U.S. Open Preview: Country Club In Brookline Offers Rich History In Major Event

The Country Club hosts its fourth U.S. Open to go along with six U.S. Amateurs, two U.S. Women's Amateurs and a Ryder Cup

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June 13

The best sports city in the world is gearing up for a classic.

And no, we’re not talking about the Boston Celtics competing for the organization’s long-awaited Banner 18 or the Boys of Summer Boston Red Sox continuing their in-season turnaround at historic Fenway Park.

The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., one of the oldest and most historic courses in the country, will welcome the best golfers in the sport for the 2022 U.S. Open this week. The 122nd U.S. Open, one of golf’s four major championships, will host its first of four rounds Thursday.

The history of the U.S. Open makes it one of the biggest events on the calendar for golf fans, but this year’s host site being The Country Club makes it arguably the event of the summer in Boston.

The Country Club, after all, has held some of the most noteworthy events in the sport’s history long before Tom Brady showed up to win six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots.

The most popular event ever hosted at The Country Club, and one of the true David vs. Goliath stories in sports history, was the 1913 U.S. Open. It was the first of what will now be four U.S. Open championships on the property. The Country Club also has hosted six U.S. Amateurs, two U.S. Women’s Amateurs and the unforgettable 1999 Ryder Cup.

Francis Ouimet, a 20-year-old amateur who was a caddy at The Country Club after growing up across the street, won the 1913 U.S. Open. Ouimet was portrayed in Mark Frost’s 2002 book, ?The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, and the Birth of Modern Golf” before becoming a Walt Disney Production’s film ?The Greatest Game Ever Played? in 2005. In earning his victory, Ouimet stunned England legends Harry Vardon and Ted Ray following a three-way, 18-hole playoff.

It capped golf’s greatest-ever upset. Vardon, the most popular player in the sport at the time, previously won the 1900 U.S. Open and was a four-time British Open winner while Ray was the reigning British Open champion. Ouimet shocked the world with his victory delivered pride to the United States as the trophy remained on home soil.

Ouimet’s victory broke the mindset that golf was only for the wealthy, too. It proved how those less fortunate could achieve success like those more financially fortunate, causing the popularity of the sport to grow exponentially.

The Country Club, which initially focused on horseback-riding and other outdoor activities, started as a six-hole layout before being made into 18 holes by 1910. It was one of the five charter clubs which founded the United States Golf Association, doing so along with Newport Country Club, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, St. Andrew?s Golf Club in Yonkers, N.Y., and Chicago Golf Club. It’s listed among the first 100 clubs in the country by the USGA.

The course Ouimet played more than a century ago essentially is the same course members play today, according to Golf Digest. It’s known as the “Main Course” and ranked 17th on the Golf Digest list of America’s 100 Greatest courses. An additional nine was added in the late 1920s to make a total of 27 holes.

While golf fans may point to the 1913 U.S. Open as the most noteworthy tournament held at The Country Club, the course has continued to stay in the forefront of the USGA’s mind. And it seems like every time golfers take to the links in Brookline for a major championship, it ends with some sort of memorable outcome.

The 1963 and 1988 U.S. Opens, held on the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the Ouimet’s victory, were hosted at The Country Club. Both tournaments came down to a playoff as Julius Boros bested Jacky Cupit and Arnold Palmer in an All-American final in 1963 before Curtis Strange defeated Englishman Nick Faldo in the 1988 U.S. Open.

Another wildly popular tournament held at The Country Club was the 1999 Ryder Cup. The Ryder Cup, a competition held every two years between teams from Europe and the United States, had one of its most dramatic finishes at The Country Club. It became known as the “Battle of Brookline” as the United States rallied from four points down entering Sunday to claim a 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 victory. At the time, the American win marked the largest final day comeback in Ryder Cup history and was viewed as one of the most riveting comebacks in sports history. It also was among the first events that broadcast Boston as an incredible golf city.

The Country Club has been included heavily when it comes to the U.S. Amateur, as well, most recently hosting the event in 2013. Some golfers on hand this week have a benefit from playing in that U.S. Amateur 10 years prior, an event won by now English professional Matt Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick is 30-to-1 to win the U.S. Open.

It undoubtedly will make for entertaining — and perhaps historic — week in Brookline.

You can follow along throughout the week of the U.S. Open with NESN’s coverage from The Country Club here.

Thumbnail photo via Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports Images
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