National Park Service signs 50-year lease with National Links Trust for historic golf courses – National Mall and Memorial Parks (U.S. National Park Service)


Langston Golf Course, first opened in 1939, is one of three 18-hole golf courses on National Park Service land in Washington, D.C.

NPS Photo

News Release Date: October 2, 2020

October 2, 2020

Contact: Katie Liming, 703-399-4547

The National Park Service (NPS) has signed a 50-year lease with National Links Trust (NLT) to operate three historic golf courses in Washington, D.C.  NLT will begin management of East Potomac, Langston and Rock Creek golf courses beginning Monday, Oct. 5.

“National Links Trust will provide long-term care to these historic courses and affordable opportunities to golf in our nation’s capital,” acting NPS National Capital Area Director Lisa Mendelson-Ielmini said. “National parks are about making memories with family and friends, and this 50-year agreement means that children who learn to golf today can look forward to playing with their children and grandchildren right here on their home courses.”  

“We are very excited to take on the stewardship of these remarkable properties, and are fully confident that our plans, which will be implemented over the next several years, will substantially benefit both golfers and the surrounding communities,” Michael McCartin, co-founder of NLT, said. “We are grateful to the National Park Service for this opportunity and pleased that they have placed their trust in our team.”

For the three golf courses, NLT will:  

  • Provide affordable opportunities to golf at East Potomac, Langston and Rock Creek golf courses.

  • Expand opportunities for underserved communities, including seniors, veterans, individuals with disabilities and those new to golf.  

  • Promote youth education and support youth golf programs in collaboration with local and national youth golf organizations.

  • Share the history of the three golf courses.

  • Restore historically and architecturally significant elements of the properties.

  • Enhance and provide additional access to the natural environment to benefit both golfers and the general community.  

  • Provide new full-time, seasonal and youth-specific employment opportunities.

  • Address deferred maintenance needs across all three courses.

NLT plans to restore East Potomac Golf Course to Walter Travis’s design, to include reversibility of play. NLT will redesign and rebuild both the White and Red courses, redesign the driving range, construct an 18-hole putting course and restore the clubhouse.  

At Langston Golf Course, NLT plans to renovate the existing 18-hole golf course, construct an 18-hole putting course, renovate the practice areas and driving range, build a new miniature golf course and renovate and expand the clubhouse.  

At Rock Creek Golf Course, NLT plans to construct a new practice area, redevelop the clubhouse, create new spaces for educational programs, redesign the course to reflect the original intent of designer William Flynn and construct an 18-hole putting course.

The NPS pursued a long-term, competitive lease for the golf courses to ensure the best possible recreational experience for golfers while also allowing for capital improvements. In July 2019, the NPS issued a Request for Proposals for the lease of East Potomac, Langston and Rock Creek golf courses. Proposals were reviewed and rated by a panel, which made a recommendation to select NLT’s proposal to the acting NPS area director. The NPS and NLT began negotiations for the lease agreement in June 2020.  

The three NPS golf courses in D.C. have a fascinating and complex history. Initially built between 1918 and 1939, the courses have hosted numerous tournaments, presidents of the United States, and renowned American golfers, as well as countless local citizens. The golf courses also played a role in the civil rights movement. Activists successfully protested for equal access to the courses and helped inspire the integration of recreational facilities across the city in 1941.