ARDMORE, Pa. – Despite more than 5 inches of rain that have deluged Merion Golf Club since Friday, USGA executive director Mike Davis insisted there is no “doomsday scenario” at this week’s U.S. Open.
“We don't anticipate that happening to the point where we're not going to be able to get the U.S. Open in or we're going to have to go to some holes on the West Course,” Davis said Monday afternoon. “It is maybe the best-draining golf course I have ever seen. If you walk this course, you know there's hardly any flat lies at Merion. Its surface drains beautifully.”
The most worrisome part of the course is the 11th green, which is Merion’s lowest point. But officials maintained that they are optimistic it will get better before it gets worse.
“No. 11 is the lowest point on the golf course,” said Matt Shaffer, director of golf operations at Merion. “It's where two creeks come together. But we've had two major rain events and both of which the green has managed to stay above water, which is a good thing.”
“When it rains hard, you get these streams moving quickly and that's what fills up and ultimately in some cases causes you to go over the 11th green,” Davis added. “But we got 3 1/2 inches over roughly 24 hours and the course handled it beautifully, because it really does surface-drain well.”
Davis also mentioned that playing lift, clean and place won’t be an option, though obviously free drops will be allowed from any casual water.
“As far as if it is a wet fairway, that would be one of the things we would take into consideration,” he said. “We'd say, ‘Is the course playable? Or is it unplayable? We always look at the greens first.
“Just because there's areas of casual water down on 11 fairway, as long as a player can take relief from that casual water and not go somewhere too far away, that's something we take into consideration. How much is a bunker completely flooded would be another one. Just because they're wet or there is standing water that wouldn't preclude us from playing golf.”
As far as affecting course setup, Davis maintained that the moisture on the greens would simply create hole locations in the highest areas.
“There would be an example on Thursday where we would say 'let's look at all 18-hole locations, make sure to the extent possible we've got those in higher locations so we don't get puddling right around the hole,'” he said. “But beyond that, there's not a whole lot we would do. We would just let the course play the way it's going to play.”