Archive for the ‘Pennsylvania’ Category

Merion Golf Club (East)

Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, PA

merion golf club east

Me, my dad, Larry and Robin

The Stats

Tee Time: July 28, 2015, 9:36, 90 F, sunny

Designer: Hugh Wilson, 1911

Playing Partners: Robin Baggett, Larry McNabb, my dad

Tees: Middle, Par 70 (71.3 rating/144 slope/6,126 yards)

Course Handicap: 10 (8.2 index)

Stats: 79 (44-35); 34 putts; 6/14 fairways; 9/18 greens

The Course

I had the extremely good fortune of getting to play Merion Golf Club’s East Course in Ardmore, Pennsylvania to get to 23 states completed. Known for its unmatched collection of great golf holes, several memorable US Opens and those wicker-basket flagsticks, I looked forward to this on my calendar for three months. Christmas came early. A couple of things about the club first. This is the first club I have been to with this much history. Built in 1896, the heritage and tradition run deep. Caddies are mandatory, there aren’t any yardage markers. No golf carts. No hats indoors. The course is always kept in championship condition. Slick greens, long rough and narrow fairways. Pace of play isn’t just a suggestion, it’s a requirement. Members who don’t complete rounds in under 4 hours get reprimanded and repeat offenders are temporarily benched. They honor the rules here. Not even a breakfast ball. I have a few friends who would struggle with that one. And really, if you’re going to knock it around at a place as esteemed and historic as this, the letter of the law is the only way to go. The club works hard to keep Merion the same as it played when it first opened, and it’s awesome to think you’re experiencing the course just as Bobby Jones did. Fortunately, they don’t go completely old-school and make you play with wooden woods and feather-stuffed balls.

merion golf club hole 11

The 11th, in 2015 as it was in 1930

The best thing they made me do was leave my cell phone in the car so I had nothing distracting me from the experience. The men’s locker room has an air of antiquity that’s like walking back in time a few decades. Located upstairs where the heat gathers, it has metal lockers probably from 1965 that look like they were once used by at Philadelphia Eagles training camps. And the post round shower, which you will need if playing in the summer, is as refreshing as a Costa Rican waterfall. Trust me. On the short drive to the practice range, around 8am, we noticed the flagsticks were adorned with actual flags and not the wicker baskets. Turns out they have to bring them in every night before sundown due to thieves running out and taking these unique souvenirs. They replace them as play progresses in the morning. I hadn’t thought about stealing a flagstick, as cool as they are, and when when the idea entered my head I realized it wouldn’t fit in my travel bag. Would’ve looked pretty sweet in my garden, though. The other thing about the wicker flagsticks is that the poles are noticeably thicker than your standard flagstick. I hit one dead center with a chip and it had no room to drop into the cup. Oh well, I’m clearly over it.

merion golf club east hole 1

The 1st

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