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Merion Golf Club (East Course): Weird Flagsticks, World Class Golf Course

Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, is quite simply one of the very best golf courses in the world. In fact, it’s also one of my personal favorites, as I have it ranked #3 in my top 100 golf courses list.

Situated on only 126 acres, it’s also widely considered to be the best golf courses in the world on such a small plot of land.

It was the first round we played on our Philadelphia golf trip, and by a pretty wide margin – the best.

If you’ve followed this site, you know that I have a love for “fun” holes – and the vast majority of the holes on this course are a blast.

Short par 4s, risk/reward on nearly every hole, and history that’s tough to match.

Merion Hole 7

The approach on hole #7 at Merion

Merion Hole 8

The approach on #8 at Merion.

It’s safe to say Merion lived up to it’s expectations and then some. As I was going through my favorite holes of the trip, it was tough to not just make it one giant list of Merion holes.

Memorable Moments We Had at Merion Golf Club:

  • The peanut butter, jelly, and bacon sandwiches at the turn. Yes, you read that right. They stole the idea from Friar’s Head, and they are amazing. 
  • Getting a tour of the archive room. Inside we saw Ben Hogan’s practice clubs from the 1950 US Open, Justin Rose’s driver from the 2013 open, original blueprints of the holes, pins and memrobilia from every major tournament ever hosted and more.
  • Puring my 3 wood on the first tee, which sits right next to where all of the members dine.
  • Shooting a respectable 84 on what’s known as the toughest short(ish) course in the world.
  • Merion may have the best showers in the world. It’s like being under an Amazonian waterfall. I’ve now adopted Graylyn’s concept of also testing out the showers on some of the world’s finest courses 🙂

Merion lived up to extremely high expectations, and quite possibly even exceeded them. It will easily make the top 5 courses I’ve played, and I just hope I have the opportunity to play it again in the future.

Merion Hole 11

The approach on number 11 at Merion

Merion Hole 4

The nervewracking appraoch on the par 5 4th at Merion. This is one of only two par 5s on the course, and the last on you’ll see.

Merion Patrick Hole 2

PJK himself teeing off on #2 at Merion.

 

 

Merion Golf Club Flag Sticks

One of the most notable things about Merion Golf Club is their lack of traditional flagsticks. Instead they use wicker baskets. No one knows the true origin of the wicker basket flag sticks but a number of theories are out there. 

One being that course architect Hugh Wilson happened upon local sheep herders in England while studying courses in the area. They used wicker baskets to put their lunches in so that animals couldn’t steal it. He liked the idea, so he kept it!

Not sure if I buy the story, but it’s a very cool feature for a very cool club.

The one and only @pjkoenig and I looking clueless at Merion with the famed wicker basket flag stick.

The one and only @pjkoenig and I looking clueless at Merion with the famed wicker basket flag stick.

Merion Golf Club Renovation

In 2018 the East Course at Merion Golf Club closed for the better part of a year so that Gil Hanse and his team could perform restoration work. This included a number of changes, with some of the most notable being:

  • The bunker at the dogleg on #14
  • Softening the slope of the green on #5
  • And a new elevated teebox on #2 that makes the hole nearly 40 yards longer.

Overall the changes are subtle, but reports since it reopened are that the course is even better than it once was.

Check out the other courses from our Philly Trip:




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