Merion Golf Club to host U.S. Open in 2013



The 2013 U.S. Open Championship is still more than a year away, but preparations are already in full swing at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., the host of one of the sport’s highest-profile events.

The course where legends like Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino made history will now be a test of shot-making for a new generation of players who may never have heard of Merion in its 30-year absence from the golf tour.

Merion last hosted a U.S. Open in 1981 (in addition to several thrilling and memorable ones in 1934, 1950, and 1971). As golf’s popularity increased in the modern era, and its television viewers, spectators and corporate participants swelled, the likelihood of another U.S. Open here diminished as other courses (more suitable for larger crowds, more sponsor tents, and longer layouts for the new breed of power-hitters) got the nod for hosting.

But after some smaller, but significant golf events were held at Merion in the past decade, including the U.S. Amateur and Walker Cup, the United States Golf Association announced in 2006 that the U.S. Open Championship would be coming back to Merion for the fifth time in 2013.

From that moment, the work of coordinating a major sporting and media event had begun. That process is now in full gear as teams of USGA, Merion Golf Club, and area officials partner to prepare the course and its facilities for the world.

As the general chairman of the U.S. Open committee at Merion, Rick Ill’s role is overseeing the planning and preparation from the Merion Golf Club perspective, in coordination with an on-site team from the USGA. That’s no small task considering the unique challenges a 100-year-old course, on a postage stamp size 138 acres, in a residential neighborhood, will entail. But Ill’s team has been busy addressing all these issues since early 2010.

“Obviously this course was built in an era that didn’t have the size and scope needs of spectators and media, and moving this many people around, so we had to come up with lots of solutions,” Ill says.

“On site we are looking at major grandstand areas to keep people in one spot, hopefully, with seating for 17,000 people, to ease some of the course congestion and keep people in strategic areas. Likewise, some of the corporate and hospitality areas will be adjacent to the club grounds on private property, and we are working with the local neighbors and some other off-course sites to make all that happen.”

The USGA has set a 25,000 spectator limit for ticket sales for the 2013 Open by event standards a much smaller gate than for larger venues over the years. That number will be closer to 33,000 when adding the media and volunteer force. “Just getting this many people to the course is the first hurdle, so we have been working with area venues to discuss parking and shuttling possibilities from the soccer facility in Chester, Villanova University and Haverford College, etc.,” Ill says.

The checklist of items that need to be finalized before the event kicks off in June 2013 sounds dizzying when you consider such things as dealing with government officials to shutting down Ardmore Avenue and Golf House Road the week of the event, working with SEPTA to build pedestrian bridges, coordinating member and corporate sponsor events, building an area volunteer and course marshaling corps, working with the USGA for course and grounds upgrades, security, emergency, weather contingencies, and the list goes on.

Yet for all of the challenges that are being met regarding the grounds and facilities, Ill is most animated when talking about the East golf course—no surprise being that Ill is an avid golfer and former Merion Golf Club president from 2006-2011.

“It’s exciting to bring the Open back to Merion. We thought we’d never see it here again,” he says.

“The East course will play well under 7,000 yards, and it can’t be lengthened simply because we are out of room. But we have made a lot of changes that affect shot value, and with the USGA setup from Mike Davis (executive director of the USGA) and his folks, I really don’t think the pros will tear this course up.”

New changes in store for the course include the addition of strategic bunkering on holes 2, 15 and 16. Hole No. 3 will play from the back tee area of current hole No. 6, creating a 265-yard, uphill par 3, a monster shot by any standards. Add fairways that will be narrowed to 22 to 24 yards wide, greens running at a slick 13.5 on the Stimpmeter, and the usual U.S. Open high rough, and you’ll have a course that should provide a fitting challenge for the best golfers in the world.

“A lot of today’s greatest tour golfers haven’t played here, or maybe didn’t even know about Merion until it came back into the U.S. Open lineup again,” says Hank Thompson, the USGA’s championship director. “Based on the number of tour players who came over to play Merion while they were in town last year for the
AT&T National at nearby Aronimink Golf Club, I’d say there is quite a mix of curiosity and excitement.”

Thompson will call the Philadelphia area home for a two-year period leading up to June 2013 with his on-site duties coordi-nating activities that take place “outside the ropes” (golf speak for the areas that will accommodate the spectators and general public, outside of the playing course).

“This is a great event for the game to bring the U.S. Open back after 30 years to a sports-crazy area like Philadelphia, to a course as rich in USGA tradition as Merion,” he says. “And it’s our job to make sure that excitement comes through in as great a spectator experience as we can provide.”

 


Ticket Information

Tickets for the 2013 U.S. Open Championship (June 10-16) go on sale to the general public Monday, June 11, 2012. For more info, visit usopen.com or usga.org. The event has sold out in years past, and with a smaller ticket distribution for 2013 due to the size of Merion, spectators are advised to get their tickets early.

 


Merion Golf Club Highlights 

• Merion Golf Club is founded in 1896.
• Then-unheralded course architect Hugh Wilson designs the East Course in 1912, and the West Course in 1914.
• Bobby Jones wins the U.S. Amateur here in 1930. The term “Grand Slam” was coined after this win. He had won the three other majors prior to that year: the British Open, British Amateur and U.S. Open.
• Ben Hogan hits the famous 1-iron shot on the 18th hole to force a playoff, and wins the next day to capture the 1950 U.S. Open. The accomplishment is even more notable after his comeback the final day, playing 36 holes while limping. Hogan had been in a traffic accident a year prior, sustaining potentially crippling injuries.
• Lee Trevino bests Jack Nicklaus in 1971, winning the U.S. Open in a playoff.
• Host site for five U.S. Open Championships (1934, 1950, 1971, 1981, 2013)
• Has hosted more USGA Championship events than any other course
• Jack Nicklaus on Merion: “Acre for acre, it may be the best test of golf in the world.”

 


U.S. Open Facts

The production of such an iconic sporting event requires years of planning—a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make four days of golf enjoyable for all. Consider that a small city will need to be built in order to accommodate media, spectators, golf officials, players and their families. These numbers help in visualizing the magnitude of just what is needed: 

  • 2,000 tons of air-conditioning equipment—enough to cool 800 homes
  • 50 miles of cable
  • 300 telephones
  • 500 TVs
  • 7 miles of fencing
  • 370,000 square feet of flooring/carpeting–enough to cover 8 ½ acres 
  • 100,000 Nathan’s hot dogs
  • 42,000 hamburgers
  • 18,000 jumbo cookies
  • 125,000 drinking cups
  • 600 restroom units
  • 48,000 bags of potato chips
  • 20 megawatts of electricity—all on-site generated (enough to power 4,000 homes)
  • Close to 5,000 volunteers representing 46 of the 50 states and 16 countries

(for the 1981 U.S. Open at Merion, there were 500 volunteers)

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Christiana Care at the New Castle Farmers Market Location: New Castle Farmers Market, 110 N. Dupont Hwy., New Castle, Market Stage Area Time: 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Routine screenings for...

Where:
, DE

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A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

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Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
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Features activities and crafts that help visitors learn about local and national political roles in environmental conservation. Visitors can learn about the battle that politicians fought for a...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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The Philly Home Show will inspire your inner HGTV star at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia from Feb. 12–14 and 19–21. The show will feature highly interactive...

Cost: $13

Where:
Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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What was behind the legendary story of King Midas and his golden touch? That is the question to be answered—not with chests full of gold, but with a spectacular array of ancient artifacts,...

Cost: Adults $20; seniors $18; students (with ID) $15; children (ages 6–17) $15

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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Guests can explore three floors of exhibitions in the Visitor Center, stroll along the river through dozens of historic structures from the Industrial Revolution, and explore the gardens and...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
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Penn Museum opens the world premiere exhibition The Golden Age of King Midas—featuring ancient treasures on loan from the Republic of Turkey—with a spectacular daylong public...

Cost: $15

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
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For more information, please contact: Dave Ruffner ​Rehoboth Beach Film Society 107 Truitt Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 302-645-9095, ext. 4 administrator@rehobothfilm.com...

Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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The Rehoboth Beach Film Society and CAMP Rehoboth will co-present "Tab Hunter Confidential" and "Portrait of a Serial Monogamist" as part of its annual Another Take...

Cost: $8

Where:
Metropolitan Community Church
19369 Plantation Rd.
Rehoboth Beach, DE  19971
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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"La Sylphide" shares the beautiful and romantic story of our hero, James—a young Scottish farmer who, on the eve of hid wedding, abandons his betrothed, Effie, after being...

Cost: $25

Where:
Salesanium School
1801 North Broom St.
Wilmington, DE  19802
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Sponsor: Academy of International Ballet
Telephone: 1-866-908-5666
Contact Name: Denis Gronostayskiy
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Venture back with us for an evening where we re-imagine the Victorian Industrial Age as seen through our steam-powered, futuristic goggles.  Our biggest fundraiser of the year and all proceeds...

Cost: $100-$110

Where:
Smyrna Opera House
7 West South Street
Smyrna, DE  19977
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A spoiled orphan girl is sent to live with her uncle on the Yorkshire moors and discovers renewed life, for herself and her sickly cousin, in bringing her dead aunt’s secret garden back to...

Cost: $15–$18

Where:
The Secret Garden
47 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Everett Theatre
Telephone: 302-540-8561
Contact Name: Chris Everett
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Location: St. Mark’s High School, 2501 Pike Creek Road, Wilmington Time: Registration: 11:30 a.m. Race: 12:30 p.m. Fee: $25 (until Thursday, Feb. 11), $35 after and day of event...

Where:
, DE

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Location: Beebe Healthcare’s Medical Center, 424 Savannah Road, Lewes Date: Saturday, Feb. 13 (and the second Saturday of each month) Time: 9 a.m. Fee: Free For more...

Where:
, DE

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Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

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A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

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Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

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