Golf Course Review - Merion
Golf Club (East Course)
By Phil Sokol - Director of
1 - Par 4 350 Yds 2 - Par 5 556 Yds 3 - Par 3 256 Yds 4 - Par 5 628 Yds 5 - Par 4 504 Yds 6 - Par 4 487 Yds 7 - Par 4 360 Yds 8 - Par 4 359 Yds 9 - Par 3 236 Yds
10 - Par 4 303 Yds 11 - Par 4 367 Yds 12 - Par 4 403 Yds 13 - Par 3 115 Yds 14 - Par 4 464 Yds 15 - Par 4 411 Yds 16 - Par 4 430 Yds 17 - Par 3 246 Yds 18 - Par 4 521 Yds
Par 36 3,736 Yds
Par 34 3,260 Yds
Course Architects: Hugh Wilson (1912), Tom Fazio (2000) Year Opened: 1912 Location: Ardmore, Pennsylvania Slope: 142 Rating: 73.6 Par: 70 Yardage: 6,996 Key Events Held:
U.S. Open Championship (1934, 50, 71, 81, 2013)
U.S. Amateur (1916, 24, 30, 66, 89, 2005)
U.S. Women's Amateur (1926, 49)
U.S. Girls' Junior (1998)
World Amateur Team (1960)
Walker Cup (2009)
Curtis Cup (1954) Awards Won:
Ranked #8 Golf Digest - America's 100 Greatest Courses (2013-14),
#2 by Golf Digest - Best in State (Pennsylvania) (2005-14),
#10 by Golf Magazine - Top 100 World Courses (2009-11),
#7 by Golf Magazine - Top 100 U.S. Courses (2007-11),
Top 100 Most Prestigious Private Clubs in U.S. - Golf Connoisseur. Course Record:
64 (Lee Mackey, Jr - 1950; Ben Crenshaw - 1981) Website:
HISTORY:Merion Golf Club is steeped in history, dating back to 1896 when the
original course was laid out. However, in 1910 the powers that be chose to
lay out a new course to be designed by Hugh Wilson, a 32-year-old member of
the club. Wilson was sent to Scotland and England to study and play their
great links courses in an effort to gain insight and knowledge for his
crafting of a masterpiece back home.
Upon completion in September 1912, Wilson crammed 18 holes into just 126 acres
of land (some courses use over 300 acres). The Scottish immigrant also dotted
the course with 120 steep-faced, Scottish-style bunkers, which came to be
known as the "white faces of Merion." Wilson's bunkering would eventually
influence generations of architects.
Consistently ranked as one of the top-10 courses in the United States, Merion
East made its national debut when it hosted the 1916 U.S. Amateur won by Chick
Evans. It also marked the first appearance by the legendary Robert Tyre Jones
at age 14. Jones later made history at Merion in 1930 when he completed his
"Grand Slam" by winning the U.S. Amateur, following victories at the U.S. and
British Opens and the British Amateur. Jones, who also captured the 1924 U.S.
Amateur, has a plaque placed in his honor at the 11th hole commemorating
golf's grandest feat.
History at Merion is not relegated to the Amateur. The first that comes to
mind is the 1934 U.S. Open. Relative unknown Olin Dutra of
Bobby Jones, who completed golf's only "Grand Slam", has a plaque placed in his honor at the 11th hole commemorating the feat.
Los Angeles, came back from eight shots back after two rounds to defeat
legendary Gene Sarazen by one.
Bobby Cruickshank held the 36-hole lead by three over Sarazen at 142, 2-over
par. Playing 36 on the final day, Sarazen took the lead with a morning 73,
while Cruickshank shot 77 and Dutra shot 71 to trail only by three. It must be
noted that Dutra, who arrived tournament week with a stomach ailment, played
the final day terribly ill with dysentery, taking pills and sugar cubes for
Cruickshank and Sarazen were even after nine holes with Dutra still trailing
by three. At the famous 11th, Cruickshank mishit his second shot, sending it
toward the creek surrounding the green. Amazingly, the ball hit a rock in the
creek and bounded on the putting surface. Shocked, Cruickshank tossed his club
up in astonishment, yelling "Thank you, Lord." Just after bellowing this
phrase, the club came down and struck him directly on his head. Cruickshank
was never the same and finished with 76, tying for third.
Sarazen suffered on the 11th as well, as he hooked his tee shot into the creek
and made a triple-bogey seven en route to a 76. Dutra played steady on the
back side with birdies on 10 and 15, and despite back-to-back 3-putt bogeys on
the last two holes, was still able to eke out the win, his second in a major
championship (he also won the 1932 PGA
Ben Hogan's famous 1-iron to the 18th green in the 1950 U.S. Open is memorialized with a plaque in the fairway.
Dutra's winning score
was 13-over par and along with Oakmont in 1927, the second-highest score by a
winner in U.S. Open history (plus-17 in 1919 at Brae Burn Country Club). For
the week, only one player broke par and the scoring average was a whopping
The 1950 U.S. Open comes next. Just 16 months after colliding head-on with a
bus in Texas, Ben Hogan outlasted Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio in a playoff
to win the second of his four U.S. Open titles.
The most famous picture in golf is Hogan hitting his iconic 1-iron to the 18th
green at Merion during the final round to help secure his spot in the playoff
en route to the championship. This shot also was memorialized with a plaque in
the fairway. It should be noted that Hogan needed only to play the final four
holes in 1-over par, but missed a 30-inch par putt on 15 and bogeyed the 17th
from a bunker. His approach on 18 finished 40 feet from the cup and he safely
two-putted to finish regulation at 7-over par.
Fazio struggled in the playoff, but Hogan was only one clear of Mangrum as the
trio played the 16th. Ready to play his fourth shot, Mangrum noticed a bug on
his ball and picked it up in order to blow the insect off. However, prior to
1960 this was not permitted according to the rules of golf and therefore he
was assessed a two-
Instead of a flag, Merion has a wicker, bowl-shaped
ornament adorning each stick, a mystery that still has people guessing
on its origin.
shot penalty. Hogan then birdied the difficult 17th and won
by four over Mangrum and by six over Fazio. For the week, the players averaged
just over 76 shots per round. Of the 27 amateurs in the field, only one, P.J.
Boatwright, made the cut. Boatwright later became the executive director of
the USGA from 1969-80.
One of the most bizarre stories that has occurred in a U.S. Open took place
in 1950. A Philadelphia newspaper on the final day ran a story that Joe
Kirkwood Sr. was killed in an automobile accident several months prior to the
championship. A man approached Joe Jr. while he was playing his last group of
holes and expressed his sympathy. Since he had not seen his father, he thought
the worse and promptly bogeyed his final three holes. Following his round, he
learned that his father was well. Unfortunately for Kirkwood Jr., he missed
the playoff by two shots.
The 1971 U.S. Open held at Merion also ended in a playoff. This time around,
Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino squared off in an 18-hole duel. Amateur Jim
Simons, who led after 54 holes, needed birdie on the last to join the playoff,
but drove in the rough and failed to make three.
To ease the tension of the playoff, Trevino pulled out a rubber snake on the
first tee and threw it to Nicklaus. The "Merry Mex" then went on to shoot 68
to Nicklaus' 71 and win his second U.S. Open crown. Following his win, Trevino
was quoted as saying, "I love Merion, and I don't even know her last name."
It must be noted that both Trevino and Nicklaus had chances to win the
championship in regulation, but failed to do so. Trevino's eight-foot par putt
missed on the last hole when a man fell from a scoreboard and distracted him,
and Nicklaus, needing par on the last to force the playoff, missed a 15-foot
birdie putt on the famed final hole which would have won him the title.
The victory for Trevino was his second U.S. Open title and part of one of the
most amazing feats in golf, winning the Open Championships of the United
States, Great Britain and Canada, which he accomplished in 20 days.
The average score for the week was 74.23, with 59 rounds of par or better.
Simons carded the lowest round of the week, a third-round 65.
When Nicklaus led the United States to victory in the 1960 World Amateur Team
Championship at Merion Golf Club, his four-day score of 269 is often referred
to as one of the most dominant performances in golf. Although individual
scores are not recognized, Nicklaus carded rounds of 66-67-68-68 as the United
States won the event by 42 shots. Nicklaus' teammates were Deane Beman and
The fourth and final Open held at Merion came in 1981, as David Graham became
the first Australian to win the title. Trailing George Burns by three shots
heading into the final day, Graham carded a 3-under 67 for a 3-shot win over
Burns and Bill Rogers. Burns' third-round total of 203 set a new 54-hole mark
at the time. The third round also produced the lowest score of the week, a
sizzling 6-under 64 by Ben Crenshaw. In just
At eighteen, the player is faced with a long-iron or fairway-metal to an
elevated green which slopes from right-to-left.
his second year on Tour, Crenshaw
finished tied for 11th.
Graham and Burns were even through 13 holes, but Graham took the lead with
back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15 and then parred out for his second major
title, having captured the 1979 PGA Championship. Called one of the finest
finishing rounds in Open history, Graham hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation
(missing the three other greens by inches), missed only the first fairway
(although he birdied the hole) and took 33 putts on the day.
The first round of the 1981 U.S. Open proved to be a historic one, as Jim
Thorpe garnered the lead following the opening round, becoming the first black
ever to lead the Open. Thorpe opened with 66 and finished tied for 11th with
Crenshaw and Isao Aoki.
For the week, only five players finished under par and Graham's total of 273
was one shy of the mark set by Jack Nicklaus a year earlier. Graham and Rogers
were the only players in the field to shoot par or better in all four rounds.
In addition, the course played to a scoring average of 73.63 for the week, the
lowest of all four U.S. Opens held at Merion.
In 2005, the USGA returned to Merion for the 105th playing of the U.S.
Amateur. After two days of stroke play, only four players broke par, shooting
The match play portion of the event dwindled down to American Dillon Dougherty
and Edoardo Molinari of Italy. Following the morning 18 holes, Dougherty held
a 3-up advantage over Molinari; however, the Italian captured the first two
holes of the afternoon session and then squared the match on the fifth (23rd
hole). Molinari, who became the first Italian to compete in the U.S. Amateur,
birdied the seventh (25th) for the lead and then extended his position with a
birdie on the ninth (27th). Molinari closed out the match with a birdie on the
15th (33rd) to win, 4 & 3.
Over the final 15 holes, Molinari was an impressive 7-under par, using just 18
putts and one-putting 10 times in his last 15 holes. With the victory,
Molinari became the first European to win the Amateur since Harold Hilton of
England captured the event in 1911. Current PGA Tour stars who competed at the
2005 U.S. Amateur included Anthony Kim, Webb Simpson, Billy Horschel, Luke
List and Colt Knost.
Following the U.S. Amateur, the USGA awarded the East Course at Merion the
2013 U.S. Open Championship. "This probably will be the most precise golf
course we play a U.S. Open on," said Mike Davis, executive director of the
USGA. "It just requires precision off the teeing ground and precision into the
greens, with your approach shots."
Next up for Merion was the 2009 staging of the Walker Cup, as the United
States overwhelmed the team from Great Britain and Ireland, 16 1/2 to 9 1/2.
The Americans had an 8-4 lead heading into the final day and continued to play
strong golf. They took three points in the foursomes matches in the morning
and lost only one match.
In the singles, the U.S. squad displayed its great depth, although the first
match went to Gavin Dear of Great Britain and Ireland. He defeated Brian
Harman, 3 & 2, but the United States swept the next three matches. Rickie
Fowler capped off a perfect week with a 2 & 1 win over Matt Haines, then Peter
Uihlein defeated Stiggy Hodgson, 3 & 1, and Morgan Hoffmann pulled off a 1-up
victory over Wallace Booth. Fowler and Uihlein both went 4-0 as the United
States captured the Walker Cup for the third consecutive time. Long-time
Merion member Buddy Marucci captained the U.S. squad. Fowler was quite
impressed with the course. "It's a special, awesome place."
With the playing of the 2013 U.S. Open, Merion Golf Club will be hosting its
18th USGA Championship, the most by any club in history. In fact, Merion has
hosted a USGA event every decade since 1900. In addition, since the playing of
the U.S. Amateur, the course has been lengthened 150 yards and since it hosted
the 1981 U.S. Open, it's been stretched some 452 yards.
"Merion and its East Course, beyond the history, is on virtually everybody's
hit list of great golf courses and great architectural features," Davis said.
"Merion itself is a true blend of short and long."
Also unique to Merion are its flagsticks, or should I say, wicker poles.
Instead of a flag on each stick, Merion has a wicker, bowl-shaped ornament
adorning each pole, a mystery that still has people guessing on its origin.
Rumor has it that Wilson got the idea from the flagsticks at Sunningdale Golf
Club outside London. Estimated at $1,000 each, the wicker flag sticks are
collected every evening and put back out each morning.
Over the past several years, Fazio Golf's architect Tom Marzolf, along with Merion officials have lengthened the course by adding new tees and have adjusted fairway widths, not to mention soften some of the green contours to make the East Course U.S. Open worthy. Not that it wasn't already!
The second is a long, uphill, and fairly
straightaway three-shotter, which has recently been lengthened.
HOLE-BY-HOLE REVIEW: The course starts out innocently enough with a short
par-4 of just 350 yards. Let me re-phrase, there is nothing innocent at
Merion. Numerous bunkers dot both sides of the fairway, with trees guarding
left and right. A short-iron approach is left to a green that slopes from back
to front and right to left. Take advantage of the first because birdies will
not be easy to come by as play continues.
Players now cross over Ardmore Avenue to battle the next 11 holes. The par-5
second is long, uphill, and bends slightly to the left, as it has been
lengthened in recent years. Out of bounds looms along the right because the
fairway was shifted closer to the road, but two solid shots will set up a
wedge or less to a 35-yard-long green, flanked on both sides by four bunkers.
A cross bunker has been added short of the green, so the longest hitters will
now have to think about getting home in two. Birdie is possible, but make
sure you don't short side yourself.
The uphill, par-3 third, also lengthened in recent years, presents the first
really tough challenge at Merion, as there is little room for error and proper
club selection is key. Stretched to 256 yards, hitting the green will take
great skill, and even then there is no guarantee
The putting surface at the fourth slopes
severely from back-to-front and is guarded by five bunkers.
for par, as the contours of
the putting surface, which bend hard from left to right and back to front will
test even the most-skilled player. This hole ranks as the second longest par-3
in U.S. Open history. The teeing area for the third also can be used for the
The demand of the course continues when you reach holes four, five and six, as
these are the most difficult on the outward nine. At 628 yards and lengthened
with a new tee, the fourth is the longest and last par-5 on the course. Trees
guard the right side of the fairway halfway down and two huge sand pits guard
the left. The right-to-left tilting fairway will move balls quickly to the
left rough, making even your layup shot next to impossible. The big hitters
can think about getting home in two, as the hole plays downhill toward the
green, but the second shot will be blind to a well-guarded green, fronted by a
creek. The layup shot will be difficult due to a side hill or hanging lie and
should be placed well short of the creek, leaving a pitch of 80-100 yards. The
putting surface slopes severely from back-to-front and is guarded by five deep
bunkers. Nothing wrong with making par on the fourth.
Now it's time to tackle the fifth. A new tee, some 60-80 yards back, has been
added to this rugged par-4, stretching it to 504 yards. The hole bends to the
left and the fairway slopes hard from right to left toward the meandering
stream that encompasses the entire left side to the green. The fairway
slightly opens up on the right side just past a 20-yard bunker, leaving a long
iron or fairway metal approach to a very difficult green, which slopes hard
from right to left. The putting surface sits precariously close to the stream,
so play toward the right and let gravity takes its course. No
A successful tee shot at number seven will set up
a wedge to a very narrow, but deep (41-yards) green.
question, par is
a great score here. Bogey is not bad, either.
The third hole of this triumvirate is the increased sixth, which now reaches
487 yards. Out-of-bounds flanks the right side and bunkers left put an extreme
premium on accuracy off the tee. A medium-to-long iron will be required to
reach a green that is offset at an angle, making your approach shot quite
testing. Pin placement could be tricky, as three large bunkers surround the
putting surface, which features a false front. Miss long and your chance at
par is slim. Even par or better after these three holes, and you should
consider yourself fortunate.
Holes seven and eight are short par-4s and could enable yourself to get back
in the game - maybe. The seventh at 360 yards requires an iron or hybrid off
the elevated tee, as the fairway is quite tight. Out-of-bounds right, trees
and sand left must be avoided at all cost. A successful tee shot will set up a
wedge to a very narrow, but deep (41 yards) green. To make matters worse,
players must negotiate the two-tiered green, which slopes from back-to-front.
Just another one of the diabolical putting surfaces at Merion.
The eighth also
Fronting the green at nine are a pond and stream while the putting surface is guarded by five nasty bunkers.
an iron or hybrid off the tee, which must be placed
between large bunkers right and deep rough left. Just a flip wedge approach
awaits the player to one of the smallest greens on the course, which is just
21 paces in depth and slopes severely from back-to-front. Judge the downhill
approach correctly or a huge, fronting bunker awaits. A definite birdie
The outward nine concludes with a long, downhill par-3, which now after the
addition of a new teeing area stretches to 236 yards. This beauty has
alternate teeing grounds, both right and left of the eighth green. Fronting
the long kidney-shaped green are a pond and stream, while the putting surface
itself is guarded by five nasty bunkers. With a back-left pin, you might need
to play this hole as a par four! Just another one of the many signature holes
The back nine begins with a short dogleg left par-4, just 303 yards in length
from an elevated tee. Your tee shot starts from a chute of trees and requires
a big draw if you have any chance of driving the green. It's certainly
possible, but quite risky, as out-of-bounds is just a few feet from the green.
The difficulty here lies in and around the putting surface, as deep fescue,
rough and sand provide plenty of cover. In addition, the green is very small
and narrow, and slopes from back-to-front with a ridge in the center. Take
some spin off your approach, or you'll spin back off the green. Nothing worse
than par is acceptable on 10.
The 11th is
The back nine begins with a short dogleg left par-four, just 310 yards in length.
one of the most famous holes in golf, as this is the spot that
Bobby Jones clinched his "Grand Slam" in 1930. "I mean it's hard to think of a
moment in time in the United States that was more important than Bob Jones
winning the Grand Slam here at Merion," Davis said. "And back then, let us not
forget the U.S. Amateur was a more important championship than the U.S. Open."
The fairway has been shifted to the left, closer to a stream, so what was once
a straightaway, downhill par-4, now requires thought and extreme accuracy. A
fairway metal or long iron is the play to a narrow and blind fairway. The
approach shot will be difficult, as the green is guarded front, right and back
by Cobb's Creek and left by a deep bunker. From the rough, you'll have a
decision to make, as you'll be hard-pressed to keep your ball on the green.
The lima bean-shaped putting surface is just 23 yards deep and runs from back
to front. Par here and you'll think you made history.
Not so simple anymore, the 12th has been lengthened to over 400 yards and is
now a very difficult, dogleg-right par-4 that places a premium first on the
tee shot and then the approach. The tee area stands deep into a chute of trees
and requires a fade over a creek, some 220 yards away. Bunkers guard the left
side of the left-to-right tilting fairway, while deep woods cover the right.
Even with a successful tee shot, your approach will be uphill to a long,
narrow green, trapped heavily on both sides, with the most difficult of
bunkers on the right. The surface of the green slopes from left to right and
back to front, and although it has been tapered somewhat, it still is one of
The 11th is one of the most famous holes in golf, as this is the spot that Bobby Jones clinched his "Grand Slam."
the quickest on the course. There is virtually no chance of two-putting from
above the hole. Take par if you're lucky or bogey and move on.
Back across the road, players are greeted by the friendly and sometimes not-
so-friendly 13th, most likely your last chance at birdie. Just 115 yards, this
gem of a hole is fronted by a huge bunker with additional sand left and behind
the small 20-yard deep and sloping green. This minuscule putting surface will
yield plenty of birdies, but will certainly penalize the errant shot.
The final five holes at Merion are considered the best finishing holes in
championship golf and will test the best of players as they near the end of
their round. Many players, including 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, who
played here in the 2005 U.S. Amateur, have commented that this is the best
stretch of holes in golf. "The last five are going to be some of maybe the
hardest that we have ever had in the U.S. Open," Simpson said.
Starting off with the 14th, this dogleg-left, uphill par-4 has been stretched
to 464 yards. Not only does it require incredible accuracy off the tee, you'll
need power out a massive blast to have a reasonable chance of knocking on your
second shot. Thick, nasty rough lines the left side of the fairway, while deep
fairway bunkers protect the right. Certainly, a draw is the play here, but
with such a narrow landing area, this might be one of those, hit and hope
shots. With a successful tee shot, you'll be left with an uphill and semi-
blind approach to a putting surface guarded by sand right and short left and a
huge, shaved slope to the left. The putting surface features a hollow in the
center and slopes
The tiny green at the 13th will yield
plenty of birdies, but will certainly penalize the errant shot.
quickly from back-to-front. Par will be outstanding.
Just the opposite is the lengthened, but shorter 15th, a dogleg right of 411
yards. Requiring a fade, your tee shot must carry three large, angled bunkers
that cover the corner of the bend. The last trap, which was moved closer to
the fairway, necessitates a 300-yard pop, but beware of the out-of-bounds down
the left of the tight landing area. "Those players that work it right to left
and that can't do it the other way or at least aren't comfortable in
competition, that is probably the scariest tee shot at Merion," Davis said.
With a quality tee ball, players will be left with a short iron, played uphill
to another severely sloped putting surface. Sand protects par very nicely
here, while the green itself cants from back left to front right. If the pin
is tucked back and right, be thankful if you make bogey. If the pin is up
front, make sure you stay below the hole, even off the green, as you'll have a
better chance at birdie. According to Davis, the 15th green is "one of the
most challenging greens at Merion."
The first of the final three quarry holes, the 16th features a downhill tee
shot to a narrow fairway. Trees have been cleared on the right to open up the
hole visually, but sand still remains left and right of the fairway, which, if
you land into, will leave just a pitch out to the short grass. Your second
shot on this uphill 430-yarder will be with a mid-to-long iron to an
incredibly long, 43-yard green. What makes this hole so demanding is the
second shot, which must carry over a wide quarry of sand and scrub. Even if
you reach the putting surface, your ball must be on
What makes the 16th so demanding is the second shot that must carry over a wide quarry of
sand and scrub.
the right level, or three-
putting or worse is a cinch.
At 246 yards from the tips, the 17th is a brute, as the player is faced with
hitting metal over a quarry to a narrow, but deep, three-tiered green. Once
again, the putting surface is surrounded, this time by six bunkers and deep
rough! Let's not forget the valley of sin short of the green. This hole is all
carry. Not so easy when your hitting fairway metal or hybrid to a spec of a
green. Lee Trevino called the difficult 17th, "the shortest par-4 in Open
If you thought the 17th was tough, well, as they say, "You ain't seen nothing
yet." The closing hole is one of the finest finishers in the game of golf. Now
measuring 521 yards from the new back markers, the 18th is the third-longest
par-4 in U.S. Open history and features a blind, uphill tee shot that must
carry back over the quarry 240 yards to an undulating fairway. If your tee
shot reaches the fairway, it's very possible to have a mid-iron to the green.
If not, the player is faced with a long-iron or fairway metal to an elevated
and domed green which slopes from right to left. Any shot short will roll back
down the fairway and long will bound over the green. Some competitors play
short of the green in hopes of bouncing up on the green. Little chance that
will happen. This could be one of the hardest greens to hold in two,
especially when needing a par on to win your match, good luck! "I would
consider 18th the toughest finishing hole in all of the U.S. Opens," said
Davis. "It requires a great tee shot, a great second shot, and it's one of
Merion's most challenging greens."
At 246 yards from the
tips, the 17th is a brute, as the player is faced with hitting metal
quarry to a narrow, but deep green.
OVERALL: Prior to 2000, Merion's chances for hosting a U.S. Open again seemed
dim, but with the increased length (400-500 yards) and recently purchased land
nearby for corporate tents, the USGA awarded Merion with the 2013 Open.
This course has withstood the test of time and will undoubtedly host other
USGA events in the future. Pound-for-pound, Merion is one of the finest
courses in the world and matches up against all challengers. All you need to
know is that 1950 U.S. Open champion Ben Hogan called Merion, "The best
parkland golf course in the United States."
All aspects at Merion - layout, conditioning, clubhouse and service - are
second to none. Walking is a must at Merion, as no carts are allowed, which
gives you the opportunity to stroll these hallowed grounds where the immortal
players of the past and present have.
"This place is just magical," Davis said. "In so many ways, it's a historical,
it's an architectural treasure. From a golf standpoint, I think you could
easily say it's a landmark."
A word of advice ... listen to your caddie. They have been surveying the
course for years and know what they're doing, trust me. Your caddie will tell
you what to aim for and how to read the greens. Heck, he might even tell you
what club to use. Advise at Merion is a good thing.
At just under 7,000 yards from the tips, Merion is certainly not the longest
course in the world, but it definitely has plenty of bite, not to mention the
respect of the golf community. "I tell people all the time, it is my favorite
golf course in the world," Simpson said. "What it demands out of the players
is so different than most golf courses."
If you think you're going to post your best score ever ... good luck with
"The uniqueness of the sloped fairways, they're tight and the greens are
small," Simpson said. "There's a lot of intricacies with Merion that a player
will go around the first time and not see them all."
Not only are the greens small, as Simpson indicated, but the slope and speed
will keep you guessing. "What's interesting or, well, almost fascinating about
Merion's putting greens," Davis said, "is that in so many ways there's no
specific traits to these greens. They are wonderfully designed and I think for
that they're fascinating the more and more you get to study them, and
certainly how you approach them strategically is very important."
So, you have these tight fairways, thick rough, deep bunkers and toss in some
of the most diabolical greens around, and you still want to come back ... you
What a great mix of par-3s and par-4s and, of course, the two stellar par-5s.
The four one-shotters, although three are roughly the same in length, play
quite differently. From the slightly uphill third, to the downhill ninth over
water, the short 13th and the massive 17th, the par 3s at Merion are quite a
foursome. "I would contend three out of four of those par-3s would match up,
in fact surpass any of the par-3s of any other U.S. Open course we play," said
The par-4s are also quite interesting. Five are under 400 yards, four are over
460 and three are a little over 400. Now that's a variety. Davis continued,
"What's so neat about this architecture is that when Bob Jones was playing
here in 1930, those short holes were short. But what Merion's been able to do
is take the long holes and make them long for today's players."
When the round is complete, take time to sip a cocktail or two or grab a bowl
of Snapper Soup on the lawn adjacent to the first tee. It's worth the price of
In a word or two or three, Merion is phenomenal, awesome and grand. Those
sentiments are felt by the game's greatest, Jack Nicklaus, who said "acre for
acre, it may be the best test of golf in the world."