6 pounds, 512 pages 
New book: Merion: The Championship Story

By Joe Logan
Published December 13, 2013

When writer Jeff Silverman signed on to update Merion Golf Club’s club history, neither he nor Merion had in mind a 512-page, six-pound behemoth that will likely set a new standard for club histories.  But four years later, that’s what they got.


Merion: The Championship Story, emblazoned with the club’s distinctive logo on the cover and a treasure trove of stories and memories on the inside, is hot off the presses, 5½ months after the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, the fifth Open at Merion, provided Silverman a fitting and fabulous final chapter.


"It’s the crowning achievement of my career – so far," joked Silverman, of Chadds Ford, a professor at Villanova, book editor and contributing editor at Golf World magazine.


The book grew out of a story Silverman wrote for Philadelphia magazine in 2008 on how Merion, which had fallen out of grace with the U.S. Golf Association, "rose from the dead" to host the 2005 U.S. Amateur, the 2009 Walker Cup and the organization’s crown jewel, the U.S. Open, in 2013.


The result is a book that is not merely a vanity project intended only for the members of Merion, but rather a readable feast for golfers everywhere who appreciate the East Course and the rich history of a club that has hosted 18 USGA championships, more than any other club in America.


The book ($125, plus $15 for shipping and handling) is available online through Merion and the Golf Association of Philadelphia.


Here is an 8-minute video interview with Silverman.



When Silverman undertook the book in 2010, he and Merion both envisioned on a year-long project, a basic update of the club history that would include the 2005 U.S. Amateur and the 2009 Walker Cup.  But the more Silverman examined what had been covered in the two previous club histories, and the more he immersed himself in Merion’s wealth of historical archives, the more convinced he became that this book ought to be more.


"What I found out early on was that the championship stories had never been told right," said Silverman.  "Each one of them was better, and each one of them had more threads of drama than I knew."


With Merion’s blessing, the book became a four-year project that doubled in size.


Silverman interviewed anybody and everybody – at least any former champion that was still alive and would talk to him, and anybody else with a hint of an insight or interesting anecdote to tell.  Along the way, he debunked a few old myths and uncovered a few new details.


Among the most cooperative was ’71 Open champion Trevino, who beat Jack Nicklaus and made his name at Merion.  "I fell in love," Trevino told Silverman four decades after the fact.  "I absolutely fell in love with that golf course."


The most comprehensive accounts are naturally the chapters devoted to Jones’ Grand Slam in 1930, Ben Hogan’s legendary win in the 1950 Open, and the most recent Open, for which Silverman was able to do first-hand, real-time reporting.  Every day, he roamed the golf course and the media center like a man on a mission.


Silverman also relished reporting and researching the lesser-known USGA championships Merion has hosted, such as the 1989 U.S. Amateur, won by rotund Chris Patton, and the 1998 U.S. Girls Junior, won by Leigh Anne Hardin, both of whom have drifted away from serious, competitive golf.  Still, they are part of the parade of champions at Merion, part of the Merion family.


Now, in his own way, Silverman becomes part of the Merion family. 





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