The Country Club,
Brookline, MA, USA
9th hole, 425 yards, Paddock; This is the first hole played on the members’ course that is not part of the Open course, and ironically, for some, it is their favorite hole on the property. From an elevated tee, thedrivehits into the side of a hill from where the golfer is left with a blind approach to a green that falls away. A twenty foot drop off istwo paces fromthe back of the green. Given the firm playing conditions that Spence seeks, the golfer who has missed the fairway knows that he must land his approach some 10-20 yards shy of the green. Anythingcloser and the ball willscoot across the green and plunge into the deep grassy hollow.
10th hole, 325 yards, Maiden; This is the second hole not incorporated into the Open Course and while itmay not be great, it is neat. A manufactured mound guards the front of the green and the golferwon’tknow if his pitch approach finished on the putting surface until he passes around it.
11th hole, 515 yards, Himalayas; Appropriately named, this might well be New England’sfinest three shot hole (although one of the authors prefers the 14th here!). Similar with the 3rd,its fairway twists and turns past a rock ledge with the tigertempted to carry it off the tee and be left with a mid iron into the elevated green. A world class course must- by definition – possess world class golf holes and the 3rd and11thare twosuch holes.
12th hole, 130 yards, Redan; Inappropriately named, the third and final hole not used for the Open is a drop shot par three to another tiny green. The hole is within reach of everyone and there is nothing terribly fancy about it but the green often proves elusive.
14th hole, 535 yards, Quarry; The Country Club is a cunning course in the sense that the better golfer can always seek an advantage. Only the 6th and 15th holes play in a straight line from tee to green and otherwise, like here on the three shot 14th, the holesbend one way or another. A long tee ball over a unique horseshoe mound may bring the green in reach but the elevated green has the most back to front pitch on the course. Wedge shots spinning off the green (and even down the hill) in the 1999 Ryder Cup werea commonoccurence.
18th hole, 420 yards, Home; No man can walk up the 18th fairway and not be moved by a sense of history and of all the great players and events that have preceded him. However, the hole itself is highly memorable in its own right, thanks to its heavily contoured putting surface which flares up in the back and the massive cross bunker that fronts the green. Architecurally, the hole is also noteworthy for being a splendid hole laid out over dead flat land (in fact, the fairway used to be part of the racecourse). The golfer must find the fairway from the tee as no shot from the roughis likely to carry the crossbunker yethold the firm putting surface.While modern architects pride themselves on giving all levels of players a way to playa hole, this hole makes for a wonderfully uncompromising finish, the kind of old fashioned finish thatone might hope for at a place like this.
In summary, the 9th, 10th, and 12th holes that make up the members course are fine golf holes in their own right, especially theexcellent 9th. The Open course picks up somerequired muscle when the wedge approach shots to the 10th and 12th holes are replaced by two brute par fours from Flynn’s Primrose nine. Still, for everyday play, the members’ course deserves to be known far and wide based on its own merits. In particular, the give and take within the course (for instance, the half par 4th and 6thholes nicely compliment the difficult 3rd and 7th)ensures that the membersalwayslook forward to their nextgo around the course.
Given The Country Club’spreeminent position, hard to imagine that many of the great architectshaven’tcometo study this design. What would they learn from theirvisits here? Afterall, the rugged New England topography highlighted at the 3rd and 11th holes can’t be reproduced in Chicago anymore than the cliffs at Pebble Beach.Perhaps the architects might appreciate how the land forms were used and if ahillock madethe 5th fairway blind for instance, so be it. Perhaps they might appreciate the art of finding the ideal green location such as atop the crest of the hill at the 14th.Perhaps theymight appreciate that greens need to have either contour (e.g. the 7th) or cant (e.g. the 4th) to test the best. Perhaps they mightappreciate that bunkers are meant to behazards and shouldn’t look pressed and clean (the 8th). And perhaps most of all theymight learn that there is no reason to resort to cheap tricks:give players fast and firm playing conditions and small greens as targets and the course will alwaysstand ready to test the best.