Companion Course Also Witness to History


The 18th hole at Charles River Country Club, which occupies a special place in Massachusetts golf history. (USGA/Chris Keane)
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
August 13, 2013

 

NEWTON, Mass. – One would think, with its 16 USGA championships and status as a founding member club of the USGA, that The Country Club has pretty much cornered the market on golf lore at this week’s U.S. Amateur Championship. But that would be wrong.

Companion stroke-play qualifying course Charles River Country Club may be a relative stripling, having been founded in 1922 – some 40 years after The Country Club – but it boasts a distinguished history, both in the playing of the game and in its administration.

A pair of USGA champions has called Charles River home: Marion Maney McInerney won the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur in 1992, defeating seven-time USGA champion Carol Semple Thompson in 19 holes, and Stanley “Ted” Bishop captured the 1946 U.S. Amateur, defeating Smiley Quick in 37 holes at Baltusrol Golf Club. A fellow member, James Driscoll, lost the U.S. Amateur final at Baltusrol, to Jeff Quinney in 39 holes in 2000. Driscoll, now a member of the PGA Tour, also lost in a U.S. Junior Amateur final in 1995.

At age 15, Driscoll captured his club championship, which might seem a routine accomplishment for someone who would go on to win two Massachusetts State Amateur titles on the way to the PGA Tour. But Charles River is not your typical golf club.

“What really sets us apart, I think, is the number of our players who compete in USGA events,” said Paul Murphy, a longtime member and keeper of club history. “When Pam Kuong recently made the Senior Women’s Amateur and the Women’s State Team, it meant that since 1978, we have had a total of 18 members participate in a total of 112 USGA championships.”

Charles River routinely has several players contend on the state and regional levels as well. Kuong, for example, has won two Women’s State Amateurs and two New England senior titles. In the same year that Bishop won his U.S. Amateur, he also captured the state and New England crowns.

Charles River was designed by Donald Ross, and its layout along the famous waterway that empties into Boston Harbor had a rousing exhibition in its opening year of 1922. Local hero Francis Ouimet was joined by professionals Walter Hagen, Joe Kirkwood and Gene Sarazen, who at age 20 had recently won his first U.S. Open and PGA championships. Sarazen, a former caddie who cited Ouimet’s 1913 U.S. Open victory as an inspiration for his Hall of Fame career, shot a course-record 72, beating the combined best ball of Hagen and Kirkwood all by himself and he and Ouimet took a 3-and-2 win.

The course record was lowered in order by Bob Jones, Byron Nelson and Bobby Locke as the club hosted professional events such as the Goodall Invitational Round Robin (won by Locke in 1947, in a field that included Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Jimmy Demaret) and the Carlings Golf Classic (won by Doug Ford over Art Wall Jr. in 1955). Young professionals Arnold Palmer and Billy Casper finished well back in that 1955 event. On Tuesday, the course mark was lowered again, to 63, by Bo Andrews, a Georgia Tech player from Raleigh, N.C., during U.S. Amateur stroke-play qualifying. That bettered a 64 in the 2003 USGA Men’s State Team Championship by Ricky Jones of Maine.

Club history is well documented thanks to the efforts of Murphy, who was asked to join a committee to oversee a course renovation in 1995 as the club neared its 75th year.

“I began researching to find out what the course looked like in the 1920s and 1930s,” said Murphy. “I talked to older members, visited libraries and historical societies, and I really enjoyed finding the photos and some of the history involved.”

Other luminaries at Charles River include Harry McCracken, a longtime New England golf administrator who won the USGA’s Joe Dey Award in 2007; Mildred Prunaret, a chairman of the USGA’s Women’s Committee who captained the Curtis Cup (1960) and Women’s World Amateur (1970) teams and for whom the Women’s Mid-Amateur trophy is named; and Ed Stimpson, who won the club’s first Presidents Cup title, shortly before earning golf notoriety by inventing the Stimpmeter to measure relative green speeds.

Ouimet joined Charles River in 1921, and was awarded an honorary membership in 1929. Although he retained a lifelong club affiliation with Woodland Golf Club across town, Ouimet joined friends, among them Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Cronin, for a regular weekly game at Charles River throughout his life.

His 1913 U.S. Open caddie, Eddie Lowery, was also a member at Charles River before moving to California. He won the Mass. Amateur in 1927 and captured a pair of club championships, in 1933 and 1936. Lowery’s older brother, Jack – a footnote to “the greatest game ever played” – was also a longtime member at Charles River. Jack Lowery was supposed to caddie for Ouimet at Brookline in 1913 before he ran into school truancy issues, thus losing out on “the bag of the century,” as Murphy called it, to his 10-year-old brother.

Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org.

 

THE RULES OF GOLF APP
Get The Rules of Golf App For Your iPhone Or Android Today
Follow the USGA
Become a Facebook Fan of the USGAFollow us on Twitter @USGA
World Amateur Golf Ranking
WAGR Counting Event
Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
Chevron
   

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image
Rolex
   

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.



Rolex image
IBM
   

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image
Lexus
   

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express
   

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment


AmEx image