Hole by hole: Merion Golf Club
Here's a look at each hole at Merion Golf Club, site of the 2013 U.S. Open.
MERION HOLE BY HOLE
|1||4||350||This is one of the great opening tee shots in golf with the teeing ground situated right beside the clubhouse patio. Expect to see long irons from the teeing ground, with a few players favoring fairway metals, which would leave a wedge into the green. A sycamore tree off to the right of the tee will likely prevent players from attempting to drive the green, which pitches from back to front. If played properly, this is a birdie opportunity.|
This fairway has been shifted to the player's right to create a more demanding tee shot. Players have a choice from the teeing ground: play the hole conservatively as a three-shotter, or attack the hole with a driver or 3-wood. Out of bounds looms closely on the right, and the rough on the left is some of the deepest on the course. From the drive zone, players will need to decide whether to lay up short of the cross bunker about 35 yards in front of the green, or attempt to fly it with their second shots. The putting green is relatively flat. Eagles and birdies are real possibilities, but one mistake along the way could lead to a bogey or worse.
Although it has the most receptive green of Merion's par 3s, this is a very difficult hole. Both the 219- and 256-yard teeing grounds will be used. The green pitches steeply from back left to front right. Players will not want to miss the green to the left under any circumstances, as keeping a recovery shot on the green from there will be very difficult. The bunker at the front right of the green is one of the deepest on the course.
This is the second par 5 on the course and the last one that players will encounter. A new teeing ground has been added, which brings the fairway bunkers into play. The tee shot features one of the most difficult drive zones to hit because of the pronounced right-to-left slope. The second shot is awkward as players will not be able to see over the cross bunker. Most players will lay up with an iron to leave themselves with a lofted club for their third shot to a green that slopes from back left to front right and is fronted by a creek.
This is perhaps Merion's finest driving hole. It doglegs from right to left with a stream bordering the left fairway for the entire length of the hole. The fairway also slopes from right to left. Right-handed players will face a hook lie for their long-iron approach shot, which can be bounced onto what is, without a doubt, the most severely sloped green on the course. Players must not leave their second shots right of the hole, or they will face exceptionally fast putts. Players who are able to par this hole will likely pick up close to a full stroke on most of the field.
This second consecutive difficult par 4 features a semi-blind tee shot over a crest to a bowl-shaped fairway. Most players will be left with a slightly uphill, mid- to long-iron approach shot to a green that is pitched from the back left to the front. The player will also have to negotiate a false front, requiring an approach that either bounces up onto the green or flies to the middle of the green. Par is a very good score on this hole.
This hole begins a stretch of holes that could provide several birdie opportunities. Most of the field will hit long irons from the teeing ground to a semi-blind, angled drive zone, leaving a lofted approach shot. A slightly pushed tee shot brings overhanging trees and out-of-bounds into play on the right side. The large green is perched up on a knob and has three distinct plateaus. A severe drop-off to the left will leave a difficult up-and-down.
Players will likely hit anything from a fairway metal to a long iron to an S-shaped drive zone with thick fescue rough both left and right of the fairway. The relatively short approach shot is to a small green protected by deep rough and bunkers. The putting surface has wonderful contours and slopes from back left to front right. Played properly, it's a good birdie opportunity, but bogey is a distinct possibility for players who miss the green. Expect to see the tee markers moved up one day to give players an option of driving up near or onto the green.
This difficult par 3 is played downhill to a kidney-shaped green. Most players will hit 6-irons to the front hole location, which is deceptively tough given the water hazard that sits in front and to the right of the green. Long irons will be required to carry the left bunker and reach the back of this angled green. There will be many more bogeys than birdies on this one-shotter.
Ever since Bob Jones won the Grand Slam in 1930, this has been a drivable par 4. Every player in the field will be capable of reaching the green from the teeing ground, although the shape of the hole requires a fairly severe right-to-left curve around the corner. The conservative play is a 200-yard shot from the teeing ground to the very narrow fairway. Players who attempt to drive the green and miss to the left will end up in deep fescue rough and will likely have difficulty getting the next shot onto the green.
Most players will hit a long iron or hybrid from the teeing ground on this hole, where Bob Jones completed the final leg of his Grand Slam in 1930. It's an absolute must to hit the blind fairway, which sits roughly 12 feet below the tee and is flanked by Baffling Brook on the left. Those who miss the fairway will most likely be forced to lay up short of the brook, which hugs the front, right and rear of the teardrop-shaped green. It's a birdie hole if played properly, but there assuredly will be plenty of bogeys and double bogeys.
This medium-length, hard dogleg-right par 4 places a premium on the tee shot, to a fairway that slopes severely from left to right. From the left side of the fairway, a right-handed player will face an approach shot with the ball well below his feet. The right side of the fairway leaves a flatter lie, but it is bordered by extremely penal rough. The green slopes severely from back left to front right, and any approach that misses long or left will leave a treacherous up-and-down.
On the other three one-shotters at Merion, players will be thrilled to make par. On No. 13, with a wedge in their hands, players are hoping to make a birdie 2. However, the oval-shaped green is probably the smallest on the course, with challenging contour. The player's view of the putting surface is obscured by the huge bunker that fronts the green.
Most players will likely choose driver on this stout, uphill par 4, which features bunkers in the drive zone along with high fescue rough to the left. The approach shot will likely be with a mid-iron to a large green that features wonderful contour. Approach shots that miss the green to the left are in danger of bouncing off the closely mown knoll and running out of bounds.
This hole offers a choice from the teeing ground: long iron, hybrid, 3-wood or even driver. This is probably the most intimidating tee shot at Merion, because of the left-to-right dogleg and the out of bounds which is dangerously close on the left. The preferred shot shape off the tee is from left to right, but bailing out to the right into the deep bunkers or thick rough will likely result in bogey. Once the player reaches the green, his work will not end. The 15th is one of Merion's most severely sloped greens.
Many players will hit 3-wood on the famous Quarry Hole to stay short of the hazard. The approach shot will likely be with a medium-to-short iron to a green that features a pronounced depression in the front right. If played properly, this is the last realistic birdie opportunity before the difficult 17th and 18th holes.
This hole, an outstanding penultimate hole in an amphitheater setting, will be played from both the 246-yard and the 195-yard teeing grounds. The hole is slightly downhill to a green that features a pronounced ridge in the front that must be carried with the tee shot. The contours tend to feed balls to the back right portion of the green. Front hole locations are very tough and will be used in combination with the shorter tee.
This is one of the great finishing holes for a U.S. Open and is likely to play as the hardest hole for the week. The difficult drive is semi-blind over the quarry to a landing area that pitches downhill and steeply from right to left at 300 yards out. The ideal shot shape is left to right, but a mis-hit could be in danger of not carrying the quarry. A player who carries the quarry but lays back short of the downhill ridge roughly 300 yards off the tee will be left with a mid-to-long iron off a relatively flat lie. The player who drives past the ridge will be left with a short-to-mid iron, but off a difficult downhill-sidehill lie. The very challenging green is unique for Merion in that it is somewhat dome-shaped; it is better to be long than short on the approach shot.