The Country Club
Brookline, Massachusetts, United States of America

Eighth hole, 380 yards, Corner; In the beginning, The Country Club leased 105 acres, which they purchased a few years later. Over the next twenty years, they acquired an additional 70 acres in various bites. A final tract of 55 acres in 1923 made the Primrose nine a reality. In 1904, the eighth green butted against the corner of the property, hence its name.

The highly strategic sub 400 ayrder rewards thoughtful play. The green is open and best accepts shot from the right. Alas, that is where three fairway bunkers are located. Laying back of them into the swollen right side of the fairway is worth consideration.

This strategic sub 400 yarder rewards thoughtful play. The green is open and best accepts shots from the right. Alas, that is where three fairway bunkers are located. Laying behind them into the swollen right side of the fairway is worth consideration.

Ninth hole, 515 yards, Himalayas; Appropriately named, this might well be New England’s finest three shot hole. Alas, it will be function as a two-shotter for the 2013 Amateur! Similar to the third, its fairway twists and turns past a rock ledge, a tempting carry for the tiger who be left with only a mid iron to the elevated green. A world-class course – by definition – must possess world-class golf holes and the third and ninth are two such holes. Another prerequisite is that the course must reflect its surrounds and one play of the ninth leaves the golfer no doubt that he is in New England.

The tiger shortens the hole by carrying the rock ledge on the right.

The tiger shortens the hole by carrying the rock ledge on the right.

The view from behind the 11th hole shows not only the rock ledge that must be carried but also the creek of which the drive must stay short.

The view from behind the ninth hole shows not only the rock ledge that must be carried but also the creek 360 yards from the elevated tee of which the drive must stay short.

Tenth hole, 480 yards, Stockton; Ouimet noted that the course was ‘subtle.’ Considering its old world charm, one might assume that today’s course has been in play ever since 1899. That’s just not true and in fact over ten architects have worked on the golf course during the past century plus, trying to tweak the course toward perfection. Recently, Hanse added a pair of bunkers at the right edge of this fairway. Previously, the golfer smashed a drive over the crest of the hill and received a big scoot forward. Now, he needs to be wary of the perfectly placed new bunkers. Not only do they defend the portion of the fairway that offers the most level stances, they create the perfect tension with the left greenside bunkers ahead.

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Though they may look like they have been there since 1899, these bunkers were built in 2010. Wonderfully realized by Hanse, they make the hole much more strategic. Head Professional Brendan Walsh considers it to be one of the best sleeper holes on the course.

Eleventh hole, 450 yards; No club is more tightly tied to the United States Golf Association than The Country Club. In addition to being one of its five founding members in 1894, The Country Club has produced six U.S.G.A. presidents. In preparation for the 1957 U.S. Amateur, a decision was made to combine the first and second holes of the Primrose course into a long par four with a forced carry over water for the approach shot. Even with the addition of this new hole, the pundits expected record low scoring in the 1963 U.S. Open. Like Merion in 2013, they were proved sadly wrong; nine over par played off for the title in 1963.

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The medium long par four first and par three second on William Flynn’s Primrose nine are combined to create an unsympathetic 450 yarder (Flynn’s first green can be seen in the foreground short of the water). As Arnold Palmer can attest, driving in the fairway is paramount. On this hole he registered two 7′s that cost him the 1963 U.S. Open championship.

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As seen from behind, finding the bending, rumpled fairway through century old specimen trees is no mean feat. Adding to the challenge is that the fairway is blind from the tee.

Twelfth hole, 625 yards; Wait until the 2013 U.S. Amateur contestants see this hole! It previously played as a two shotter in big events but the club and the U.S.G.A. became disgruntled that the fairway ran out 310 yards from the par four tee.  While not an issue at the last big event (the 1999 Ryder Cup), technology and agronomy have conspired to make 300 yard plus drives common at the highest level of play. Having golfers lay back off the tee on a long par seemed wrong so it was decided to create a beast of a par five. Like the previous hole, a premium is placed on getting in the fairway. Otherwise, mounting the forty foot ridge found some 150 yards short of the green becomes highly unlikely. This hole makes its debut on television August 2013 and it might well be the greatest par five hole that only a few people have ever seen.

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Bring it on! Like it has since hosting the 1902 U.S. Women’s Open, The Country Club stands ready to defend par and identify the best player. A 300 yard drive leaves a steeply uphill 225 yard carry to reach the fairway at the crest of the hill.

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As seen from behind, the golfer hopes to reach the upper plateau in two to set up a straightforward pitch for a cherished birdie. Conversely, the golfer who misses the fairway off the tee is likely left with a blind hybrid third shot from back where pars are gratefully appreciated.

Thirteenth hole, 435 yards; A somewhat unusual sight greets the golfer on the tee: a straight playing corridor where the flag and entire putting surface are visible from the tee! To this point in the round, that’s only been true at the eighth hole. Various design ploys keep the golfer off balance at The Country Club including tee balls over ridges and crests, fairways that move in one direction or the other, elevated green sites and sometimes greens hidden from view. Here, the fairway bends slightly from left to right and shaping a fade into the fairway is highly satisfying. Brookline has always been considered a ‘placement’ course first and foremost and it’s no wonder that tacticians like Julius Boros and Curtis Strange fared so well here.

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William Flynn designed this hole and it opened for play in 1929, just when steel shafts were beginning to replace hickory. The Country Club couldn’t have hired an architect with a better design ethos to meld his new work with the club’s existing eighteen holes. Flynn’s touch always appeared light on the land and he favored canted greens as opposed to ones with wild interior contours. No doubt, the Scot Willie Campbell and all those who preceded Flynn would have approved.

Fourteenth 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 sixth and fifteenth holes play in a straight line from tee to green, otherwise the holes, like this three-shotter bend one way or another. A long tee ball over a unique grass covered excavation mound shaped like a horseshoe may bring the green into 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 were a common occurrence.

This unique horseshoe mound must be carried off the fourteenth tee.

This unique horseshoe mound must be carried off the fourteenth tee. It indicates where a quarry once was.

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Notice the beautiful rolls found within the fairway in the two photographs above.

 

As seen from the side, approach shots that come up just short will likely roll thirty yards back down the hill.

As seen from the side, approach shots that come up just short will likely roll thirty yards back down the hill.

Fifteenth hole, 490 yards, Liverpool; As played for the 2013 U.S. Amateur, this hole caps off the hardest six hole stretch with which the author is familiar. Beginning at the Himalayas ninth, the golfer plays six brutally long holes, all  two-shotters except for the monster three-shot twelfth. What a daunting stretch, regardless of high tech shafts and forgiving 460cc club heads.

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Liverpool historically played 435 yards for the last several big men’s events. Hanse added a new tee in 2011, lengthening the hole by some 55 yards. This championship tee fits in well because the 5,250 square foot green is the largest on the course and is open in front.

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