Updated 7:33 p.m. | Republicans won the 13th annual First Tee Congressional Challenge on Monday, taking home the coveted Roll Call Cup for the third straight year.
Ten Republicans and 10 Democrats faced off on the sunny links of Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Md. All of the players hailed from the House and included Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the new special committee on Benghazi, Assistant Minority Leader James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., and Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game star Cedric L. Richmond, D-La.
But for members of Congress, playing in this competition is about more than bragging rights. The funds raised from the competition are donated to The First Tee , a youth golf program.
“People want to play well. I think most everybody has a pretty competitive nature,” said three-time Republican captain Rep. Ander Crenshaw of Florida. “But big picture, we get to raise money for First Tee. I think everybody would say that’s the main reason we’re out here.”
Compared to last year’s nail-biting match that ended in a tie , the Republicans won outright this year, 14-6. Because the cup must be "taken," if a match ends in a tie, the team in current possession of the cup retains it — hence last year's tie resulting in the GOP holding onto the cup they had won in 2012.
The GOP players dominated the three nine-hole rounds of golf. The first two rounds of team competition gave Republicans plenty of confidence going into the final round of individual match-ups.
Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, who has served as the Democrats' captain for four years, said the game also gives lawmakers a chance to get to know one another as people, not just politicians.
“We’re often yelling at each other within the political theater that we occupy, but this way we can actually talk like reasonable human beings,” said Yarmuth. “And it’s very refreshing just to form personal relationships.” He joked at an awards ceremony later that he already has told DCCC they need to recruit some good players.
Crenshaw, Yarmuth, Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., left early so they could vote on HR 2203, a bill to recognize golfer Jack Nicklaus for his service "in promoting excellence, good sportsmanship, and philanthropy."
Niklaus is speaking on the Hill Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. (It's National Golf Day.)