The giants of golf have assembled in Boston this week, from Tiger to Phil to Adam. In fact, they’re a threesome Friday, in a pairing worthy of Ouimet/Vardon/Ray, the very one we witnessed 100 Septembers ago in a legendary U.S. Open playoff. Today's triumvirate, though, is part of a different playoff — the playoffs, to be precise. They’re teeing off at the TPC Boston in the Deutsche Bank Championship, a cash-heavy PGA Tour event that continues to gain in significance, if not stature. Yet, it’s great to have the top players back in Boston, where golf history and American history are enmeshed as with no other city. Now we just need Tiger and company back at a Boston U.S. Open.
Why did Merion get the U.S. Open this year and not The Country Club in Brookline, which would have marked the 100th anniversary of Ouimet’s shocking triumph? Some finger former USGA executive director David Fay, who made the call in 2006. Fay blamed a composite course with too many mediocre holes, too many spectator bottlenecks and insufficient advocacy from USGA insiders.
While we all rejoiced at seeing Merion on the big stage again, and yes, The Country Club took home a consolation prize, hosting the U.S. Amateur, I can’t help but think we blew it by not holding the U.S. Open here. Ouimet singlehandedly made Americans care about golf. Fifty years later, Julius Boros and Arnold Palmer waged a stirring duel with Jacky Cupit before Boros won that three-way playoff. Curtis Strange defeated only one player in his 1988 U.S. Open playoff win, but it was the formidable Nick Faldo. And Justin Leonard made us raise our arms and exalt at the 1999 Ryder Cup.
A few indifferent holes? Some spectator logjams? C’mon. The Country Club is living, breathing American golf history, and there hasn’t been a U.S. Open in New England since Strange’s ’88 win. We gotta come back. Fay’s successor, Mike Davis, is inclined to agree. On semifinal Saturday at this year’s U.S. Am, Davis told the Boston Globe, “There is zero doubt that this golf course is good enough for an Open. Zero. There’s so much history to The Country Club, this is one of the USGA’s five founding clubs, arguably the greatest U.S. Open of all time with [Francis Ouimet in ’13 was played here.”
I’m with Davis. It’s not that I’m so enamored with The Country Club’s composite layout. I have to confess that I eliminated that particular layout from Golf Magazine Top 100 consideration back in 2005. Not only did I think composite configurations should not be considered as real courses, but The Country Club’s was particularly goofy, where in one case, they forge two holes from the Primrose nine to make up one hole on the Composite course. That said, it richly deserves another U.S. Open. I like a proper test just like anybody else, but when it’s the U.S. Open, I crave authentic aura as much as architectural integrity. Bring the U.S. Open back to Brookline. While we’re young.