Living History

By Randall MellSeptember 12, 2009, 1:23 am

USGAARDMORE, Pa. – Golf’s best like to play with ghosts.

It’s no different today.

Ask two-time Oklahoma State All-America selection Rickie Fowler.

In Walker Cup practice with fellow Americans Adam Mitchell and Nathan Smith at Merion Golf Club, the trio couldn’t resist.

Peter Uihlein
U.S. team member Peter Uihlein hits an approach on the 18th Friday. (Getty Images)
They dropped their balls on the East Course’s 18th fairway near the plaque that commemorates the famed 1-iron shot Ben Hogan played into the 72nd hole when he won the 1950 U.S. Open. It’s a shot that was immortalized by photographer Hy Peskin, who captured Hogan’s perfect follow through from behind.

The 1-iron got Hogan into a playoff with Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio that would win Hogan more than a trophy. Just 16 months after his car collided head-on with a Greyhound Bus, Hogan limped to that U.S. Open title, changing the way golf fans mostly viewed this cold and aloof competitor.

Hogan’s memory is so inescapable at Merion that Fowler, Mitchell and Smith couldn’t resist trying to duplicate Hogan’s shot.

“Took a picture with the background the same as Hogan,” Fowler said.

Except Fowler hit 4-iron.

The Walker Cup begins Saturday at Merion Golf Club, where the young members of the American and Great Britain & Ireland teams are relishing gallivanting among the game’s great ghosts. The East Course, created by Hugh Wilson, a club member, was opened in September of 1912.

Merion’s full of great memories.

“It’s fabulous coming back here,” said Mike Davis, the U.S. Golf Association’s senior director of rules and competition. “You almost get tingles coming, the place reeks with such history.”

The history here can feel more like mythology with Merion’s rich past remembered mostly in grainy, black-and-white images.

Though Merion has been host to 17 USGA championships, more than any other club, its mostly ancient history to today’s young players.

Smith is the only player in this week’s Walker Cup who was alive the last time a U.S. Open was played at Merion. He was 3 years old.

This venerable course is where Bobby Jones played his first and last U.S. Amateur. He completed the Grand Slam here, defeating Eugene Homans, 8 and 7, to win the U.S. Amateur in 1930. A plaque commemorating Jones’ victory can be found at the 11th hole, where he clinched that match. On the last Friday of every September, Merion’s membership honors the victory in a black-tie affair, marching behind a bag piper out to the 11th tee, where the club president offers up a toast.

“Probably one of my favorite holes here,” Fowler said.

Merion’s also where Lee Trevino threw that rubber snake at Jack Nicklaus before beating the Golden Bear in an 18-hole U.S. Open playoff in 1971.

This year’s Walker Cuppers are part of Merion’s resurgence as a championship venue.

Time seemed to have passed Merion by after David Graham won the ’81 U.S. Open. The ’89 U.S. Amateur title won by Chris Patton looked like it was going to be the club’s last hurrah. The East Course appeared too short for the modern game, not suitable for meaningful lengthening within its smallish boundaries. The U.S. Open also seemed to have outgrown the venue logistically. The property couldn’t hold enough spectators to suit the championship’s growing needs, or enough hospitality tents, but this weekend’s Walker Cup is proving to be part of Merion’s big comeback.

After successfully hosting the 2005 U.S. Amateur, Merion was awarded the 2013 U.S. Open.

Merion membership and the USGA did some hard work making sure the championship test was more than strong enough, and that property on the club’s West Course could be used to meet U.S. Open hospitality and other needs. Attendance may be limited when the U.S. Open is played here, but the possibilities no longer are. The demanding exactness of Merion’s East Course layout, its rough and diabolical greens still make it a supreme test.

“Merion has always been the poster child for what equipment’s done to championship courses,” Davis said. “To be able to bring the Open back here, it’s one of the most exciting things that’s happened in the 20 years I’ve been with the USGA.”

Today’s Walker Cup competitors hope to add to the club’s great memories this week.

“Knowing some of the history here just makes it even more special,” GB&I’s Wallace Booth said.
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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Cart on the green


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Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


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Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

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Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

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Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


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Pros comment on the president

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm