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Back to The Country Club

Next week a historic Boston institution, this year celebrating its 75th anniversary, will be host for the fourth time to the U.S. Amateur championship

It is a country club and it lies in the town of Brookline (on the outskirts of Boston) and so careless people sometimes refer to it as the Brookline Country Club. Anyone who makes this error in the presence of a club member who has had a bad day with the broom on the curling rink is guaranteed to know better henceforth. It is The Country Club. It is The Country Club for a perfectly logical reason. When it was founded in 1882, it was the first deep-in-the-country institution of its kind to come into existence: "...the general idea," so went the original invitation to prospective members, "is to have a comfortable club-house for the use of members with their families, a simple restaurant, bed-rooms, bowling-alley, lawn tennis grounds, and so on; also to have race-meetings and, occasionally, music in the afternoons...." What no one appreciated at the time was that this conception of a rural headquarters for sporting and social recreation—a conception native to America, incidentally—would prove to be so popular that similar country clubs would spring up by the hundreds across the breadth of the United States and, by the '20s, quite transform the social habits and attitudes of well-to-do Americans.

Golf in time became the sport at The Country Club, one of the five clubs which banded together in 1894 to found the United States Golf Association. Besides serving as the venue for the famous Open of 1913, the club was host to the Amateur in 1910, 1922 and 1934, the Walker Cup match of 1932 and the Women's Amateur in 1902 and 1941. In this present era of ever-advancing equipment and souped-up balls, courses quickly became obsolete and today the 6,435-yard layout over which the Amateur was played in 1934 would be decidedly too short to provide a suitable championship test. The Country Club, fortunately, has long possessed 27 holes. Adroit rerouting by the Championship Committee (headed by Charley Devens, the old Harvard and Yankee pitcher) created for the 1957 Amateur a course which employs three lengthy "new" holes (from the extra nine) and measures some 6,845 yards, which is certainly long enough. On the accompanying study map, the 1957, 1934 and 1913 layouts are all delineated, and the reader will find it of great assistance in following the story of Francis Ouimet's 1913 victory, which changed the course of American golf.