Rain continues to plague The Open at Merion. The golf course is special and continues to hold up to the best golfers in the world despite being softened by the heavy rains. This really does reinforce what many of us that love Merion thought, the design of the golf course is wonderful and will once again identify the best golfer in the world.
And Merion absolutely requires the golfer to show their shot making skill, course management, and mental toughness. There will be adversity and the ability of the golfer to face adversity intelligently is critical to success. Trouble abounds and there is OB everywhere. I suspect that there has never been a course that held a Major Championship that had more holes with out of bounds in play. The winner of this event may well be the golfer that saves a bogey from becoming a double or triple.
Not surprisingly, Matt Shaffer (Merion's Chief Grass Grower) and his staff have done a spectacular job of readying the golf course through these very trying conditions. Hey Mother Nature, enough already. If it ever stops raining the course will dry quickly, it drains very well and Matt will get those greens nice and firm. Maybe some day the USGA will allow tarping of the greens. We cover baseball infields, football fields, and soccer fields, why not greens on the golf course? If they had tarped the greens at Merion, what would the scores have been like today?
Some more trivia:
In 1981, after the Open, I moved into the 3rd floor of the clubhouse where they had some employee housing. And while we had our own bathroom, we also had direct access to the 3rd floor of the locker room. Many of you have heard of the marvelous showers at Merion and I can assure you that I used them often and that they are second only to the golf course at Merion.
On Thursday of the 1981 Open, I got a call from Richie Valentine to meet him at the small putting green, the one next to the golf shop. Upon arriving there, Richie introduced me to George Fazio, George put his glasses on and looked me up and down, shook my hand and turned around and walked away. Richie just shook his head and laughed. Years, later, when I told Tom Fazio about the introduction, he just roared.
The flagpole at Merion is one more reminder that Merion is a golf club. The pole was positioned to be an aiming point from both the 10th and 18th tee shots.