Merion Is More Than a Golf Course
by Jeff Skinner
The questions of whether the modern game had passed Merion by have been put to rest. The problem of shoe-horning a gigantic Open into a less than gigantic site was creatively solutioned by the USGA and a very receptive community. And the “imaginative” setup by Mike Davis tested the best players in the world in all aspects of their games. Some would so maybe the “test” was a bit over the top but that comes with the U.S. Open. It is always going to be the hardest, most punishing course a professional sees all season.
Merion had a distinct advantage before this Open ever teed off. With all of the history that had transpired here the fans and players were thrilled to be able to walk in the footsteps of Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino, David Graham and yes, even Olin Dutra.
Standing at the eleventh hole it was easy to imagine Jones’ approach to the green where he closed out Gene Homans in the 1930 U.S. Amateur and finished off his Grand Slam.
Walking across eighteen one could imagine knelling behind Ben Hogan, like Hy Peskin did when he snapped the iconic “1 iron photo” of Hogan.
The blending of a classic, complex golf course with a hundred years of championship history combines to form a sense of excitement and an atmosphere that says this is what golf is all about. Geoff Shackelford likens Merion to St. Andrews and calls it the American equivalent of the Old Course. And he has absolutely nailed it.
I’ve been to a few Opens and the feeling around this one was a bit different. Walking around Merion you couldn’t help but feel the difference. It’s more than fairways, greens and bunkers. It’s the cathedral of golf in America.
I only hope that the USGA, the members of Merion and the good people of Ardmore can somehow work it out so we all can come back for another historic visit.