Plan in case of flooding at Merion

Posted: June 11, 2013

IF YOU'VE BEEN checking those 10-day weather forecasts, and the folks from Merion and the USGA obviously have, then you know there's at least some chance of more rain, especially between Monday and Friday. Which is worth noting if you're worried about how it could impact the 113th U.S. Open, which begins Thursday morning on the East Course of Ardmore's Merion Golf Club.

Mother Nature is the one thing the USGA can't control. And yes, it's a good thing all the wet stuff that hit on Friday came a week early. A record for the date of 3.5 inches of rain fell at Philadelphia International Airport on Friday.

But just in case the conditions would get out of hand at any point, the folks running this championship do have a "doomsday" scenario in place.

Sources have confirmed that three holes on the West Course, which sits just over a mile up Ardmore Avenue, are being prepared in case the greens on holes No. 11 and 12 get flooded out.

Both holes, but particularly the putting surface on 11, sit in the lowest-lying area of the property, where Cobbs Creek (which has been widened) comes into play. The water has overflowed the protective rock walls before. So in case it happens again . . . well, mulligan anyone?

The fourth green, which is a fairway away from 12, also sits close to a stream. So as many as three holes on the West Course actually could be needed. Again, for absolutely worst-case (think Noah and the Ark) purposes only. The West Course is where the temporary driving range and locker-room facilities also have been built.

USGA executive director Mike Davis told Golf Digest magazine in its preview issue that the chances of any of this happening is "very, very remote." He also said the players would not see the replacement holes in the practice rounds. It will be interesting to see how they figure out the routing. But we'll probably never know.

We knew the logistics would be different at Merion. Maybe we just didn't know exactly how much. This would be a precedent nobody wants to see.

The U.S. Open, of course, is the only championship that always seemed determined to keep people there as long as necessary to properly crown a champion.

There's an 80 percent chance of rain today, 60 percent on Tuesday and 40 percent on Thursday. The rest of the week looks relatively clear. But we did get deluged last Friday. So keep your whatevers crossed. Or plan to take a shuttle.

Open sold out

The USGA announced yesterday that all tickets for the U.S. Open at Merion are sold out. It is the 27th consecutive year that the Open has been a sellout.

"The tremendous response from golf fans in the Philadelphia area, across the country and around the world demonstrates the public's excitement about the U.S. Open coming back to Merion," said Thomas J. O'Toole Jr., USGA vice president and championship committee chairman. "We appreciate the loyalty of U.S. Open spectators and are confident that this year's championship will provide a very memorable experience for all attendees."

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