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Merion to host 2013 US Open

During the technology boom, Merion Golf Club became a symbol of how distance was making some classic courses obsolete. The USGA never bought into that idea.

Merion was awarded the 2013 U.S. Open on Wednesday, a plan that has been in the works for the last couple of years and was finalized when none of the young bashers could tame the Ardmore, Pa., course last year during the qualifying for the U.S. Amateur.

It will be the fifth U.S. Open at Merion, but the first since David Graham won in 1981.

The course, designed by Hugh Wilson and opened in 1912, has been lengthened by about 400 yards as it courted another U.S. Open, and the closing five holes are daunting.

"There was once a commercial -- "It's not your father's Oldsmobile" -- and in some ways, I'd say it's the same for Merion," USGA executive director David Fay said. "They've always had a number of great holes where you weren't using your driver off the tee. But they've been able to make their long, stout holes ... really long. They have adapted well to the changing nature of the game."

Merion is best known for the 1930 U.S. Amateur, where Bobby Jones completed his career Grand Slam; and for the 1950 U.S. Open, when Ben Hogan struck that famous pose with a 1-iron from the 18th fairway.

With today's equipment, some have said Hogan would be hitting a pitching wedge. But that 1-iron approach was his 36th hole of the final round that year, and he was so tired that he couldn't get his driver down the hill. Earlier that day, Hogan hit 6-iron into the 18th.

Along with the course, the other challenge was finding space for the bells and whistles that now accompany a U.S. Open.

Fay and USGA president Walter Driver said the club was creative in finding room, and got great cooperation from homes along the fairways have offered their yards, along with nearby Haverford College.

Driver said he expects about 30,000 fans can attend Merion; that's up from the 20,000 estimate from Fay two years ago.

"A lot of trees have been removed, and that adds the gallery component," Fay said. "We'll move a putting green to have more room for crowd movement around the clubhouse."

June 15, 2006

 




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