Veteran Course Manager calls Course "edgy, fast, firm"

June 11, 2013 in Alumni

Shaffer says Merion will be a test for U.S. Open field as long as Mother Nature doesn’t play

Merion Golf Club Director of Golf Course Management Matt Shaffer recently was having lunch with USGA Executive Director Mike Davis when Phil Mickelson interjected himself into the conversation, gushing about the venue for the 113th U.S. Open.

“It was great to hear,” the 32-year GCSAA member said. “But deep down inside I knew we weren’t quite ready. You can peak too early in this business. We want to be at our best the week of the Open. And Mother Nature willing, we will be there.”

In Shaffer’s mind, trial runs with the 2005 U.S. Amateur and the 2009 Walker Cup have answered the question that many have been asking since Merion was awarded the Open.

Answering the Question 

Can the golf course withstand the best the world has to offer?

“I know that the length of the course is a concern for some when compared to recent venues, but the greens, bunker complexes and rough will offset the lack of length, in my opinion,” Shaffer says. “All bets are off if we get significant rain, because these guys are so good, and they can go at the flags.”

Because Merion has not hosted an Open since 1981 and because it is not a PGA Tour venue, Shaffer thinks course newbies will be surprised. He said just under a dozen qualifiers have played within the past few weeks, and the response has been resoundingly positive.

“This is so unlike anything they play regularly, so to them it is different. They had fun playing it – although I am not sure how much fun it will be when the spotlight is on them and thousands of people are here.”

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