This year the US Open was held at the Merion Golf Club’s East Course for the first time since 1980. The USGA spent weeks building all the grandstands, sponsors tents and other needed infrastructure for the course. Merion Golf Club is relatively tiny, so squeezing in all the equipment plus 25,000 fans (which was a significantly lower capacity than other recent courses) was a major challenge.
I drive by Merion every morning on the way to work, so it was fascinating to watch the landscape evolve as the USGA worked feverishly to make sure the course was prepared. While rain threatened some major trouble, the course stood up extremely well. Torrential rain during the practice rounds before the US Open began had many predicting a low-scoring event. In the end, Justin Rose won his first major and finished 1-over for the tournament.
Concerns ran so high that there was a plan ready to be executed to play two holes on the West Course if the two lowest holes on the East Course were under water. Numbers 11 (one of golf’s most famous hole – Bobby Jones secured his Grand Slam on Merion’s 11th) and 12 are both bisected by Cobb’s Creek. When I used to caddy at Merion, I saw the creek overflow to the point where only a few square feet of 11’s green was visible. That meant multiple bunkers around the green and a sizable chunk of the fairway were completely under water. Fortunately, Merion was spared – though the effort from the USGA and Merion’s grounds crew was monumental.
Check out some pictures by clicking on the picture below. All of the pictures were taken on the weekend preceding the US Open. The East course was open to the public for four days (Thursday through Sunday) prior to the practice rounds. When I went the weather was picture perfect and everything was set up flawlessly. While we were not allowed onto the actual holes, the roads around Merion run close enough that you can literally walk up to the edge of the fairway on many holes.