ARDMORE, Pa. — As the U.S. Open trophy sparkled in the fading Sunday sunlight and the smiling champion attached to it, Justin Rose, posed for the cameras, you had to wonder whether such a scene would ever be repeated at Merion Golf Club.
It’s not that the old course didn’t give the golf world everything it wanted during Open week. Rose’s victorious total of 1-over-par 281 proved that. The mystery of Merion’s greens went unsolved. The rough yielded little. And its myriad hazards had nearly as many visitors as the Merchandise Tent.
Throughout American golf’s premier event, broadcasters, journalists and many of the players heaped praise on Merion as not only a historic Open venue but a more-than-worthy one.
For an aging course whose potency had been questioned for decades, it was a welcome shot of energy.
But now that the cleaning, the disassembling, the restoration has begun there, now that the Open euphoria has abated, an uncomfortable question remains. It is, ironically, the same question asked 32 years ago when another U.S. Open concluded there:
Will short, compact Merion ever host another one?
“As great as this week was, I think the U.S. Open has kind of moved past one of these venues,” said Brandt Snedeker who, perhaps not coincidentally, finished at 10-over-par 290.
“It’s been great to be a part of,” he added. “I love the history here, man. It’s awesome. But there’s so much more that goes into the U.S. Open than just the golf, from an infrastructure standpoint, from the fan standpoint, from the whole global marketing standpoint ... I think this tournament needs more space to put on a championship in the right way.”
The U.S. Golf Association, feeling vindicated both by the modest winning score and the overwhelmingly positive response to its “Boutique Open”, will, of course, be tactfully noncommittal until it can crunch the numbers.