ARDMORE, Pa. – Baseball has Wrigley Field, football has Lambeau Field and now golf has Merion, exiled from the U.S. Open rotation for three decades but proving that it is still up to the challenge.
Thanks to timeless architecture and a retro set up by the USGA, Merion delivered the first over-par champion since 2007 on a golf course that measured well under 7,000 yards.
Although there were the occasional complaints from players – it wouldn’t be an Open without a little discord – the East Course was largely lauded as a tough but fair test.
All of which raises the question, will this be Merion’s swansong or second act?
“I’m sure it will come back,” said Tiger Woods, who tied for 32nd with his highest 72-hole total (13 over) ever at a U.S. Open. “Obviously there are some vendors that are going to make more money with hospitality and that nature. But I think that overall as a golf course, yes, it can be played.”
Logistically, the quirky and confined course was a challenge and forced USGA officials to limit ticket sales to 25,000 per day, well below the gate at a normal Open, and organizers needed to be creative – using yards from residents adjacent the course for hospitality and parking – to pull it off.
The next open date for the U.S. Open is 2021 and USGA executive director Mike Davis was asked if he thought the national championship, which was last played on the East Course in 1981, could return to Merion?
“I would say, I mean early reviews from our side would be absolutely,” Davis told Golf Channel’s Morning Drive crew on Monday.