A pilgrimage to Merion

ARDMORE, Pa. -- I came to Merion to see history, and to see history be made.

So far, so good.

Anyone who loves golf, and its history, should try to visit Merion Golf Club at least once. I figured coming to the U.S. Open would be my best bet.

No other course has played host to more U.S. Golf Association events, and the club's history is chock full of great champions and great moments.

Chief among my must-see spots was the 11th hole, where Bobby Jones completed the Grand Slam by winning the U.S. Amateur here in 1930. He closed out his opponent in the final, Eugene Homans, with an 8 & 7 victory. Marines had to protect Jones as eager fans rushed the green.

Another must-see is the plaque in the 18th fairway commemorating Ben Hogan's epic 1-iron in the final round of the 1950 U.S. Open. He lashed the shot from over 200 yards onto the green, two-putted for par and then won a three-man playoff the next day. Mind you, this was Hogan AFTER he had the horrific car accident. His win at Merion signaled he was back.

Much has been made this week of Merion's logistical issues. The course is not long enough for modern pros, the grounds aren't big enough to accommodate the usual U.S. Open throngs, and traffic is difficult.

Well, the golf course is holding up just fine, thank you. Only two players were under par after 36 holes. And while getting around outside the gates has been a challenge, it has been worth it. The USGA should put Merion on a permanent rotation to hold the U.S. Open here once a decade.

My biggest disappointment, so far, is that Merion's clubhouse has been off-limits to the media. Apparently it is serving as a hospitality house for the USGA. Oh well, it would have been nice to wander through and check out the cool pictures and other artifacts.

Despite the rain, the ensuing mud and some interesting misadventures being shuttled to the range and interview areas, the trip has been a blast.

Now if I can only win a spot in the media lottery and play the course Monday.

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