As you sit back and watch the world’s greatest golfers try to negotiate The Olympic Club this weekend at the U.S. Open, just remember this little thought: Next year, they’re here.
Fifty-two weeks from now, golf fans all over the world will be tuning in to see most of those same players trying to work their magic at Merion Golf Club. The undersized gem has hosted more USGA championships than any other club in the country and will be the setting for the U.S. Open for the first time in 32 years.
The game has grown by leaps and bounds since David Graham won at Merion in 1981, and many felt the Ardmore course would be unable to handle the players and the crowds.
The United States Golf Association, after repeated visits to the area and testing its viability during the 2005 U.S. Amateur, decided it was worth a shot to bring the Open back to such hallowed ground.After all, this is where Bobby Jones won the Grand Slam back in 1930, on the 11th green. One of the most famous pictures in all of sports, Ben Hogan’s 1-iron approach to the 18th green in 1950, took place at Merion.
Next year’s Open will be the 19th national championship hosted by Merion. Most recently, the course held the 2009 Walker Cup. This will be Merion’s fifth U.S. Open, held there previously in 1934, 1950, 1971 and 1981.
Back in 1981, Merion measured 6,528 yards, the shortest Open course since World War II. Last year, for example, Congressional CC had almost a thousand yards on Merion, coming in at 7,514 yards. Olympic is a 7,170-yard, par-70 this week.
By next June, Merion, which has undergone extensive renovations over the past decade, will be closer to 6,900 yards and a par-70, yet still one of the shortest tests.
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