by Jeff Skinner
Amateur golfers seem to be getting some well deserved exposure this past week. Sixteen year old Lydia Ko has continued her astounding performance in professional events. The recent CN Canadian Open repeat winner has made the cut in all fourteen of the professional tournaments she entered.
Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick won the grueling U.S. Amateur to continue his very successful summer. He was the low amateur at the Open Championship and will lead the GB&I Walker Cup Team next month at the National Golf Links of America.
Fitzpatrick captured more than the Havemayer Trophy, which is given to the Amateur Champion. He captured the true spirit of amateurism on the very ground of the greatest amateur win in history. And he won the favor of the fans that walked the fabled Country Club course. With his fourteen year old brother on his bag it didn’t take much to imagine what Francis Ouimet and his young caddy Eddie Lowery looked like 100 years ago.
Ouimet essentially kick started the game of golf in America in 1913 when he beat all the best golfers of the day, amateur and professional alike, at the U.S. Open on this very course.
The Country Club at Brookline has a long, storied history but none more significant than Ouimet’s win.
I made an effort to get up to The Country Club to see it for myself and try and see if the spirit of Ouimet was as palpable as advertised.
It was my first visit to an Amateur and to The Country Club. Initially I knew I wanted to get up there to see the course. It’s not often that a club as private as The Country Club lets average Joe’s behind the fence. So while I was mainly interested in seeing the links where Ouimet wrote history I stumbled onto a golf tournament that was instantly enchanting.
Unlike the U.S Opens, PGA’s and PGA Tour events there are no ropes to keep the gallery “outside the ropes.” You walk the fairways with the players and their caddies and their parents and all the other golf fans. It’s like one big block party on the sweetest of golf courses.
The atmosphere is entirely different from a professional event. It’s a leisurely stroll across amazing grounds with plenty of excellent golf for entertainment. That Mark Twain line, “Golf is a good walk spoiled” doesn’t apply here. It’s a good walk period. Actually a great walk. And there was not one “Mashed Potatoes” to be heard.
I came for the course but was captivated by the players, not only by their skills but their attitude. If golf is truly a gentleman’s game there is no better example than the Amateur.
The Country Club is full of history and Fitzpatrick and his mates added to that. It was an exciting week of golf and the spirit of Ouimet is alive and walking the magnificent holes of The Country Club.