Harvard Facilities: The Country Club

Harvard Facilities: The Country Club

The Country Club

As a member of the Harvard Golf Team, you have the privilege to play on The Country Club (TCC) golf course.  At this course, American golfers first proved they were equal to their overseas opponents.  Host of the the 33rd Ryder Cup amongst other notable tournaments, TCC’s golf course is remarkable for its history and subtlety of challenge.

In 1882, J. Murray Forbes and a group of his Boston Friends agreed to establish a club where gentlemen could pursue their interest in horse racing.   Lawn tennis and a bowling alley would also be available, plus occasional dining and, sporadically, afternoon music for the ladies.  The club (named after a social club that Forbes encountered while in Shanghai), was not formed with any thought of the Old Scottish links game.

America's first country club is still the site today for numerous other
worldclass pursuits apart from golf. The pond behind the 3rd green was
used by Tenley Albright in preparing for her figure skating gold medal.

In the Brookline countryside, these men found a site of approximately 100 acres that included the Clyde Park Hotel and a racetrack.  The property was rented for five years then purchased by the 400 members, who decided that the pleasures of their sporting club were worth the 5 ½ mile trip from Beacon Hill.

In 1892, Florence Boit, returning from a visit to France, brought back golf sticks and several golf balls.  Three members of The Country Club (TCC) tried out the new sport, became immediate converts, and that autumn requested that the club’s executive committee appropriate $50 for the laying out of six holes on the Clyde park grounds.  The following spring, an exhibition was presented in order to interest other members in golf.  Members were quickly fascinated by the sport and ten sets of clubs were immediately ordered.  The club’s first championship was played in 1893, with H.C. Leeds winning the 18-hole competition (three times around on the course) with a score of 109.

Interest in the game was so strong that three holes were added and, in 1894 Scottish golf professional Willie Campbell was hired to come to America and teach the game to TCC’s members. Campbell, who helped redesign the course, suggested that a herd of sheep be purchased to serve as a low cost grounds maintenance crew.  Also in 1894, The Country Club joined with four other clubs to form the golfing organization that became the USGA.

In 1899, the TCC course was expanded to 18 holes, which did not please all members, for animosity was growing between the equestrians and golfers.  Riders, irritated by the now-constant danger of being struck by golf balls, took their revenge by leaving the horses’ hoof prints on the greens and chasing the maintenance crew around the property.

By 1902, TCC’s layout was considered sufficiently challenging, causing “Golf” magazine to state (vigorously by the then-President Teddy Roosevelt), “The course is a capital test of golf, for a good player will find that he has had use for almost every club in his bag before he has completed the round.”  And, walking off the 18th green, “the question that occurs to even the best player is: ‘How on earth did I make such an absurdly bad score? There’s nothing difficult about the links.’  The secret lies largely in the fact that the course is extremely well laid out.”

In the fall of 1902, the U.S. Women’s National Championship was played at TCC.  The competitors all wore floor-length skirts, which became an even greater inconvenience when saddened by the week’s heavy rain.  Genevieve Hocker, who had one drive measured at 193 yards, won the title before a crowd that numbered in the thousands.

An additional nine hole course, named Primrose, was built at The Country Club in 1927, but not until the 1963 Open was the present championship course configuration used.  To create a longer, more difficult layout, No.2 was switched from a par 4 to a par 3, and No. 9, 10, and 12 were eliminated in favor of Primrose holes 1 & 2 (combined), 8 and 9.  For the 1913 Open, the course measured 6,245 yards, and for the 33rd Ryder Cup, 7,033 yards.

On the current layout, 12 out of 15 holes (minus the three par 3’s) are doglegs.  TCC is often described as a ‘second-shot course because the approaches to the small greens are critical.  Francis Ouimet, captain of the 1932 U.S. Walker Cup team warned both teams before the competition began, “Gentleman, this is a very subtle-course.”

Golf’s popularity eventually wore down the equestrians, who staged their last race day at The Country Club in 1935.  In recognition of the club’s origins, the racetrack remained in place (circling the 1st and 18th fairways) until 1969.

Along with The Ryder Cup, TCC has hosted three Opens, five U.S. Men’s amateurs (1910, 1922, 1934, 1957, 1982), three U.S. Women’s Amateurs (1902, 1941, 1995), the 1953 Junior Girls’ Championship, the 1968 Junior Boys’ Championship, and the 1932 and 1973 Walker Cups, which were both won by the U.S. squads.

The Country Club hosted 2013 US Amateur on the 100th anniversary of Francis Ouimet’s US Open victory, and will host the 122nd U.S. Open in 2022. It will be the fourth time The Country Club hosted the major championship and first time since 1988. 

TPC Boston:
On days when The Country Club is not available, members of the Harvard golf teams practice and play at TPC Boston.   Originally designed by Arnold Palmer, TPC Boston’s award-winning golf course was re-designed in 2007 by celebrated golf course architect Gil Hanse, with PGA TOUR player Brad Faxon serving as a consultant. The result is a compelling par-72, 7,241-yard golf course named by Golf Digest the “Best Private Remodel of 2007.”  Lush fairways, Bentgrass greens and 58 bunkers create a superb test of golf in Norton’s Great Woods. The course has hosted one of the five FedExCup playoffs each year since inception of the event.  As part of the TPC Network and home to professional golf in Boston, you can be sure that playing conditions at TPC Boston are maintained to PGA TOUR-quality standards year-round.  Complementing the golf course is a recently renovated practice facility where players can hone their skills. The facility features a 70,000 square-foot practice tee, two putting greens, pitching and chipping areas and practice bunkers. 

Indoor Practice Facility

Harvard Golf is fortunate to have the facilities needed for any team member to maintain and improve their game year-round.  On campus, team members have 24/7 access to our indoor practice facility, which includes: 

  • Four hitting stations with TrueStrike silicone mats for more realistic feel
  • A Trackman launch monitor / game improvement device
  • A 2,000 square foot putting green with multiple slopes and chipping areas
  • Storage lockers for team members’ clubs and equipment.  
  • A conference / meeting room

In the fall of 2019, we enhanced the indoor practice facility with two (2) fully equipped Trackman simulators allowing our team members to use the Trackman driving range, combine, play golf courses and all other Trackman features.

We also have access to the bubble that is installed over the football stadium during the winter months for short and medium range wedge work.

The Palmer Dixon Strength and Conditioning Center

The Palmer Dixon Strength and Conditioning Center is one of the premier strength and conditioning facilities in the country. Few, if any, facilities can match Palmer Dixon's ability to accommodate large teams in such a variety of strength training and conditioning areas with top-of-the-line equipment.

For more detailed information on the Palmer Dixon Strength and Conditioning Center, click here.