Merion Golf Club
|Location||Haverford Township, Delaware County, near Ardmore, Pennsylvania, USA|
|Established||1912 - East Course
1914 - West Course
|Website||Merion Golf Club|
|Designed by||Hugh Irvine Wilson|
|Length||6,846 yards (6,260 m)|
|Slope rating||149 |
|Designed by||Hugh Irvine Wilson|
|Length||5,989 yards (5,476 m)|
|Slope rating||122 |
Merion Golf Club, East and West Courses
|Architect:||Hugh Irvine Wilson|
|Architectural style:||Colonial Revival|
|Added to NRHP:||December 21, 1989|
|Designated NHLD:||April 27, 1992|
Merion Golf Club is a private golf club located in Haverford Township, Pennsylvania, 11 miles (18 km) west of Philadelphia. The club has two courses: the East Course, and the West Course. The East Course has been consistently rated by Golf Digest among America's greatest golf courses, and will host its fifth U.S. Open in 2013.
The Merion Golf Club dates from 1896, when members of the Merion Cricket Club (founded in 1865) opened a golf course in Haverford, Pennsylvania. In 1910, the membership decided to build a new course and chose 32-year-old club member Hugh Wilson, a Scottish immigrant and fine player, to design it. Merion East opened in September 1912, and the original course was closed. The West Course, also designed by Wilson, opened in May 1914. The Merion Golf Club did not officially separate from the Merion Cricket Club until 1941.
Hugh Wilson had never designed a golf course, so he went on a seven-month trip to Scotland and England to study British courses. Several features of Merion East are derived from famous British courses, not the least of which are Merion's distinctive Scottish-style bunkers, which are now known as the "white faces of Merion" (named by top amateur player Chick Evans. Wilson's layout covers only 126 acres (0.51 km2) of land, a very small area for a golf course. It was ranked seventh in Golf Digest's "America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses" in 2005, and Jack Nicklaus has said of Merion East, "Acre for acre, it may be the best test of golf in the world."
Merion has held 18 United States Golf Association (USGA) championship tournaments, more than any other course. The first two, the 1904 and 1909 U.S. Women's Amateurs, were held at the original Haverford course. The first USGA men's tournament held at the East Course was the 1916 U.S. Amateur, won by Chick Evans. This was also the first time Bobby Jones appeared in a national championship; he was 14 years old. Jones would win his first U.S. Amateur in 1924, also held at Merion.
In 1930, the U.S. Amateur returned to Merion in late September. Earlier that year, Bobby Jones had won the British Amateur, British Open, and U.S. Open, so anticipation was high to see if he could complete the sweep of all four major championships of the time, the "impregnable quadrilateral." Jones won the the medal in the stroke play qualifier and cruised through the first four rounds of match play, to the final 36-hole match against Eugene Homans on Saturday. A gallery of 9,000 was on hand for the start of the match; this swelled to 18,000 by the afternoon round, forcing the competitors to be escorted to the tees and greens. After the morning round, Jones was comfortably ahead by seven holes, and when both players parred the 11th hole Jones had an 8 & 7 victory (8 holes ahead with seven to play). Searching for words to describe the unprecedented feat, Atlanta newsman O.B. Keeler used the term "Grand Slam", which has stuck ever since. Seven weeks after the tournament, Bobby Jones retired from competitive golf at age 28.
Merion's 1950 U.S. Open was the site of Ben Hogan's comeback, 16 months after a head-on collision with a bus which shattered his pelvis and nearly killed him. On the 72nd hole (and 36th of the day), in extreme pain and facing a shot of over 200 yards (180 m) into the wind, Hogan needed a par to force a playoff, as he had just bogeyed the long par-3 17th. From the fairway, Hogan used a 1-iron to hit a superb shot which stopped on the distant green well within two-putt range, and made his par. Hogan then defeated Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio in an 18-hole playoff on Sunday to win the tournament. Hy Peskin's photograph of Hogan's 1-iron shot, taken from behind during Hogan's follow-through, is among the most famous pictures in golf. [Editor's note: this article states the consensus of golf experts and historians that Hogan used a 1-iron. The statement is confirmed by many sources, including Hogan himself in later letters and interviews. There has been some controversy through the years, as some sources - including Hogan's own book, Five Lessons - state that he used a 2-iron for the shot.] Lost for over three decades, the club resurfaced in the early 1980s, and now resides in the USGA Museum.
Following David Graham's win at the U.S. Open at Merion in 1981, it was felt by many that the relatively short course of about 6,500 yards (5,940 m), small course area of 111 acres (45 ha) (which limits gallery size), and lack of grounds to hold corporate tents would preclude Merion from holding a major again. However, following some land acquisition nearby and lengthening of the East Course to nearly 7,000 yards (6,400 m), many of these concerns appeared to be addressed. After successfully hosting the 2005 U.S. Amateur, the USGA awarded the 2013 U.S. Open to Merion.
Merion Golf Club was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1992.
Wicker baskets 
On the East Course, all pins are topped with wicker baskets instead of the usual flags. As one story goes, when Hugh Wilson was in England studying their golf courses, he happened upon local sheep herders and their flocks. These shepherds held staffs that they used for herding, and the staffs all had wicker baskets at the top. In those baskets, they kept their lunch for the day so that no animals could get into it. Wilson decided to use the idea at Merion, though the exact origin has never been fully verified. One effect is that the baskets are visible no matter which way the wind is blowing – but they do not give the golfer any indication of wind direction at the green. They have been used since at least 1916, and are featured in the club's logo.
Up until around 1980, the wicker baskets were made on site by a member of the grounds crew staff by the name of Guerrio D'Achille. Since then, a woman, whose name and location are purposely kept anonymous, creates the current baskets. Anyone who wins a USGA event at Merion receives a wicker basket top. Wickers are destroyed if the wicker baskets are broken. The golf course assistant superintendents collect the wickers every night, so they will not be stolen. The wicker baskets will be used in the 2013 U.S. Open.
Tournaments held at Merion 
Major championships 
|1934||U.S. Open||Olin Dutra||1,000|
|1950||U.S. Open||Ben Hogan ^||4,000|
|1971||U.S. Open||Lee Trevino ^||30,000|
|1981||U.S. Open||David Graham||55,000|
|2013||U.S. Open||June 13-16|
^ 18 hole playoffs: 1950, 1971
Amateur championships 
|1904||U.S. Women's Amateur||Georgianna Bishop|
|1909||U.S. Women's Amateur||Dorothy Campbell|
|1916||U.S. Amateur||Chick Evans|
|1924||U.S. Amateur||Bobby Jones|
|1926||U.S. Women's Amateur||Helen Stetson|
|1930||U.S. Amateur||Bobby Jones|
|1949||U.S. Women's Amateur||Dorothy Porter|
|1966||U.S. Amateur||Gary Cowan|
|1989||U.S. Amateur||Chris Patton|
|1998||U.S. Girls' Junior||Leigh Anne Hardin|
|2005||U.S. Amateur||Edoardo Molinari|
- East Course opened in 1912, first used in 1916 U.S. Amateur
International team competitions 
|1954||Curtis Cup||United States|
|1960||Eisenhower Trophy||United States|
|2009||Walker Cup||United States|
Merion Golf Club in popular culture 
Merion Golf Club plays a prominent part in the novel "Back Spin" by Harlan Coben. The novel features a U.S. Open championship taking place at the Golf Club during which the son of Jack Coldgren, the golfer leading the pack, is kidnapped.
- "National Course Rating Database: Merion GC, East Course". USGA. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
- "National Course Rating Database: Merion GC, West Course". USGA. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23.
- "Merion Golf Club". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- Hack, Damon (May 15, 2008). "Setting a new standard: Bobby Jones wins the Grand Slam in 1930". GOLF.com. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
- Gould, Alan (September 28, 1930). "Jones captures golf title". Reading Eagle. Associated Press. p. 13.
- Talbot, Gayle (June 11, 1950). "Hogan, Mangrum, Fazio tie; Ben's legs give out". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. p. 1-B.
- Hack, Damon (October 20, 2008). "Hogan's return: back from tragedy to win the 1950 U.S. Open". GOLF.com. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
- "Ben Hogan's 100th Birthday". GOLF.com. 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
- Shefter, David (April 29, 2010). "Museum Moment - Hogan’s Famous 1-Iron". USGA. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
- "Merion set for U.S. Open return". USGA last=Shefter. April 30, 2013. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
- Fitzpatrick, Frank (May 6, 2013). "Merion Golf Club steeped in history, tradition". Philly.com. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
- Sheppard, Bob (May 17, 2012). "On golf: Merion's wicker baskets". PhillyBurbs.com. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
- Miceli, Alex (2005 U.S. Amateur). "Basket catch: part of Merion's lore is the club's unique flagsticks". USGA. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
- Official Site
- Course overview and history
- Aerial photograph of 1930 U.S. Amateur Tournament at Merion Golf Club
- Trenham Golf History – U.S. Opens at Merion