"It's for divot control"
By mustang6560 on 12/17/12
The United States Open Championship returns to Merion Golf Club for the fifth time in history next June.

The four previous Opens held there were in 1934, 1950, 1971, and 1981, and the list of champions to win at Merion include two of golf's legends — Ben Hogan and Lee Trevino.

Merion will join Winged Foot Golf Club, Pebble Beach Golf Links, and The Olympic Club as the fourth club to host the U.S. Open five times. Only Oakmont Country Club (8), Baltusrol Golf Club (7), and Oakland Hills Country Club (6) have hosted the Open more times.

With only six months left until it hosts 113th U.S. Open, Merion has asked its members to help with the last minute preparations.
To what lengths will Merion GC go to prepare for the 2013 U.S. Open? Would you believe they are hitting off artificial mats from the fairway?

"It's for divot control," said Bob Rex, Merion's Green Chairman.

The mats, which have been in use since October, are rectangular, about 5 inches wide by 15 inches long, with a little bulbous knob on the end.

It's a simple concept. Each caddie at Merion, which is a walking-only course, carries a mat in the pouch of his caddie bib. By the time his player reaches his tee shot, the caddie has lifted, cleaned and placed his ball on the mat.

"They're just like something you'd find at the driving range," one Merion member said of the mats. "I actually find them easier to hit off of than turf."
According to the article, the club hasn't received any push back from its members, which isn't shocking. If I belonged to a prestigious golf club, one that was on the verge of hosting the U.S. Open, I'd pretty much do anything to help the club prepare to host 156 golfers, thousands of spectators and millions of viewers from around the world.

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Image via U.S. Open

[ comments ]
jpjeffery says:
This is absurd. Golf isn't about perfect lies! It's about playing it as you find it, including some divots once in a while. The pros are plenty good enough to deal with that.
sjduffers says:
JP, I agree but a fairway looking like gruyere cheese doesn't look as good on TV, which in turns affects the impression the world would have of the venue, reflecting badly on the club... In other words, I think it's all about appearance.
joe jones says:
No biggee. More importantly ,what will the USGA do to the course to make it tough for today's bombers? Can they lengthen it? The greens are rather small. If they increase the speed like they usually do they may be almost unplayable with a mid iron.Holding a long iron, rescue or fairway second shot to the par fives will be difficult at best. Any thoughts by anyone?
bkuehn1952 says:
I guess since there is a huge financial payoff for a club like Merion to play host to the US Open and that ultimately benefits the membership. Still, if I were paying the type of dues that I suspect Merion charges, I might have a problem with spending 4-6 months hitting off of astro turf. If they are that nuts about appearances, then spend the 2 weeks leading up to the Open laying tiny pieces of bent grass sod in any unrepaired divot holes - which there ahould be damn few if the membership and caddies cooperate.

We played Torrey Pines 2 months prior to the Open. I left a big ass unrepaired divot hole in the middle of the 14th fairway which Tiger successfully hit from to make birdie (okay, slight exaggeration).
Torleif Sorenson says:
(1) BKuehn1952 is spot-on. Why on God's green earth are they doing this SIX months out? ONE month should be enough!

(2) Don't share this article with anybody at Augusta National...
Dusty23 says:
You'd think they'd hand those out after the Open. Once the pro's are done there after a weeks play there will be nothing but divots in the fairway. Whenever they show those blimp shots on TV that show how chewed up the course is after they're done, I wonder why anyone would want a tournament. The grounds crews must love it after these guys leave.
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