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There was no secret as to why the 1963 U.S. Open was awarded to The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. It was, after all, the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest upsets in major championship history, when local lad Francis Ouimet, a 20-year-old amateur, stunned two of the dominant British professionals of the day — Harry Vardon and Ted Ray.

Ouimet’s playoff victory singlehandedly made Americans care about golf. His winning score of 304, 12 over par, was above average for the era, but not unusually so. Ouimet posted an astonishing 1-under-par 72 in the playoff — thumping the two Englishmen by five and six shots, respectively. The Country Club layout proved challenging, but hardly brutal.

'In 1963, another three-man playoff emerged — featuring Julius Boros, Arnold Palmer and Jackie Cupit — and it unfolded on one of the toughest courses in U.S. Open annals.' Some of the difficulty was by design, and some of it was due to nature. Either way, the 1963 U.S. Open was a frightfest. Brookline that year was a monster — one with an asterisk.

The Country Club was never designed to provide a maximum test of nerve and skill, as in the case of Oakmont Country Club, or TPC Sawgrass, for that matter. However, when the time came for the national spotlight to shine on Brookline once again, change was in order.

"In the 1950s, members talked about needing a longer, more challenging golf course for national championships," says Brendan Walsh, head professional at The Country Club. "Four decades had passed since the 1913 U.S. Open. What they came up with was very unusual."

Indeed, Ouimet had triumphed over a golf course that measured approximately 6,240 yards. By the mid-1950s, it hadn’t changed much since that time, but in the late 1920s, the club had tacked on a third nine, primarily crafted by master architect William Flynn. 

Talk shifted to utilizing some of the holes on this newer Primrose nine to beef up the difficulty of the championship test the club would present to players. As a test run, The Country Club hosted the 1957 U.S. Amateur. For the first time, a composite course at Brookline served as the stage. And what an odd stage it was.

Holes 1, 2 and 4 of the Main course were dropped. A rugged new hole, the 11th, graced the composite course, a 450-yard par 4 that wasn’t really an actual golf hole at all. It was a combination of two holes from the Primrose nine that used the tee box and fairway from Primrose's first and the green of Primrose's second. By combining a short par 4 and a short par 3 into a vicious dogleg-left par 4 — its green fronted by water — The Country Club now possessed new, if contrived, vigor. Credit for the idea went to Ginny Pearson, the wife of Charlie Pearson, a club member and USGA vice president.

For the 1963 U.S. Open, The Country Club’s Open course was lengthened further, to 6,870 yards, and par was reduced to 71. Holes 1, 2 and 4 were inserted into the championship layout, while holes 9, 10 and 12 from the Main course were expunged. The powers that be weren’t done fiddling with the sanctity of the layout, however. The par-4 2nd hole, normally 289 yards, was converted into a healthy par 3 of 185 yards, providing an early opportunity to play a precise long iron.

Still, Brookline wasn’t expected to offer the fearsome test that the Olympic Club did in 1955 or Oakland Hills did in 1951, when Ben Hogan labeled it, "this monster." In a June 17, 1963 U.S. Open preview piece for Sports Illustrated, reigning champion Jack Nicklaus spotlighted the course’s three main areas of difficulty: “The rough is deep and strategically planned, the greens are tiny and there is a succession of six, long, tough holes (the 9th through the 14th) capable of exhausting a golfer’s resolution to win, especially during Saturday’s 36 holes of play.”

Related: Big Jay Has His Day | Sports Illustrated | July 1, 1963

Nicklaus noted that once reached, the greens would be difficult to putt, but not nearly so difficult as they were at Oakmont the year before. He even turned weather forecaster: “A very cold winter and a very dry spring have slowed their preparation considerably and some have been reseeded, but they should all be ready by the Open.”

They weren’t.

As historian Robert Sommers observed in his 1987 book, The U.S. Open: Golf’s Ultimate Challenge, “The course was not in the best condition, principally because of bad luck. In a frigid New England winter, sheets of ice had covered the greens for weeks, causing severe damage, warm spring weather that would have helped them had arrived late and vandals had sneaked onto the course and carved up one green only days before the Open began."

Yet, Sommers stated that the blemished greens weren’t the primary cause for the soaring scores. “Condition aside,” he wrote, “the main cause of the high scores was a high and unpredictable wind. It swirled around Brookline and tossed flying balls from one side of the fairway to the other. The last day (36 holes) was memorable. Of the fifty-one players who made the cut (of 10-over-par 152), only three men shot 72, one stroke over par. [Julius] Boros was one of them, making his in the fourth round, but it had followed a 76 in the morning that he believed had knocked him out of the tournament. It hadn’t; only nine men had done better. Fourteen shot 80 or higher, and Tommy Aaron shot 91 (as the strokes piled up, Aaron waved his handkerchief aloft and begged, ‘Where do I surrender?’ Twelve more failed to break 80 in the afternoon, when the wind slackened.”

One player after the next frittered away his chances. With Cupit two shots ahead with two to play, Boros began to empty his locker. Then word reached Boros that Cupit had double-bogied the historic par-4 17th. Cupit had a chance to win at 18, but failed to convert a 12-foot birdie putt. Boros, Palmer and Cupit would play off the next day.

In the end, victory went to Boros, who scraped it around in 70 strokes. Cupit shot 73, and Palmer a dispiriting 76, which included a misadventure at Ginny Pearson’s Frankenstein monster of an 11th hole. Palmer hooked his drive into an old rotted tree stump and rather than taking a drop or re-teeing, he chose to play it as it lay. Disaster. He took three whacks before finally freeing it. His triple-bogey seven on the hole that was created expressly to add challenge to Brookline finished off the King.

The Country Club produced the highest winning score since Sam Parks posted 299 at Oakmont in 1935. Brookline was more mellow than monster for the 1988 U.S. Open, which followed a Rees Jones restoration. 

Curtis Strange and Nick Faldo, two of the world’s best at that time, played off after finishing at 6-under-par 278. Ten players bettered the par of 284, and another five matched it. The overall scoring average was 73.87, a far cry from 1963, when that number was 77.55, the seventh highest scoring average in relation to par since World War II. 

In stroke play qualifying ahead of the 2013 U.S. Amateur, only a handful of players matched or broke The Country Club’s par of 70. The field included Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau and eventual winner Matthew Fitzpatrick.

If the weather cooperates this year, competitors will see a sufficiently testing, old-fashioned, lay-of-the-land layout that will engage, but not brutalize. If the wind decides to get frisky, however, we could well see a return of the Brookline Green Monster.