The US Open tees off shortly at Merion Golf Club, near Philadephia, Pennsylvania. This is the fifth US Open hosted by the Club, previous winners including Hogan, Trevino and most recently Australia’s own David Graham in 1981. One of the unique features of the course are the use of red wicker baskets on top of the pins instead of flags. The baskets have been used for almost 100 years on the course. Legend has it that course designer Hugh Wilson, was inspired by the wicker lunch baskets that Scottish shepherds used. Why Wilson chose baskets instead of the simple flag is still a mystery but its reasoned that he believed the baskets could be seen from any angle on the hole, and provided an additional challenge by removing the guide to the direction of the wind. One quirky local rule is if a ball happens to embed in the basket, the player can remove the ball and place on the edge of the hole for a tap in.
The baskets have become an iconic element to the Merion layout which features highly in the top courses in the world and received accolades from Jack Nicklaus – “Acre for acre, it may be the best test of golf in the world.”
With the amount of rain that Merion has had over the last few days, the wicker baskets may be required to act as buoys to indicate where the greens are!