge Junior Open where he tied for fifth and shot 9-under-par 62. Carmel has signed a letter of intent with Longwood University and will head to Farmville, Va., in the fall.
Four original elm trees, the only originals left, greet patrons of the Bethesda Country Club.