This weekend the Walker Cup (amateur version of the Ryder Cup) comes to the Philly area and will be played at Merion. Bobby Jones completed his grand slam here and, both Hogan (recovering from his accident) and Trevino (threw the plastic snake at Nicklaus) won US Open's. Merion, along with Pine Valley, is the most famous, historic course in our area, but, it is on a tiny parcel of land and is very short by today's standards. Tiny, fast greens plus rough are it's only protection from very low scores. A public highway runs through the middle of it and many holes are easily seen from bordering roads.There is no room to expand as it's in some of the priciest land in the area, Philly's Main Line. It was stretched out a little for the last Amateur. For that event, a portion of the practice putting green was converted to a Tee Box to add some yards to one hole. There is a famous picture of Ben Hogan hitting a two iron to the 18th green to win his Open there. There's a marker in the fairway showing the spot. Today, long hitters drive 40 yards past the marker and hit 7 irons into the green.
I was last there during the US Amateur several years ago, and, I'm still baffeled that the US Open is scheduled to return there in a few years. Frankly, I believe Merion's length is not suited to the highest level of golf played today. Also, there's precious little room for the thousands of people who visit the Open. As a venue for the Walker Cup, we'll see how the best amateurs handle it. Without the length of modern courses, the European team may have a small advantage against long driving Americians. The American Captain, Buddy Marucchi (He lost to Tiger in a US Amateur final) is a Merion member so his coaching should help.
So, check it out on TV next weekend.