Moments after the U.S.
victory was sealed in the 42nd Walker Cup Match Sunday at Merion Golf Club, Mike Davis rolled up in his golf cart,
walkie-talkie still attached to his ear, another championship under his belt.
Davis, senior director of rules and competition for the U.S. Golf Association, is the man who
set up Merion’s
East Course for the Walker Cup and the man who will do the same for the U.S. Open
in 2013. If anything other than lousy weather
goes wrong, or if the golfers tear up the course, it’s usually on Davis.
His No. 1 takeaway from the Walker Cup?
"This is a national treasure
in the world of golf and to expose it to the world, I feel good about that,"
Fair enough, but did he
learn anything from the Walker Cup that will be useful in four years for the Open?
"Refinements," said Davis. "You
learn the greens more, you learn the fairway contours and widths, grass
heights, the way the grass is mowed.
They are little things but I probably have 14 pages of notes."
"Take the 3rd
hole," said Davis. "I didn’t get it right this afternoon
with that back left hole location."
No. 3 at Merion is a
tough uphill par 3. Most days, it
plays anywhere from 168 to 181 yards, into a deep, sloped green. On Saturday, as an experiment for the Open, Davis
actually used a nearby tee for the 6th hole for No. 3, making it play
as a 278-yard par 3. On Sunday, he
returned the tees to the rear of the regular tee box, but introduced a tricky,
back left hole location. He
learned a lesson.
"It’s a neat hole location,
but you’ve got to hit 7 or 8 iron to it, and today they were hitting mostly 6
irons," said Davis. "That’s a little too much for that
For some fans at the Walker Cup,
where crowds ranged from 4,000 to 6,000 each day, one question they came away
with is whether Merion can accommodate upwards of 10 times that for the Open. Not Davis.
"First of all, it’s not 10 times,"
he said. "And believe it or not, there is a lot of room for grandstands. We will have some challenges moving
crowds, but you can seat crowds on the course. It will work, it will absolutely work."
If anything, added Davis, Merion has
better potential for viewing than some other Open venues, such as Winged Foot. "All the greens sit up in the air
there, and there are trees around every one of them and we can’t get
grandstands around many of them," said Davis.
Still, Davis noted that Merion will be a "small Open," with
maybe 25,000 spectators each day.
But they knew that before they picked it for ’13.
Fact is, said Davis, the Walker Cup
only confirmed his impressions from the 2005 U.S. Amateur, that Merion remains a viable and worthy
venue for its fifth Open.
But after the heavy rains
that soaked the course on Friday of Walker Cup week, he did come away with one
concern for the Open.
"If I have a fear, it’s four
days of wet conditions, where they are throwing darts, but I feel that way at
said Davis. A bunch of rain and it
won’t play like Merion should play.
But I’m telling you, if we get firm conditions, this course will be an