"I'm not used to taking long divots like I did today," Dugger said. ''Down in Texas, you hit and it's just - dust."
For many of the 312 golfers playing in the United States Golf Association's Amateur Championship this week, Monday's practice round at Merion was akin to a pilgrimage.
Jim Stahl of Cincinnati entered his region's qualifying tournament for just the third time in 20 years in hopes of advancing to play Merion. The course exceeded his expectations.
"There's nothing like this in Cincinnati," said Stahl, 50, after his round Monday. "Nothing like it in any of the other 50 states either.
"I love it so much I played 36 straight holes yesterday. That's 72 in a day and a half, and if I can find someone to tee off with now, I'll play 18 more."
The lure of Merion transcends American golf, as well. Takahiro Nakagawa of Japan flew to California last month to play his first U. S. Amateur qualifier at age 29.
"Merion - that's the reason," Nakagawa said through his caddie- interpreter.
It is unlikely these golfers were attracted by Merion's own strain of blue grass, its tufted bunkers or the old quarry that sits like a bowl of salad in front of the 16th green.
More likely, they had heard of the great golfers who played historic rounds here: Lee Trevino nipping Jack Nicklaus in a playoff for the 1971 U. S. Open; Ben Hogan completing his comeback from a near-fatal car crash to win the Open in 1950.
However, it is not the U. S. Open that stands out sharpest in Merion's tradition. Rather, it is the Amateur, in particular that of 1930, when a dapper Georgia lawyer, Bobby Jones, enthralled the Main Line and the golf world during a week that has never been duplicated.
The 64 golfers who survived rounds of regular stroke play Tuesday and yesterday will continue today in a different format, playing head-to-head, hole-by-hole match play until just two golfers remain on Sunday.
But as their spikes perforate the fairways, these golfers will follow the trail of the legend named Jones.
By the time Jones arrived in Philadelphia the Wednesday before the 1930 U. S. Amateur, he was familiar with Merion and with winning.
His first national tournament was the 1916 Amateur at Merion. An apple- cheeked but ornery 14-year-old, he astounded the golf world by lasting to the quarter-final round.
Eight years later, the first of his record five Amateur titles came at Merion, a year after he captured his first major tournament, the 1923 U. S. Open. Between 1925 and 1930, Jones added 10 more national championships, including three U. S. Amateurs.
In May 1930, he returned to a ticker-tape parade down Broadway in New York City, having won the British Amateur at St. Andrews and the British Open at Hoylake, two of the tournaments that then made up the Grand Slam of golf. In early July, he added the third leg, the U. S. Open at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn.
Despite all this success, Jones probably never expected the fan reaction that greeted him at Merion. Nor the media reaction.
The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, which eventually assigned 16 sportswriters to Jones, covered his arrival at 30th Street Station and his trip to a local osteopath for treatment of a crick in his shoulder.
Jones' first practice round at Merion that Wednesday attracted 4,000 spectators. He shot a 73, often having to send the ball through a 30-foot
alley walled by spectators.
When his score dropped to 78 Thursday, in front of a similar throng, he decided to escape Friday to Pine Valley, in New Jersey. But the crowds found him there, too, so he returned to Merion on Saturday and shot 74 before 5,000 people. He was going to take off Sunday, the final practice day, until then- USGA president Findlay Douglas, whose association was reaping $1 gate fees, persuaded him otherwise. As fortune would have it, the round of 69 he shot on his would-be off day boded well for Jones.
On Sept. 22, the first day of the tournament, Jones was assigned a cordon of 50 Marines who accompanied him around another 69-shot round, the low for the day.
"There are about 5,000 well-fed folks who apparently have nothing else to do except tag around after Mr. Jones and say 'Ah,' every time he sinks one," a Bulletin columnist wrote. Then, a paragraph later: "Jones has the crowd under perfect control - all he has to do is grab a stick and the mob signs off."
With a 73 on Tuesday, Jones became the low qualifier in a field trimmed to 31. With the start of match play Wednesday, he dispatched one opponent in the morning and one in the afternoon, both with relative ease.
"The Georgia gentleman still has the floor," the Bulletin wrote.
By Thursday, the newspaper was calling Jones the Scourge of Atlanta and analyzing the golfer's luncheon habits. "Bobby Jones eats less than any contestant remaining in the national golf tournament," the paper said definitively. "But he smokes as he pleases."
Apparently Jones chainsmoked the week away, puffing one cigarette while teeing off, a second as he walked the fairway and a third on the green, resting the butt within inches of the ball as he putted.
On Friday, after a semi-close round with seasoned golfer Jess Sweetser of New York, Jones was being called Par Express. The crowds had grown to about 10,000, an unheard-of size. "He's been so far ahead of the rest of the pack, they ought to take his clubs away and make him go the rest of the way with an umbrella handle," the paper said.
For the final that Saturday against Eugene Holman, of Englewood, N. J., 9,000 spectators showed up for the morning round, in which Jones outstroked his younger opponent on seven holes. When he also won the 10th hole to take an 8-hole lead, it meant Holman would have to win each succeeding hole, lest Jones win mathematically.
By the time Jones reached the picturesque 11th hole, the gallery had doubled to 18,000. Both golfers landed drives at the base of a sloped fairway. Shooting at a small green crossed in front by two streams of Cobbs Creek, Jones pitched to a point 20 feet before the hole, Holman to 18 feet above it. Jones putted first, leaving the ball 10 inches from the pin.
Holman needed a birdie to stay alive. His putt rolled for the hole but swerved right at the last moment. As Holman rushed to shake Jones' hand, conceding the match, the crowd went wild. The Marines circled the players and moved them across Ardmore Avenue to the clubhouse.
The next day's newspapers reported some dismal events: suicides linked to despair over the Depression and the pledge of the "fast-rising German fascist" Adolf Hitler to denounce the Treaty of Versailles should his Nazi Party gain power.
But both were pushed off the front pages by the remarkable accomplishment of Jones - a Grand Slam victory culminated at Merion Golf Club.
Two months later, with no more worlds to conquer, Bobby Jones retired from competitive golf.
On Tuesday morning at the 11th tee, contestants in the 1989 U. S. Amateur stopped to read the plaque commemorating Jones' 1930 Grand Slam.
"It's intimidating because of the tradition," said Pat Carrigan of Los Angeles. "You stand on the tee, and you know who has played here before, and you know none of them had it easy. So it's intimidating."
The tradition that Merion fosters was very much in evidence throughout the opening round of play. Members seated on the veranda, a mere club length from the first tee, sent the amateurs on their way with healthy applause. Caddies carefully handled the pins with the pear-shaped wicker baskets the club prefers to flags.
The tradition, it was obvious, is being perpetuated as Merion hosts a new generation of avid golfers.
"What this is all about is amateur golf," said C. Meade Geisel Jr., club president and general chairman of the tournament. "This is a course with more history in amateur golf than any other in the country. Particularly with the
college kids who are here, who may or may not go on the professional tour, they may not ever get to play a course like this again. They will see courses a lot longer, but I've heard some of them say already that it's the toughest 6,500 hundred yards they've ever played.
"They have to think their way around the course, and that's what we're trying to give to them, a traditional style of golf that is a thinking experience. That's what the members here strive to preserve."
Standing off the 18th green under a perfect sky, Geisel had reason to be proud. The course, cared for by superintendent Richie Valentine, looked every bit the golfing jewel it long has been considered.
"The course seems to have peaked at the right time," Geisel said.
David Rush, an Indiana high school senior-to-be and the youngest tournament entrant, had another way of putting it after he finished his first round.
"It was awesome," he said.