Merion The Great

Frankly, we would like to congratulate Justin Rose, a great golfer and  deserving US Open champion.

The other real winner is the game. The guardians of our game have made a courageous move, turning the corner, and have proven that we need to adopt a different mind set about distance.

The driver is no longer sacrosanct, and should now take its rightful place in the bag as just another club, not the most important club in the bag. We have for too long modified course designs and tournament setup, to cope with the few who have one particular skill – i.e. the ability to drive the ball a long way —  we can now sit back and recognize that we do not have to use a driver on every par-4 and par-5. Merion and the USGA have clearly made this point.

We now acknowledge that the measure of a good golfer is not only in his/her ability to drive the ball a long way. Driving the ball long and straight is definitely a skill required of a champion but not the only skill. We have for too many years played into the hands of the long hitter by lengthening championship courses. The trickle down effect has been that some great old clubs have felt the need to lengthen their courses, removing them from the category of enjoyment to tiresome for the vast majority of the members.

Thank goodness this is – I hope – about to change. This is why the game is the real winner along with Justin Rose at Merion. We have now allowed a larger sampling of good golfers to exhibit many other skills and have the opportunity to win.

A 6,885 -yard course – as it was set up for Sunday — proved, without doubt, that patience and a variety of good shots other than long drives is what it takes to win.

Irrespective of how far some golfers can drive the ball we DO NOT need to continue to lengthen golf courses for championships. We now need to allow those in charge of course setup to exhibit all of their setup “skills”, rather than the brut-force approach of just moving the tees back.

Congratulations to the USGA for a great championship but more so, for a very important change in mindset.

I say that 95% of the existing courses present the appropriate challenges for 99% of the golfing population – except those courses which have mistakenly  been lengthened beyond reason.


What do you think? Share your thoughts by replying below

21 thoughts on “Merion The Great

  1. I agree with Conrad. The USGA did nothing but prove there should be 2 sets of rules, 1 FOR AMs and 1 for pros. There is no way the members play that course under those conditions or from those tees, so if they are changing the course for the pros why not 2 sets of rules.

  2. Why was the putting so poor at Merion other than no Frogs? I never saw so many short pretty straight putts missed by so many. I haven’t seen the stats, so maybe I’m wrong, but that’s my perception.

  3. From Australia:
    Merion was great and you are dead right in that the easiest way to improve the rating of a course is buy the paddock next door and shift the tees there. Kingston Heath , Royal Melbourne, Metropolitan are all courses here in Victoria where Club members can play (and enjoy) yet leave the driver in the bag. My course Buninyong is only 5900m (but hilly) and the premium is on the short game (without being tricked up ridiculous) , hence my handicap is going out because that is my weakness. But…. you have got to love the course. The British Open is a tournament of strategy not brute strength. Thanks for the article

  4. I suggest we all must ask the question? Why do I PLAY the game? For one I hate looking in the rough for balls-isn’t much fun is it? Ego adjustment sometimes never happens!

  5. I turned off the US Open on Sunday. I want the pros to show me how to make birdies, eagles and holes-in-ones. I know how to make doubles, triples and quads. It was boring golf. Do the Merion members play the course the way it was set up for the Open? I think not. Please forward copies of these comments to Mike Davis. I would like to see his response.

    • As a professional golfer myself I have to disagree with your statement. I think anybody who knows the game really well fully appreciates the strength of mind, determination, shot making abilities and the total control of your inner self which Justin displayed to win his first Major championship. It was compelling watching and if you hadn’t have turned off your TV on Sunday you would have seen the birdies, eagles and hole-in-ones which you desire to see. It was a Major Championship, no one said it should be easy, and I can assure you none of the pro’s expected it to be. On the last day anyone in the top 10 could have won. My compliments go to the USGA for not being afraid to set up a golf course to test the very best players in the world. Now I look forward to the British Open, the R&A are also not afraid to make the golf course a stern test. But unlike other tournaments they are what they claim to be. -Open Major tournaments. Anyone can enter, it is not a closed shop, and if you don’t want to play nobody makes you. This is why there are so many entries world wide. These tournaments are special, unique and well loved by millions. Nobody also says you must turn on your TV and watch it!

  6. I agree that the set-up allowed for a greater use of a variety of clubs in the bag. It was also good to see a variety of lengths of par 3s and 4s for a change.Two points of disagreement with the USGA’s set-up; 1) I think that the length and density of the rough does greatly influence the need to put the ball in play, but it also can lead to serious injuries and it would slow the pace of play to a snail’s pace in the real world. 2) I find it interesting to watch the USGA’s set up of the course for the USGA Open Championship to be antithetical to everything we have heard in recent weeks and years regarding the need to improve the pace of play at all levels of play and for the need to grow the game. There are too many factors to discuss here as to the many causes of fewer people playing the game, but here is a short list…1) Peoples’ life-styles have changed drastically from the 1960s when I began playing the game. 2) Play is too slow. 3) Not enough parents have or take the time to teach the game to their children and other young people. 4) Not enough people learn the game by watching and playing with better players who could teach them to respect the course and other players. 5) Access to affordable courses is rare for too many people. 6) The expectation and associated cost of maintaining “tournament conditions” has made the game very expensive. 7) It takes a lot of time to learn and to improve at golf.

    • Play IS too slow.
      And one of the main reasons is that in order to gain access to the course, they expect me to spend my time watching three other people play.
      The USGA, for all of its recent blather, has said nothing about encouraging courses to adopt a “twosomes only” policy in certain dayparts and on a trial basis.
      I guess this solution is too obvious for “The Guardians Of The Game” (sounds like a Marvel comic book) to consider.
      Which is why I have no hope for ANYTHING in which they are involved.

  7. It’s not the overall length of the course that determines the level of difficulty – it’s the characteristics of the holes. Alignment, evenness of terrain, bunkering, water hazards, trees, rough, out-of-bounds are things that contribute to the difficulty of a hole as well as length. Merion had some of these on every hole – even the little par 3 that Phil bogeyed. Two of the par 3s were longer than most par 3s on newer PGA Tour stops; the 18th is a long par 4. Thus, it was a true test of overall skill; its relative shortness compared to newer courses did not favour anyone.

  8. Number 3 at Merion was a joke. A 266 yard par 3 is not a test of skill. At 266 yards, luck was the key to this hole, not skill. This was something that should be at the county fair-pay a $1.00, hit the green, win a teddy bear. This set up by the USGA doesn’t identify the best golfer in the world, it identifies the luckiest. Pitiful for a “major”. Tros13

    • Let’s look at facts. Number 3’s worst score was bogey on Sunday. There were more pars than bogey and there was some birds also. Lets now move to number 13..106 yards..whoops Phil boyeys saturday and sunday. hummm.

  9. I somewhat object to your us of “guardians of the game”. I find that these “guariains” are not guardians at all, but rather mercenaries defending the despots in protecting their own selfish interests..

  10. Merion displayed what we all really believe–the game of golf is played in the mind, not on the course. Those players who did well used course management rather than brute force; those who tried to bash their way through missed the cut or ballooned their cards. The future of the game is not down the expressway of bomb and gouge, but along the winding two lane blacktop of 4-iron tee balls and smart bump and run chips. Well done, Merion.

  11. Amen to that Frank, we have all known for many years that the rough is the master ! For many years it has been cut down to one inch ,” they ” even changed the grooves , that boggled my mind , as I do not know one member at the club that got excess spin from the fairway never mind the rough .
    Hopefully the great old courses will come back to life.


  12. Tricked up embarassment by the USGA, pin placements 5-7 feet off the corners, par 3’s of ridiculous lengths, playing from divot filled areas, because most of the players had no option but to lay up to these areas. they were so lucky that it rained the way it did, if the course would have played hard and fast, no one would have hit a fairway, no one could have come anywhere close to some of those pins, They did everything to try to convince everyone that this course still is a major championship venue,and the commentating from NBC, Golf Channel. etc. was so closed minded about the greatness of this course, it was pathetic, Merion was great in its day, so was Yankee Stadium, the Chicago Stadium etc., time moves on, scale back the ball for professional events, not for the general playing public, can’t wait to see how the USGA will turn Pinehurst into some shaved, pitch and putt travesty. another US Open ruined by the USGA……..

    • Could not have said it better myself.
      Glen Nager was saying how this sort of course setup was only for the best players in the world and not for everyone.
      That’s Bifurcation, is it not?
      The ball goes so far that it’s possible to play 420 yard Par 4s with a 4 iron and an 8 iron (and that’s not from spring like effect, Frank).
      Who can’t hit a 4 iron in the fairway? Well, some couldn’t which was even more pathetic.
      The professional game has become unwatchable, and irrelevant.

    • Please. Phil lost to Phil. Look at his scorecards over the four days. Bogeys on a 115 yard par 3? Double bogey on Sunday on a par 4. This all while Jason Dufner was shooting 67 with a triple bogey…..Phils T shot on 18 on Sunday was horrible. Into the rough while Rose hit it long and straight. I like Phil a lot but he just wasn’t up to the challenge.

      • Who said anything about Phil?
        Better training methods and better nutrition apply to athletes in all sports, and yet a basketball rim is still 10 feet (and they haven’t had to grease the floor). A football field is still 100 yards (and they haven’t had to change it to quicksand or put in an 8 foot glass ceiling over the field to prevent 90 yard TD bombs) and they haven’t had to build baseball stadiums where it’s 550 to straightaway center.
        But they’ve had to do the equivalents of all of these things in professional golf.
        And why?
        The ball.

    • Frank, being I am on the downward slide towards 70 it is about time again that the pros have to go back to playing golf instead of bomb and gouge. Although I still am able to manage 6200 yds, I prefer 6000 yds. My home course is 5800 from the tips but people find out real quick that the driver can get you in big trouble if you can’t control it or you make a mistake with it. I know a lot of amatuers like a course they can rare back and hit without consequence, but for me I like a challenge.

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