Buddy Marucci, Bill Greenwood, Brad Bradbeer 
Final observations about Merion and the Open
Monday, June 17, 2013
By Joe Logan

-- What a spectacular U.S. Open for Merion!  The City of Philadelphia thanks you, Philadelphia sports fans thank you, the entire world of golf thanks you and hails you.


Merion put its neck and its reputation on the line to host this Open and worked out better than anyone ever could have imagined.  No player finished under par?  That’s astonishing, especially after all the predictions (I made a few myself) that these guys could go low and embarrass Merion in the process.


-- Who deserves the most credit?  I’ve got two names.  One is Matt Shaffer, the superintendent at Merion.  That guy could grow grass in a cave.  He worked miracles and he never panicked, even when rains of Biblical proportions early in the week threatened to wash away the course and the Open.


The other is Mike Davis, executive director of the U.S. Golf Association.  If you had to pick one guy to stand up and take a bow for the success of the Open, it would be Davis.   He was the junior staffer who was sent to Merion in the early 2000s to tell the club it was no longer a viable candidate to host the Open.  What he saw, and the people he met, changed his mind.


Davis, in turn, convinced his boss, then-executive director David Fay.  Together, they sold the USGA Executive Committee.  When Fay retired a couple years ago and Davis succeeded him, the Open at Merion became his baby, right down to setting up the course each day.  If you could buy stock in Mike Davis, I’d bet the family farm.


-- One guy who deserved a share of the spotlight this week slipped in an out of town very quietly, walking the course for two days but otherwise drawing no attention. I am referring to Bill Greenwood, who was the chairman of Merion’s Green Committee from 1994 to 2006;  he was instrumental in masterminding and ramrodding the restoration project that made the Open possible.


Greenwood lives on Cape Cod these days and is no longer even a member of Merion but, arguably, none of this would have happened if not for him.   Greenwood was at Merion on Tuesday and Friday, walking with Buddy Marucci and Brad Bradbeer, both members of the Green Committee with him back in the crucial years of the restoration.


I spoke to Greenwood by phone on Saturday, and he was happy for Merion and happy to see the work of his committee come to full fruition.  "Everybody is thrilled," said Greenwood.


As Greenwood tells the story, it was the summer of 1995 and Merion was hustling to re-grass its greens in time for a 100-year anniversary celebration of the club the following year,  which was going to include a members-only tournament on the East Course.  Problem was, over the years, trees had been planted all over the course that had grown to cast long shadows over fairways and, more problematic, over several greens.


Paul Latshaw, the superintendent at the time, told Greenwood.  "I can’t grow grass in the shade."


Two days later, when they took out a tree that was blocking the sun from getting to the 15th green, Grenwood and Latshaw liked what they saw.  It opened up the hole so much, they began looking at other trees, other shade patterns.  One thing led to another, until the full-blown restoration project was born,


"This is Merion’s big moment," Greenwood said Saturday.  Did he miss being part of the hoopla of the Open? "Nah, my big moment was six years ago."


-- I know we all were pulling for Phil Mickelson to win the Open, and he would have been a great champion.   But Justin Rose is a great substitute.  An proper Englishman, Rose is a gentleman, very popular among his peers, and he has as a gorgeous golf swing.  He was on the short list of great players who hadn’t yet won a major.  Now that he has, look for him to win more.  Rose is a fine addition to the list of remarkable championship Merion has produced.


-- Working for the week in the big media center next to the big merchandise tent was a pleasure, especially listening to out-of-towners marvel at Merion and Philadelphia.  Because there is hasn’t been a major here since 1981, and there is no regular PGA Tour stop, many of my media colleagues hadn’t been to Philadelphia before and knew very little about the city.  What they saw, they loved.  Most of them could not believe that cool little Merion had been quietly sitting here for all these years and they didn’t know a thing about her.


-- Just because the Open was a success, don’t necessarily expect Merion to be back in the U.S. Open rota of courses every 10 years or so.  I’d be surprised if they want to host another Open for another 20 to 30 years.  Despite all the great publicity for Merion and the city, hosting an Open is a hassle and an imposition on the club and its members for years.  Merion needs and deserves a breather.


There’s another thing, which I hadn’t thought about until a Merion mentioned it to me the other day:  There’s a bit of the passing-of-the-torch going on inside Merion right now.  The U.S. Amatuer in 2005, the Walker Cup in 2009 and now the Open were the work of an older generation of very active Merion members.  Now, their work is done.  They are ready to step back and let a younger generation of members assume leadership roles at the club.  It’s up to those younger people to want and seek out future Opens.


-- Finally, this is my last blog post for a week, maybe two.  Last summer, I was out of commission for a month or so because of left hip replacement surgery.  Less than a year later, same thing on my right side.


Assuming the surgery goes as well as it did last time, I’ll be back at my laptop in a couple of weeks playing golf again in 8-9 weeks, in mid- to late-August.


Until then, I am your faithful golf correspondent.    










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Fran[6/18/2013 4:52:03 AM]
I agree completely but I think a debt of gratitude is also owed to the local townships, the neighbors and the volunteers. They were all great hosts and very friendly. Philadelpphia which always takes a black eye from the national media looked like the major league city we always knew it was. A speedy recovery Joe.

So far, Mike Davis is looking pretty smart
Thursday, June 13, 2013
By Joe Logan

Tiger Woods, Rory McIlory and Adam Scott are still on the course in the first round, but the inescapable conclusion so for is that Mike Davis was right and most of the rest of the world of golf was wrong: Merion can still host a U.S. Open.


Davis, of course, is the executive director of the U.S. Golf Association.  He was also the staffer, back in the early 2000s, who was dispatched to Philadelphia by then-executive director David Fay to break the news to Merion that it was no longer a candidate to host an Open.


Once at Merion, Davis saw enough to convince him otherwise.  He returned to Golf House and informed his boss that he thought the conventional wisdom was wrong, that if everybody put their heads together, Merion was up to the task.


Within months, Fay made his own trip to Merion, played the course, and came around to Davis’ way of thinking.  Together, they convinced the Executive Committee of the USGA.


Now, Fay is gone, and the Open at Merion has become Davis’ baby.  The master plan, or the vision, is in his head.  It was also Davis who told Merion superintendent Matt Shaffer how to prepare the course, and Davis who sets it up each day.  So far, Davis is looking very, very smart.


Phil Mickelson has the lead, with an opening round of 3-under 67, on a day that he felt Merion played as easy as it possibly could.  It seems unlikely that anybody is going to go truly low, embarrassing Merion in the process.


From the looks of things, Merion is going to hold up just fine.  The Open is off to a good start.

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Thanks, Golf Channel, for reminding us what the Open is about
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
By Joe Logan

How about a round of applause for Golf Channel for Monday’s wall-to-wall coverage of U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying, which they dubbed "Golf’s Longest Day."


Starting with their "Morning Drive" show until they signed off at midnight from Merion GC, Golf Channel had reporters filing live reports from all 11 Sectional Qualifying sites.  I don’t know about you, but I checked in a bunch of times throughout the day, then settled in last night for three or four straight hours.


What they captured was precisely what I like about the Open  -- that it’s open, at least to anybody with a 1.4 USGA index or better.  If you’ve got the game and a check for $150, sign up and give it your best shot.


Yesterday, like every year, there were stories of joy and triumph and there were stories of heartbreak and disappointment.  One of those guys coming up just short was 18-year-old Brandon Matthews, who has been a standout on Temple’s golf team all year.


At the 36th hole at Century CC in Purchase, N.Y., Matthews was forced to take an unplayable lie, just off the green.  He figured he needed to get up-and-down to perhaps get into a playoff, or qualify as an alternate for the Open.  Instead, Matthews proceeded to hit a flop shot into the hole, for a 67, and what appeared to be a spot in the field at Merion.  Alas, a few holes behind him, another 18-year-old amateur, Gavin Hall, birdied the final four holes to deny Matthews’ dream.

Brandon MatthewsBrandon Matthews
(Photo: USGA)


For every sad story, there were stories of success – Gavin Hall, for example.  Golf Channel was all over them.


Unless you see these things play out, it’s easy to forget that the best stories from the Open often come from the journey to get there, not the actual championship.  Few of these Monday qualifiers will make the 36-hole cut at Merion.   We’ve seen them time and time again – guys who shot 67-68 to get into the Open then shoot 81-82 once they get there.


I’ve interviewed a hundred of them over the years.  They’re amateurs like Brandon Matthews and Gavin Hall, or club pros who give it a shot every year.  It’s the pressure, or the grand stage, or maybe they just spent everything they had in the Qualifier.  Even when they miss the cut by a mile, they generally have one thing in common: a smile on their face.


So what if they missed the cut?  They made it into a U.S. Open and, at least for a week, got treated like golfing royalty.  They get that sense of accomplishment and they get the excitement of sharing the experience with their friends and families.  They get issued player’s badge, which they can keep for the rest of their lives, and they often get assigned a locker three or four lockers down from Tiger or Phil or Rory.  It’s all they can do not to jump up and down like a kid on Christmas morning.  For most of these guys, making it to the Open is a dream come true, the highlight of their golfing life.  Even if they miss they cut, you can never take that a way from them.


So, thanks, Golf Channel, for reminding us of what the Open is all about. 

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Professor Joe Bausch 
Bausch Collection adds 12 more course galleries
Friday, May 31, 2013
By Joe Logan

There is no grass growing under Joe Bausch’s feet.


Okay, that’s corny, I know, but Bausch, our resident golf addict and course photographer, has recently uploaded another dozen courses to the Bausch Collection, our ever-growing archive of course photo galleries.  He’s now up to more than 160 courses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.  So far as I can tell, this is the most comprehensive collection of golf course photos anywhere in the Philadelphia region.


I was delighted to hear from one MyPhillyGolf regular reader that he uses the Bausch Collection exactly as Joe and I envision it – as resource material and a reference guide.  The guy I was talking to is the general manager of a club in the area.  A while back, when he was in the midst of a job search, he would go directly to the Bausch Collection whenever someone mentioned a certain course or club that might be hiring.  I’ve talked to other people who wouldn’t think of playing a course without first checking it out through the Bausch Collection.


As I written several times before, Joe doesn’t do this for a living; he’s chemistry professor a Villanova.   But golf and documenting each new course he plays is his passion.  Joe is also heavily involved in the restoration of Cobbs Creek GC through Friends of Cobbs Creek.  He’s in these two videos I did about the restoration effort (Part 1, Part 2).


Joe is an equal opportunity photographer.  He plays and shoots the best of the best (Merion) and he plays and shoots plenty of the working-man’s courses (Twining Valley).  Basically, he never met a course he didn’t want to photograph.


The most recent additions are:

The Architects Club

Bala GC

Gilbertsville GC

Green Valley CC

Hawk Valley GC

Northampton Valley CC

Overbrook GC

Philadelphia Cricket – St. Martin’s

Rolling Turf GC

Sea Oaks GC

Twining Valley GC

Worcester GC



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A few quick observations about the í71 Open rebroadcast
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
By Joe Logan

Watching all three hours of last night’s rebroadcast of the 1971 U.S. Open playoff between Jack Nicklaus and eventually winner Lee Trevino at Merion was like climbing into a time machine.  I felt like Marty McFly in "Back to the Future."


A few observations:


-- Jack Nicklaus might be the greatest player of all time but you could grow a 5 o’clock shadow for him to pull the trigger over a putt.  I mean, come on, I don’t know how he survived his career without back problems.  Every putt, as Jack leaned over the ball for an eternity, I was wondering:  What is he waiting for?  What is he thinking about?  Do you think he knows or cares that we’re all going bonkers?


-- I had forgotten what a unique, stylized yet fabulous and effective swing Lee Trevino had in his prime.  I could watch him for another three hours.


-- Even back then, the rough at Merion was impossibly thick, long and gnarly.  You could lose a small child in there.


-- How about those candy-apple wing-tippy saddle shoes?  They were quite the rage back then.  I had a pair myself, with the little flappy things.  I wore them all through high school and into college.  If my non-golf friends had seen them...well, I made sure they never did.


-- Did you catch the quick greenside interview with Trevino after the final round of regulation?  He said of Merion, "It’s a great golf course; it’s a thinking man’s golf course."  Not much has changed.


-- Even then, Merion was a pint-sized Open venue.   They said it was the first time the Open was a sellout.  They also said the gallery was limited to 14,000 per day because the grounds were limited to 126 acres.  This year, the gallery will be 25,000 per day.  Could be close quarters so make sure to bring your breath spray.


-- Even then, the predictions were that the pros would "tear old Merion apart."  "They certainly haven’t so far," said the commentator.   "Only one player is under par."


-- Finally, as my golf writer buddy Jeff Silverman just called to point out: How about those marshal uniforms?  Wow!  "Have you ever, in your life, seen anything so bad?" said Jeff. 

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Joe[5/30/2013 5:04:49 AM]
I wonít claim to be a golf historian. In that regard, I bow to my friend James W. Finegan. But I have played the game for 50 years and I am old enough to have watched Jack Nicklaus in his prime, and I was among those who resented him in real time when he dethroned Arnold Palmer. Iím also a huge fan of Jack Nicklaus. I have interviewed him often and I have the utmost respect for him as a man and as a father, and I revere his accomplishments as a player. Itís just that I think he took longer over a putt back then than he did later in his career -- or so it seemed as I watched that í71 playoff.
Andy Mous[5/30/2013 4:38:45 AM]
Joe, guess youíre not much of a golf historian, nor Nicklaus fan. it is fairly well known that Nicklaus took a long time over putts. His competitors were amazed that he could even pull the trigger after being over the putt so long. Not sure why it took a í71 Open rebroadcast for you to know that? Holing 5-6 footers on 15, 16 and 17 in the final round with the Open on the line were amazing. Imagine the hype had Tiger done that...

Golf Channel to air í71 Trevino-Nicklaus Open playoff at Merion
Sunday, May 26, 2013
By Joe Logan

Heads up because this could be good: Tuesday night (5/28) Golf Channel plans to rebroadcast the 18-hole Monday playoff between Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino in the 1971 U.S. Open at Merion.


The network says it’s the first time the since the tournament’s original airing that the playoff has been rebroadcast.  Trevino, of course, prevailed.


The playoff is best recalled because of the rubber snake Trevino pulled from his bag and tossed to Nicklaus on the first tee.


Below is the press release from Golf Channel:





Dan Hicks Takes Viewers Through Final Round and 18-hole Playoff on GOLF’S GREATEST ROUNDS, Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET


ORLANDO, Fla., May 24, 2013 – The 1971 U.S. Open at famed Merion Golf Club featured one of the more dramatic battles in U.S. Open history when Lee Trevino and Jack Nicklaus went toe-to-toe in an intense 18-hole Monday playoff to crown that year’s national champion.  For the first time since the tournament’s original airing in 1971, viewers will have the opportunity watch the drama and excitement unfold on television on GOLF’S GREATEST ROUNDS, Tuesday, May 28 at 8 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.


Golf Channel on NBC’s Dan Hicks will take viewers through the dramatic showdown between Trevino and Nicklaus at Merion Golf Club, featuring action from Sunday’s final round and Monday’s 18-hole playoff.  Missing a six-footer on the 72nd hole to win in regulation, Trevino fell into a tie with Nicklaus and forced a Monday playoff.  The tension on the first tee was thick but soon lifted as the ever-playful Trevino pulled a rubber snake from his golf bag, held it up for the gathered crowd to see and tossed it at Nicklaus, who broke out laughing.


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Chris Patton 
An iconic Open champion for Merion, pretty please
Monday, May 20, 2013
By Joe Logan

As part of the Inquirer’s on-going run-up to the U.S. Open at Merion, my former Inquirer colleague Joe Juliano has a nice story in the Sunday sports section on Chis Patton, who won the U.S. Amateur on the East Course in 1989.


Patton is an interesting case.  In those days, the first thing you noticed about him was that he was enormous – you couldn’t help but notice.  Patton was 300 pounds and he was all doughy and baby-faced, hardly the stereotype image of a champion athlete.  His soft outer shell turned out to mask an inner strength and athleticism, as the kid from Clemson mowed down the competition at Merion in ’89. 


The second thing you noticed about Patton was that he was South Carolina farm kid with a drawl right out of  "The Dukes of Hazzard."


What I’m getting at here, delicately, is that Patton did not exactly fit the mold of the cavalcade of champions in Merion’s great past – at least not in outward appearance.  Merion is a very proper place and no member would be so boorish as to come right out and say that, or to acknowledge it beyond a wink, but ideally the club prefers its champions be a little more dashing, iconic and historic, like Ben Hogan and Bobby Jones.  


Merion seems to like its connection in history with Lee Trevino (’71 Open), because he turned out a great champion and a popular figure in the game; David Graham (’81 Open) seems to earn a measure of respect from Merion, even if you can’t really feel the love.  The club doesn’t quite seem to know what to make of Edoardo Molinari (’05 Amateur), or know whether it should even bother.


Chris Patton?  Well, your sandwich could go stale waiting for a Merion member to bring up his name, or, for that matter, by extension, the ’89 Amateur. On the occasions when I have taken it upon my self to broach the subject, say, over lunch, I’ve known Merion members to stare at their feet, or offer a blank expression, saying nothing while their eyes say everything. 


I offer you this priceless passage about Patton and the ’89 Amateur from Merion’s 2005  club history, Golf at Merion:


Scott Smith, Merion’s president at the time, remembers Patton requesting a lunch of three cheeseburgers, apple pie and vanilla ice cream.  He then asked to use a telephone and called home.  A portion of the short conversation has been reported as follows:

            "How’re ya doin’, son?"

"Guess you could say I’m winnin’, Mom.  Dad there?"

"Nope.  He’s out fishin."


As it happens, the first time I ever laid eyes on Merion was the Sunday afternoon of that final match, when Patton faced Danny Green, a Tennessee riverboat gambler of a golfer, with a weird, slapshot golf swing.   Green had taken down favorite son Jay Sigel in the semifinals. It’s debatable whether a victory by Green would have been any easier for Merion to swallow.


This was seven years before I started covering golf for the Inquirer.   In fact, I wasn’t even playing much golf at the time; my kids were little, only two and four years old at the time, and I was lucky go get in a round or two a year.  My clubs spent long stretches in the hall closet.


That didn’t mean I didn’t watch golf on TV or obsess about golf.  When I saw that the Amateur was coming to town, I had to try to get over to Merion, which I’d heard so much about.  I didn’t know or care who was in the finals; I just wanted a golf fix.


I first spotted Patton from Ardmore Avenue, as he made his way up the 12th fairway toward the green.  It was a hot and muggy and Patton showed the strain of the summer heat and the heat of competition in what is perhaps the most demanding championship in golf.  You’ve got to hand it to Patton: he pulled it off.


Patton eventually turned pro and bounced around the mini tours for 14 years.  He never made it to the PGA Tour and when he retired from competition in 2004, he returned home yo Fountain Inn, S.C.. where he works on his family’s farm.  Patton is happy and fulfilled; he only plays a handful of rounds a year, and he doesn’t really miss game.


By 1999, I was covering golf, when Casey Martin’s lawsuit against the PGA Tour was in the news.  I went down to a Nike Tour event in Pompano Beach, Fla.,  to do a story.  On the range one day, it was Patton, who was trying to make a comeback from an injury, who caught my eye.


He was still very big man then, although not the 300 pounds he had been when he won the Amateur at Merion.  I just remember watching as he went about the business of limbering up and hitting balls before his round.  Much to my surprise,  Patton bent and stretched in ways that I sure couldn’t.  Once he began to work his way through his stack of balls, it was clear he had a pure, sweet golf swing that is the rare gift of the natural athlete.


In Joe Juliano’s piece, Patton had nice things to say about Merion, remembering it as a course where the rough is brutal but winning is all about placement, position tee shots off the tee and approach shots into the correct area of the green.


For serious Merion-watchers, it is impossible not to wonder who will win the U.S. Open and  join the select club of "Merion champions."


They would kill for Tiger Woods to win, or Phil Mickelson.  Adam Scott looked good in a Masters green jacket and winning the second leg of the Grand Slam at Merion would be a dream come true for all involved.


Remember, this is more than about winning the Open, this is about becoming part of Merion history.




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