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The U.S. Open That Almost Didn’t Occur


BROOKLINE, Mass. — The Country Club, the positioning of this 12 months’s U.S. Open, had come near not staging the most important tournament in any respect, until the club realized there was something to the adage of being the smallest house within the nicest neighborhood.

The Country Club is on the short list of america Golf Association’s most cherished institutions, considered one of the five clubs that banded together within the Nineties to form the association. It was the positioning of arguably a very powerful moment in American golf history — the 1913 U.S. Open won by the amateur Francis Ouimet in a playoff over the celebrated British professionals Ted Ray and Harry Vardon.

However the club is tucked away in an exclusive neighborhood in a Boston suburb with little room to accommodate the growing demands of recent major tournaments. The P.G.A. of America awarded the club its 2005 championship, however it decided it could be an excessive amount of and pulled out.

Explaining the choice in 2002, John Cornish, the chairman of the 1999 Ryder Cup matches on the club, said, “We were faced with the necessity to downsize the scope of services, local corporations and the media. The club presented this to the P.G.A. and concurred with the P.G.A. that the changes wouldn’t be in the most effective interests of the P.G.A. Championship.”

The usG.A was not convinced that the Country Club could host a contemporary U.S. Open. John Bodenhamer, the association’s chief championships officer, said on Wednesday that “this Open almost didn’t occur.” The 1988 Open was held in Brookline, for the third time over a 75-year period, but Bodenhamer was skeptical there could be a fourth on the course.

“The footprint was small,” Bodenhamer said. “It was in a residential community. There have been just too many hurdles to beat in what we do and what you see on the market now.”

Bodenhamer said the united statesG.A.’s position modified in 2013. That 12 months, the U.S. Open was held at Merion Golf Club, outside Philadelphia. It, too, has a small footprint and is in a residential suburban neighborhood. However the tournament proved to be a hit and shortly Bodenhamer was in contact with officials on the Country Club to see if there was any interest in hosting a U.S. Open. There was.

In July 2015, the united statesG.A made it official: The Country Club would hold its fourth U.S. Open, in 2022, and placed on a U.S.G.A. event for a seventeenth time. Only Merion, with 19, has been the positioning of more, and the Open is scheduled to return there in 2030.

“This can be a throwback U.S. Open,” Bodenhamer said. “I feel while you go around this place and you only see, they didn’t move much dirt with donkeys. They’d a bit of little bit of dynamite, but that was it.”

There are rock outcroppings, blind shots, small greens and the punitive U.S. Open rough. There’s a brief, downhill par-3 that hasn’t been utilized in a U.S. Open since 1913. There’s the famed dogleg left seventeenth hole, scene of Vardon’s bogey within the playoff in 1913 and Justin Leonard’s long birdie putt within the 1999 Ryder Cup as a part of the U.S. team’s comeback.

“I promise you something magical will occur on No. 17,” Bodenhamer said. “It just has to.”

The Australian player Cameron Smith called the Country Club “my favorite U.S. Open venue I feel I’ve been to. I adore it, mate.” He’s competing in his seventh Open, which has included stops at Pebble Beach in California, Oakmont near Pittsburgh and Shinnecock Hills and Winged Foot in Recent York.

That’s the message Bodenhamer said he has been receiving all week.

“The players love this place,” Bodenhamer said. “The ghosts of the past matter. You’ll be able to’t buy history. You’ll be able to only earn it. And the Country Club has it.”

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