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Merion

I played Merion in 2015 with a client, Rob E. Super nice fellow, had played at North Berwick and is a really good golfer. I had a made a presentation to a group of his colleagues and we got chatting. Very quickly established we were golf nuts and took it from there. From our conversation I gathered he was a good golfer. What I had not appreciated was just how good.

 Bob is a great guy. he has a very interesting family background. A great golfer. he competed at US amateur level twice.

Bob is a great guy. he has a very interesting family background. A great golfer. he competed at US amateur level twice.

I met him at Merion, and we went into the Clubhouse to go change and get ready to play. Lots of folks said hello to him and he clearly is a popular guy there. Then I saw his name on the Board as a former Club Champion.

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This is a link to the Club’s website:http://www.meriongolfclub.com/Club-Information

And this is a bit of blurb about the course: Championship golf and champion golfers have long been intertwined with the mystique of Merion Golf Club’s East and West Courses. Designed by Hugh Wilson, Merion’s East Course has played host to more USGA Championships than any course in America and is home to some of its greatest moments.  From Robert Tyre Jones, Jr.'s completion of golf’s elusive Grand Slam at the 1930 U.S. Amateur to Ben Hogan’s awe-inspiring performance and now legendary one-iron on the 72nd hole during the 1950 U.S. Open, the sculpted greens, fairways and treacherous bunkers of Merion have shaped the game.  Most recently the host of the 2013 U.S. Open, Merion continues to not only challenge the world’s best, but identify them as well.

This was from Golf Digest published just before Justin Rose won a US Open at Merion: THE LEGEND OF HUGH WILSON

Merion's East Course, on which this year's Open will be played, shares a surprising trait with three other perennial top-10 selections in Golf Digest's ranking of America's 100 Greatest: like Oakmont, Pebble Beach and Pine Valley, it was designed by a novice. It was laid out in 1911 by Hugh Wilson, a young member of what was then the golf division of the Merion Cricket Club, who had been the captain of the golf team at Princeton but had no other grounding in golf design. The story that's usually told about Wilson--and I've told it myself, based on a history that the club published in 1989--is that before creating his masterpiece he spent seven months traveling through Scotland and England, taking notes on the world's most distinguished courses. But that story is wrong. John G. Capers III, a longtime member and the chairman of the club's archives committee, told me, "To the best of our knowledge, Wilson designed Merion before he went to the British Isles, and by the time he went the course had been routed, graded and seeded." Capers says that Wayne Morrison, who is a member of his committee and a semi-obsessive student of golf architecture, has searched ship-passenger manifests from the relevant years and found no trace of Wilson. Furthermore, Capers says, the club's committee minutes from 1910 and 1911 show that Wilson, during the period when he was supposedly abroad, never missed a meeting or mentioned a trip. "He did go in the spring of 1912," Capers says, "and we are certain of that because Wayne found a two-inch clipping from a British newspaper saying that an American from Haverford was over there looking at courses." Wilson stayed for roughly two months. "He had a ticket to return on April 10, 1912--and a letter from his sister confirms this--but he wanted to see a few more courses, and so canceled his passage on the Titanic."

Wilson's close call was the club's good fortune, because he did more work on the course when he returned. He and William Flynn, the club's first superintendent (and, later, the designer of Shinnecock Hills), added roughly 100 bunkers, creating the legendary "white faces of Merion." Merion's bunkers aren't prim ovals; the best of them are angry-looking rips in the fabric of the course, like the bunkers at Royal County Down, and they have become more fearsome over the years, as the slashings of a century's worth of golfers have altered the adjacent topography. You can see the effect clearly on the front part of the green of the 115-yard 13th, which Arnold Palmer has called one of the greatest short holes in golf. The green was tilted but relatively contour-free when it was built, some 90 years ago; it now has a prominent leading edge, where sand from innumerable explosion shots has steadily accreted, forming a lip that complicates almost all escape attempts, especially if the player's tee ball has landed in one of the dozen or so bushel-size clumps of dune grass scattered through the sand. Capers told me that you could probably date a golf course by studying the perimeters of its greenside bunkers--almost like carbon dating. "The highest built-up lips are always in front of the green and to the right, because most players are short or right," he said. "The smallest are long and left."

Capers presides over what he believes to be the largest private-club golf archive in the United States, if not the world. It's up a short flight of steps from the club's library, which is just off the hallway that leads to the women's locker room. Among its treasures: more than 10,000 digitized photographs and 90,000 digitized newspaper clippings and other documents; a set of Ben Hogan's (surprisingly heavy) stainless-steel irons, from the 1950s; bound volumes containing all the handwritten work diaries of the club's superintendents from the 1920s onward; player badges from every important event played at the club since the 1930 U.S. Amateur; a U.S. Open license plate, which Capers acquired, by eminent domain, from the clubhouse parking lot in 1981; and two of the club's distinctive flagsticks, which are topped not by flags but by balloon-shape wicker baskets (red for the opening nine and orange on the back). The club has used baskets on its flagsticks since 1915, when William Flynn patented them. They are one of Merion's fiercely protected traditions, although the USGA, for unknown reasons, replaced them with conventional flags for the 1950 Open--something it hasn't done since, and won't do in June.

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