Bob McIver, a reader and an executive of a small air-services company in Montana, attended the recent U.S. Amateur, in Boston. He went because his son, Brandon, who plays for the University of Oregon, was a competitor. Brandon had qualified by shooting 65-70 at Old Works Golf Club, Anaconda, Montana, the month before. (The 65 was a course record.) Bob McIver writes:
The event was held at the Country Club, in Brookline, and Charles River Country Club, in Newton. The differences in their setup was stark. Charles River is a Donald Ross course, built in 1921. The fairways were wide, sometimes fifty or sixty yards; the greens were very large, with big undulations; and the greenside bunkers were nicely trimmed. One volunteer, a member, told me it was playing the way it does for members: rough not too long, greens about 11 on the Stimpmeter, fairways as wide as they normally are.
By contrast, the Country Club was unruly: fairways about thirty yards wide; first cut of rough just two yards wide; primary rough very thick and very lush. Brown, knee-high grass came into play around the greenside bunkers and some fairways. The greens were tiny, perhaps only a third the size of those at Charles River. They didn’t have much undulation, but many were steeply pitched from back to front or side to side. The back quarter of No. 18 could’t accept a hole location, because of the slope. An employee told me that many members had quit playing several weeks back because the U.S.G.A. setup was just too tough.
The event itself resembled a very large college tournament: lots of young bucks running around with college-logo golf bags and very nice golf swings.
Perhaps most impressive were the the Country Club’s facilities. I counted fifteen separate buildings in an aerial photo, including a clubhouse, horse stables (U.S.G.A. headquarters of the event), swimming pool, warming house for ice-skating, skeet-shooting facility (the range is over the first fairway, and is presumably used only when the course is closed), golf shop, men’s locker room, a museum building, and several others. It looked more like a compound than a country club.
Brandon shot 71-78, and missed match play by five shots. “After that, he decided it wasn’t so fun anymore,” his father told me, “so I sucked up some airline travel penalties and we came home early.” Next year!