If you are anything like me your memories of Masters Sunday are beginning to dwindle. Whilst watching Adam Scott bring home Australia’s first green jacket was inspiring, you’re ready for another major. Fear not, the year’s second major is here.
Defending champion Webb Simpson, and the rest of the world’s best players, are in the Philadelphia area at Merion GC to do battle on one America’s most storied and testing courses.
To help you get excited for the 2013 US Open, here are 18 facts about Merion GC that will prep you on all there is to know.
1) Merion GC is actually home to two courses: the East and West. The famed East Course is the one used for USGA events.
2) Merion’s East course has hosted more USGA events than any other course (18), most recently the 2005 US Amateur won by European Tour player, Edoardo Molinari.
3) The East course was designed by Scot, Hugh Wilson, and his Merion Men in 1912.
4) Wilson is credited with the most iconic symbol of Merion GC; the famous wicker basket pins. It is said he based the idea on shepherds he saw in England that used staffs with wicker baskets on them to herd their sheep.
5) The wicker basket pins are still used today and will be used for the US Open. Any player who wins a USGA event at Merion receives a wicker basket top.
6) Merion’s East course is built on just 126 acres, a small area for a championship course. The area which wouldn’t fit 100 football fields was expanded after the 1981 US Open, acquiring added land to expand the course and facilities.
7) Despite the newly acquired land, Merion’s East course measures just 6,846 yards, making it one of the shortest US Open layouts in recent years.
8) Players tee off on the first hole just inches from members and spectators sitting in and around the clubhouse.
9) Bobby Jones famously won the US Amateur at Merion in 1930, following wins at the 1930 British Amateur, Open Championship and US Open. His win prompted American journalist, O.B. Keeler, to describe the feat as the “Grand Slam”. The name for winning all the golf majors in a year has stuck ever since.
10) Jones has a lot of history at Merion. He played his first major as a 14-year old at the 1916 US Amateur (no longer considered a major). He also won his first of five US Amateur titles at Merion eight years later.
11) Twenty years later Ben Hogan came to Merion for the 1950 US Open after a car accident that nearly killed him. On the 72nd hole, Hogan stuck a 1-iron to the green. The image of the shot remains one of the most famed pictures in golf history.
Hogan later went on to win the event in an 18-hole playoff.
12) The last major championship held at Merion was the 1981 US Open, won by New Zealand’s David Graham who shot a seven under par total of 273. Graham won $55,000, equal to a 28th place finish at this year’s Open. The winner will bank $1,260,000.
13) After losing an 18-hole playoff to Lee Trevino in the 1971 US Open, Jack Nicklaus described the East course as:
“Acre for acre, maybe the best test of golf in the world.”
14) Merion Golf Club is both a National Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.
15) Three international team competitions have taken place at Merion: 1954 Curtis Cup, 1960 Eisenhower Trophy and the 2009 Walker Cup. All were won by the United States.
16) Merion is home to a proud caddie program. With no yardage markers on the course, trained caddies are expected to tell players the exact yardage on any shot from memory.
17) Players competing at this year’s US Open will face three par-3s measuring more than 230 yards: 3rd hole 256 yards, 9th hole 236 yards and the 17th at 246 yards.
18) The longest hole on the course is the 628-yard 4th hole. The shortest? 115 yard 13th.