The golf courses that host U.S. Opens are always modified in some way from their usual set-up in order to create a greater challenge for the world's greatest golfers. Typically, this means growing the rough a bit higher, mowing the greens a bit shorter, and building new tee boxes to lengthen certain holes. But for next week's U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club, the United States Golf Association has decided to move a fairway.
If you've ever driven down Ardmore Avenue you've seen Merion's 2nd hole, a long, uphill 556-yard, par-5 beast that runs along the right side of the road if you are traveling towards Ardmore. Ardmore Avenue plays as out-of-bounds, which means if a player hits his tee shot onto the road, he has to re-tee and now, he's hitting his third shot. And he's still 556 yards from the hole.
The USGA however, said no, this isn't tough enough, we're going to move the fairway closer to Ardmore Avenue and out-of-bounds, making it a serious consideration for Tiger, Phil and the Gang as they figure out how to navigate their way around Merion. Fortunately for the players, Ardmore Ave is lined with large trees [see image above], so if they are lucky, they may get a ricochet back into the fairway.
It is going to be incredibly interesting to see how the players choose to play Merion and the 2nd hole is just one example.
T.R. Goyne, formerly of the old-school ballssticksstuff.com can be followed @doctomg.