Thursday, June 13, 2013

Missing the Open, Rollers, Dune Grass

Wednesday is my favorite day to be at the Open. The  contestants are finalizing their strategies and as they practice you can see how they're thinking about playing. They practice the shots that they think they will have and are fine tuning things. I've always found that very interesting.

Merion is a golf course that you have to think your way around. So I think that the players that do well will be, obviously the ones staying out of the rough but ultimately, the ones that have the best course management. A certain type of mental toughness will be required of the players to handle repeated decisions on each tee of what club to hit to those narrow landing areas.

In 1981, Richie Valentine had me pick up 18 rollers from the Merion Cricket Club. The rollers were 4 feet wide and were not real heavy and were never used on the course. But they were placed at the players' exit at each green. Richie Valentine, Merion's Superintendent, wanted to "get into the player's heads." So every time a player walked off a green they had to pass by or almost step over a green's roller.

The Dune Grass in the bunkers at Merion that was refreshed prior to the 1981 US Open came from Atlantic City Country Club. Doug Fraser, Leo Fraser's* son, brought it up to Merion for us to fill in some thin spots in the bunkers. Valentine would pick the locations to plant the grass clumps by gathering up some small stones and sticks and throwing them up in the air. Wherever they landed we planted clumps. It was as random and as natural as you could get.

Thought of the day: Keep an eye out for the third hole. This may be one of the finest uphill par 3s in the world.

Unfortunately, I'm not at the Open on my favorite day because Dick Zokol and I are working on the renovation at the Presidio Golf Course.

The 10th hole at Presidio Golf Course

* Leo Fraser was the owner of Atlantic City Country Club and presided over the PGA when the organization split into the PGA Tour and the PGA of America.

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