One of the most essential venues in American golf started as a spot to look at newbie horse racing. Founded in 1882, the Country Club in Brookline, Mass, the website of this week’s United States Open, is one in every of the oldest golf equipment in America and one in every of 5 founding golf equipment of the United States Golf Association. Yet none of which may have occurred if not for the niece of 1 its members.
Florence Boit was visiting Pau, France, in 1894 when “she came across an old course built by Scottish soldiers in the 1850s,” stated Fred Waterman, the membership historian. When she returned to the United States, she launched the sport to her uncle Laurence Curtis, a member of the membership who would grow to be the second president of the U.S.G.A.
Soon after Curtis launched the sport, a number of members, regardless of by no means having seen a correct golf course, laid out six rudimentary holes on the membership’s grounds. While none of these holes stay right now, the rugged and rocky terrain the course sits on set its character.
Built on rock outcroppings and winding by way of ridges fashioned by glaciers, the Country Club is a creation wholly of its time, with a format and floor that’s difficult to golfers of all talent ranges, together with the finest in the world.
Since 2007, Gil Hanse has been the consulting architect at the membership, and he stated that, in contrast to comparable programs of that period that had been “fit into the landscape, the holes of the Country Club seem to have been draped on top of the land that was there.”
Part of the course’s appeal are its small greens, in contrast to most in main championship golf. Hanse has labored with the membership to develop its placing surfaces the place he was in a position, however gamers this week can be aiming at smaller targets than ordinary.
The Country Club has an extended historical past of internet hosting U.S.G.A. championships, starting with the 1902 United States Women’s Amateur. Including this 12 months’s Open, it has hosted 16 U.S.G.A. championships, one in each decade besides for the 2000s.
A well-known championship performed at the membership was the 1913 U.S. Open, when Francis Ouimet, a 20-year-old newbie who grew up throughout the road, beat Ted Ray and Harry Vardon in a playoff victory. Ouimet’s win catapulted golf’s recognition in the United States. Waterman stated that, in the 10 years after Ouimet’s victory, the United States went from having 340,000 golfers to 2.1 million.
It wasn’t Ouimet’s newbie standing alone that made him golf’s people hero at the time. He caddied at the membership and took up the sport utilizing balls he discovered round the course and his brother’s golf equipment. He would typically hit balls in a pasture at his personal makeshift course. Ouimet’s unlikely victory and humble origins had been chronicled by the author Mark Frost in his guide “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”
In the 1913 playoff, the three golfers got here to the 17th gap with its inexperienced sitting solely 275 yards away from Ouimet’s childhood house and Vardon down one. Ray was already out of competition. Vardon tried to chop the nook of the dogleg left gap, however got here up quick, his ball touchdown in a bunker that now bears his identify.
This allowed Ouimet to take a extra conservative route proper of the bunker. Unable to achieve the inexperienced, Vardon splashed out after which shot a bogey, whereas Ouimet went on to birdie the gap and take a three-stroke lead. He breezed house from there.
Ouimet, who died in 1967, had a distinguished newbie profession, successful the 1914 United States Amateur. In 1951, he grew to become the first non-Briton elected captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. He by no means turned professional.
Fifty years later, when the U.S.G.A. returned to the membership to honor Ouimet’s win, the 17th gap once more proved pivotal. Arnold Palmer missed an 18-inch putt that put him two strokes behind the chief, Jacky Cupit.
“Cupit didn’t know he had a two-stroke lead on Palmer, and he told me if he had, he would have hit an iron off the tee and played to the middle of the fairway,” Waterman stated.
Instead, pondering he wanted to achieve for extra, Cupit hit a three-wood, touchdown in the lengthy grass subsequent to the Vardon bunker, however not in it. He made double bogey on the gap to tie with Palmer and Julius Boros. Cupit nonetheless had an opportunity when he arrived at the 18th inexperienced and the 72nd gap of the championship, however he missed a 15-footer “by one inch,” Waterman stated. He and Palmer misplaced to Boros in the playoff.
The three U.S. Opens performed at the membership have gone to a playoff, and the 17th has at all times offered the drama. “It’s a match-play hole in a stroke-play event,” Waterman stated, inflicting the golfer to think about his opponent particularly down the stretch somewhat than simply permitting the golfer to play his personal sport.
In the 1988 Open, Curtis Strange three-putted the inexperienced, forcing himself to fall again right into a tie, however he received the playoff the subsequent day for the first of his two consecutive U.S. Open wins. The 17th additionally offered the 1999 Ryder Cup with a frenzied celebration after Justin Leonard made a putt from over 40 ft to win the gap in opposition to José Maria Olazábal, inflicting the American workforce and its followers to flood the inexperienced.
The Country Club has offered a number of drama. Frost, the creator, stated he believed that one thing else was at work at the membership.
“The course is an enduring American classic perfectly designed for dramatic finishes,” he stated, “but my more mystical side thinks Francis might have something to do with it.”