Saturday, February 2, 2013

2013 US Open at Historic Merion GC

2013 US Open at Merion 

The 2013 US Open at the historic Merion Golf Club will present another opportunity to call attention to the local connections to the great history of the Open, especially the 100th anniversary of John McDermott's attempt to defend his title for a third consecutive time and the legendary preliminary tournament at Shawnee. 

From what I understand, a new book on the history of Shawnee is in the works. 

Besides Atlantic City CC pro John McDermott winning the 1911 and 1912 US Opens, there are a number of other local connections. 

When the 1971 US Open was held at Merion, the Open ground crew came to the Atlantic City Country Club to collect some straw grass, that grows along the bay that they put around some of the greens as an additional hazard.  

That was the last US Open that McDermott would watch as a spectator and when he would meet Arnold Palmer. 

Pete Trenham's Gold History site is gearing up for the Open and is filling us in on some of the great history of the game. 

More to come on this as we get closer to tee time. 

Bill Kelly 

Dear Golf Historians and Golf Enthusiasts
With the U.S. Open coming to Merion GC again in June the  team is announcing four presentations that will appear on our website leading up to the tournament. This, our first of the four, showcases the 1934 U.S. Open at what was then called Merion Cricket Club.

The winner, Olin Dutra, pulled off an amazing feat. While visiting his brother Mortie in Detroit on his way to Merion he suffered an attack of dysentery and had to be hospitalized. Still feeling week he trailed the leader Gene Sarazen by eight strokes at the end of 36 holes. Dutra suffered another attack after Friday’s round and had to play Saturday’s double round on a diet of sugar cubes and water. He was the last player off the tee on Saturday morning and in spite of having to face greens that had been spiked up by the earlier players he finished the day one stroke in front of the field. He was $1,000 to the better, less the $150 he paid his caddy Harry Gibson, and 15 pounds lighter than when he arrived at Merion.    

When you go to our website you will see a new look for the U.S. Open. The winners of the four U.S. Opens held at Merion are pictured along with the 1934 program book and a list with the order of finish which shows the money breakdown. You can view all 52 pages of the program book which features articles by the “Dean of American Sports Writing”, Grantland Rice, and O.B. Keeler who chronicled every stroke of Bobby Jones’ career. In order to read the articles you may need to enlarge them.  

We want to give a special thank you to well known Chadds Ford golf writer Jeff Silverman for writing the lead for our U.S. Open presentation.   

-  Pete Trenham 

Previous United States Open Winners At Merion - Olin Dutra 1934, Ben Hogan 1950, Lee Trevino 1971 & David Graham 1981

Looking Back At The Four U.S. Opens Held At Merion
by Jeff Silverman

Pete Dye, who knows a few things about golf courses and what can happen on them, once observed that “Merion isn’t great because history was made there; history was made there because Merion is great.” Great golf courses bring out the best in great players, in terms of game, certainly, but also in the ways they test – and reveal – the core of a champion’s character.

Olin Dutra had to beat back terrible illness and a more terrible reputation for collapsing down the stretch to triumph in 1934. Less than a year and a half after the horrific crash that almost killed him, Ben Hogan was forced to grittily walk on wobbly legs to prevail – over an exhausting four rounds and a play-off -- in 1950. Twenty-one years later, Lee Trevino confronted and banished crushing self-doubt – and the immense shadow of Jack Nicklaus – to prove that his first Open victory was no fluke, while a decade after that, an unheralded David Graham triumphed over what had been, in the championship’s approach, an exhausted game and a depleted body to survive the field and hoist the trophy.

With the U.S. Open returning to the East Course for the fifth time in June, the eyes of the golf world will again be on a small patch of the Main Line that was talked about as a pushover -- too short, too compact, too dated -- by Dutra’s own contemporaries. Yet, if I learned one thing in the writing of “Merion: The Championship Story,” the club’s forthcoming history, it is this: it is the very marvelous character of the course itself – deemed passĂ© as far back as 1934 – that has let it stand up to every challenge, and, in so doing, continue to stand the test of time.

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