by Jeff Skinner
Countdown to the U.S. Open: 11 days
As Matt Kuchar and his fellow PGA Tour professionals finish their testing run at Jack Nicklaus’ difficult Muirfield Village Course hundreds of workers are busy at Merion putting the final touches on the historic course for the U.S. Open which will start in just eleven days.
Those players that have spent the weekend at The Memorial should consider this good practice for the difficult greens and punishing setup that they’ll face at the 113th U.S. Open. The course may be difficult but compared to what to takes to put on an Open it’s a walk in the park.
This year’s Open is being shoe-horned into a site that measures just about half as big as the USGA has needed for the past twenty years. With only 110 acres available at Merion it has taken some creative thinking and plenty of cooperation from the Ardmore community to allow the USGA to come back to this living museum of golf history.
“The Merion grounds are about half the size of a 21st-century United States Open location. The club is confined by public roads, a bordering college, a meandering railway and dozens of homes.
In scale, bringing the modern United States Open to little Merion and its serene suburban environs is like bringing the Super Bowl to a small-college football field. And in this case, the Super Bowl comes for four consecutive days.
When the first tee shots rise into the air June 13, golf fans should be ready for things they have never seen before at a United States Open — and not just caddies reading putts with an eye on their wristwatches.
When was the last time a golfer in a major championship hooked a shot just 25 yards off line and landed in somebody’s patio barbecue grill? Or a second-floor bedroom? It’s possible on Merion’s 15th hole.
No wonder Mike Davis, the U.S.G.A. executive director, has taken to calling this year’s event “a boutique U.S. Open.”