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At This U.S. Open Venue, the seventeenth Hole Is Known for Drama


Probably the most vital venues in American golf began as a spot to observe amateur horse racing. Founded in 1882, the Country Club in Brookline, Mass, the positioning of this week’s United States Open, is one in all the oldest clubs in America and one in all five founding clubs of america Golf Association. Yet none of that may need happened if not for the niece of 1 its members.

Florence Boit was visiting Pau, France, in 1894 when “she got here across an old course built by Scottish soldiers within the 1850s,” said Fred Waterman, the club historian. When she returned to america, she introduced the sport to her uncle Laurence Curtis, a member of the club who would turn into the second president of the usG.A.

Soon after Curtis introduced the sport, several members, despite never having seen a correct golf course, laid out six rudimentary holes on the club’s grounds. While none of those holes remain today, the rugged and rocky terrain the course sits on set its character.

Built on rock outcroppings and winding through ridges formed by glaciers, the Country Club is a creation wholly of its time, with a layout and surface that’s difficult to golfers of all skill levels, including the perfect on the planet.

Since 2007, Gil Hanse has been the consulting architect on the club, and he said that, unlike similar courses of that era that were “fit into the landscape, the holes of the Country Club appear to have been draped on top of the land that was there.”

A part of the course’s charm are its small greens, unlike most in major championship golf. Hanse has worked with the club to expand its putting surfaces where he was able, but players this week can be aiming at smaller targets than usual.

The Country Club has a protracted history of 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 every decade aside from the 2000s.

A famous championship played on the club was the 1913 U.S. Open, when Francis Ouimet, a 20-year-old amateur who grew up across the road, beat Ted Ray and Harry Vardon in a playoff victory. Ouimet’s win catapulted golf’s popularity in america. Waterman said that, within the 10 years after Ouimet’s victory, america went from having 340,000 golfers to 2.1 million.

It wasn’t Ouimet’s amateur status alone that made him golf’s folk hero on the time. He caddied on the club and took up the sport using balls he found across the course and his brother’s clubs. He would often hit balls in a pasture at his own makeshift course. Ouimet’s unlikely victory and humble origins were chronicled by the author Mark Frost in his book “The Biggest Game Ever Played.”

Within the 1913 playoff, the three golfers got here to the seventeenth hole with its green sitting only 275 yards away from Ouimet’s childhood home and Vardon down one. Ray was already out of contention. Vardon tried to chop the corner of the dogleg left hole, but got here up short, his ball landing in a bunker that now bears his name.

This allowed Ouimet to take a more conservative route right of the bunker. Unable to achieve the green, Vardon splashed out after which shot a bogey, while Ouimet went on to birdie the outlet and take a three-stroke lead. He breezed home from there.

Ouimet, who died in 1967, had a distinguished amateur profession, winning the 1914 United States Amateur. In 1951, he became the primary non-Briton elected captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. He never turned pro.

Fifty years later, when the usG.A. returned to the club to honor Ouimet’s win, the seventeenth hole again proved pivotal. Arnold Palmer missed an 18-inch putt that put him two strokes behind the leader, 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 center of the green,” Waterman said.

As a substitute, pondering he needed to achieve for more, Cupit hit a three-wood, landing within the long grass next to the Vardon bunker, but not in it. He made double bogey on the outlet to tie with Palmer and Julius Boros. Cupit still had a likelihood when he arrived on the 18th green and the 72nd hole of the championship, but he missed a 15-footer “by one inch,” Waterman said. He and Palmer lost to Boros within the playoff.

The three U.S. Opens played on the club have gone to a playoff, and the seventeenth has at all times provided the drama. “It’s a match-play hole in a stroke-play event,” Waterman said, causing the golfer to contemplate his opponent especially down the stretch moderately than simply allowing the golfer to play his own game.

Within the 1988 Open, Curtis Strange three-putted the green, forcing himself to fall back right into a tie, but he won the playoff the subsequent day for the primary of his two consecutive U.S. Open wins. The seventeenth also provided the 1999 Ryder Cup with a frenzied celebration after Justin Leonard made a putt from over 40 feet to win the outlet against José Maria Olazábal, causing the American team and its fans to flood the green.

The Country Club has provided a number of drama. Frost, the creator, said he believed that something else was at work on the club.

“The course is an everlasting American classic perfectly designed for dramatic finishes,” he said, “but my more mystical side thinks Francis may need something to do with it.”

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