BROOKLINE, Massachusetts (AP) — If any US Open golfers are still looking for a place to stay this week, there’s a house across the street from The Country Club, and the location isn’t the best.
The three-bedroom, 1.5-bath 1887 house was the childhood home of Francis Ouimet, a self-taught former caddy who crossed Clyde Street to win the 1913 tournament. The playoff victory over British professionals Harry Vardon and Ted Ray was hailed in the book and film as “The Greatest Game Ever Played” and is credited with spreading golf throughout the United States.
The property at 246 Clyde has long passed from the Ouime family when it was purchased in 2019 and restored to the style he lived in a second-floor bedroom overlooking the 17th hole of the Country Club. Antique furniture was brought in to decorate the house, and art is dedicated to Ouimet and his role as the founding father of American golf.
“We want to keep him in golf,” said Tom Hines, a neighbor who orchestrated the deal and is raising money to pay for it. “The reason for buying it was to somehow preserve it for golf history.”
Commercial real estate broker and nephew of former Boston Mayor John Hines, Tom Hines lives down the street from Ouimet’s home. He saw his owners walking their dogs in the neighborhood.
“When you are ready to sell your house, I will be your buyer,” he told them.
They got in touch towards the end of 2019, and a day later they had a handshake deal that was worth $875,000, according to property records. “And then I formed an LLC and went with a pewter mug to buy it,” Hines said.
But Hines isn’t done yet. Since then, he has overseen the restoration of the Ouimet era style home to showcase during the Open Championship. Hines, who has done millions of square feet of deals in his real job, is doing so pro bono.
“Of all the deals I’ve made over the past 50 years, this one is by far one of the top 5 most important. And it’s not about the money,” he said. “Could you pay me enough to do this. This is strictly for keeping the golf home.”
The tale of bowel rehabilitation will be familiar to homeowners who have carried out work in their homes full of supply chain delays and hidden structural flaws that have added to the cost and delayed completion.
Two weeks to remove the finish applied and re-applied over more than a century from the staircase. Making contingency plans for window air conditioners, hoping the actual HVAC system will be delivered on time.
The original wide wood floors were in such poor condition that the contractor offered to rip them out and replace them.
“I said, ‘No, no. No you do not know. We’re not going to break the floor in Francis Huime’s bedroom,” Hynes said.
Instead, the boards were carefully removed, sent to be nailed, cleaned, planed and re-toned and grooved, and then replaced. Last week they were sanded and painted with tongue oil.
Hines declined to say how much was spent on the project in total.
“I prefer not to do it now because even the LLC partners don’t know how much we have already spent,” he said with a laugh. “I’d better break the news to them gently.
But there were also more pleasant surprises.
When the workers dismantled the shelf in the attic, they found two golf clubs – judging by the era, they are believed to have belonged to Ouimet. They may have been worn by 10-year-old caddy Eddie Lowry when Ouimet beat the famous British pros in a clash that spawned a golf boom in the New World.
“That’s what’s so great about golf, it’s the history, the traditions and those stories,” said Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who counts the 2011 US Open as one of his four major championships. “The fact that he grew up here near the 17th hole and we are still talking about it to this day, over 100 years later. That is so cool. That’s the great thing about this sport.”
The project did make some concessions to modern life.
The kitchen is equipped with stainless steel appliances. The doors were widened to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Sprinkler system installed. The screen door on the front porch, painted green, like much of the Country Club trim itself, features two crossed gold golf clubs carved into its frame.
New cedar siding to replace vinyl siding – that will have to wait until stage 2, along with energy efficient windows to match the original style.
In the weeks leading up to the US Open, workers rushed to tear down the unsightly fence, while Hines himself planted shrubs and flowers to give the property some oomph. The furniture has been delivered, the paint is drying, and a portrait of Huime and golf clubs, believed to be his, are hung on the walls.
Hines, who hosted the player in his own home at the 1988 US Open – the last time the tournament was hosted at The Country Club – said he hopes to show Ouime’s house this week to golfers and anyone interested in the history of the sport. .
What if they need a place to sleep?
“If someone showed up and wanted to rent this place,” he said, “we would be in the know.”