In that sense, golf is no different than widget manufacturing. Money talks. History walks.
But remember that the USGA conceded before coming to Merion, with its 25,000-a-day crowd restriction and its smaller corporate and concession footprint, that it would earn as much as $10 million less than the typical Open, according to USGA sources.
Since it is that revenue that supports everything the august USGA does, don’t be fooled into thinking Merion’s difficulty as a golf course guaranteed it another Open.
Beyond Merion itself this week, of course, there were plenty of logistical headaches around the event’s edges: Parking and traffic problems; Moving even a limited crowd through such a claustrophobic layout; and, maybe most significantly for its fate as future venue, having to set up the practice range and players facilities at Merion West, 11/2 miles down the road.
“Obviously that’s not ideal,” said Adam Scott about what caused many of his colleagues to feel less than at home on the range. “They have to weigh up whether that’s a big enough factor for them to have it here or not.”
Like most Open course, Merion, for all the drama, double-bogeys and praise it elicited, managed to make a lot of enemies. Some players complained about out-of-bounds that was in-range on 15. Others hated the punishing rough, or the slick greens, or the crazy pin positions.
“It’s going to be a tearful, tearful sight,” said golfer and Golf Network analyst Aaron Oberholtzer of the 2013 Open’s conclusion. “There are going to be tears of joy — not only for winning, but that it’s finally over. This has been a brutal test and these guys can’t wait to get on a plane to get home.”
Yet there were plenty of others who felt this nostalgic return to the site of so much golfing history was worth any price.