Democratic lawmakers hope to put an end to their losing streak and retake the coveted Roll Call Cup from their Republican counterparts at this year’s 14th annual First Tee Congressional Challenge.
Lawmakers will hit the Columbia Country Club links in Chevy Chase, Md., on Monday for 36 holes of golf, culminating in a reception and trophy ceremony that evening at Cornerstone Government Affairs. Veteran team captains Reps. Ander Crenshaw , R-Fla., and John Yarmuth , D-Ky., are in their fourth and fifth years leading their sides, respectively. “We both have become very good friends because of it, I think that's one of the great values of the tournament,” Yarmuth said.
Yarmuth brushed up on his game earlier this month playing with the nation’s golfer-in-chief , President Barack Obama. The Kentuckian told HOH Obama had a message for the team: "He said, 'Tell the guys I want you to beat the Republicans.'"
"We’ve got some new players I think will help bolster our team, I think everybody on the team that I've talked to seems to be playing well," Yarmuth said.
Crenshaw sounded a similarly optimistic note on the GOP side.
“I hear there’s a new and improved ‘Coveted Roll Call Cup’ waiting for the winner this year. Republicans are ready to bring it home," Crenshaw said in a statement provided to CQ Roll Call.
The Democrats had won six tournaments in a row before the GOP’s recent streak, which continued last year with a 14-6 Republican win . Per the competition’s rules, the cup must be won back outright, so a tie similar to 2013 would extend the GOP’s streak to four in a row.
Yarmuth said each side would field 12 players this year, as opposed to 10 each in the past. New players on the Democratic side include Reps. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif.; Dan Kildee, D-Mich.; and Matt Cartwright, D-Pa. Republican players include Rep. Trey Gowdy , R-S.C.; and rookie Rep. Rick Allen, R-Ga.
Dan Tate Sr., a lobbyist and volunteer tournament organizer who has worked with the game since its inception, said the expanded rosters were to accommodate increased interest from members.
"It's one of the few occasions on which there's no real partisanship," Tate said. "Of course they try to beat one another's brains out on the golf course, but they get along exceedingly well in the social situations."
Lawmakers play for not just the newly procured Roll Call Cup and bragging rights, but to raise funds for youth golf organization The First Tee , an international organization that seeks to build character and instill values in children and young adults through golf.
Tate said over the past 13 years, the game has raised more than $2 million for The First Tee.
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