ESPN columnist Rick Reilly writes that there are many reasons the U.S. Open should never return to Merion Golf Club in Ardmore. And he doesn't mince words about the storied course in Thursday's piece, At Merion, smaller may not be better.
He starts with a tale from a neighboring homeowner named Thomas Gravina, who "came downstairs Thursday to find a bunch of golf pros eating muffins in his living room."
"Because Merion is the size of a casserole dish, the Gravinas' kitchen, living room, dining room and library are now the U.S. Open Player Hospitality Center, which means he can walk in his front door nearly any time of the day and find Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson or some other touring pro loitering around his house," Reilly's column continued.
He writes that Gravina and others "turned their lives upside down (for no money), so the USGA could shoehorn one last U.S. Open into this little jewel box. But this is getting ridiculous."
"Property owners have the right to not allow their homes to be part of the Championship," the USGA stated. Haverford Patch unsuccessfully tried to contact Gravina.
The USGA said in a statement that "We extend our gratitude to local homeowners, many of whom are members at Merion Golf Club, for their cooperation and generosity in using their property as needed space for facilities such as hospitality and other services such as scoring and media."
The USGA also commented that it "chooses U.S. Open sites that are unique, special and historic, and that deliver the most comprehensive examination in the game that tests players and excites fans."
"We recognize the fact that Merion represents a smaller footprint than most U.S. Open sites, however we are confident that our operational plan is delivering a player and fan experience worthy of Philadelphia and the U.S. Open. We have closely collaborated with Merion Golf Club, Haverford College, neighbors, local municipalities and state agencies, and have put many initiatives in place to provide the best experience possible," the statement continues.
Yes, the space is smaller than many other tournament locations, but "This is a big golf area. We should be having majors here," said Villanova's Mary Ann Walter, who also marshaled for two years at the AT&T tournament at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square.
She told Haverford Patch on Wednesday that she thinks players should be happy to play Merion, with its rich history and traditional-style course.
"They owe the game of golf to come back to courses like this."
Reilly ends his column, saying, "So enjoy cuddly, furry, wonderful Merion for this one last week. Hopefully, after this, it goes the way of Old Yeller."
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments area below.
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