This Year’s U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club Will Have Wicker Baskets Instead of Flags

The 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club not only will be retro in the fact that it’ll be the first time in 8 years that our nation’s championship will be played on a course under 7,000 yards, but also in that there will be wicker baskets instead of flags on the greens.  Who, what, huh?

The Merion Golf Club website explains the reasoning of wicker baskets as follows:

“The wicker baskets’ origin is a mystery to this day. There was a great deal written in 1912, and for three years thereafter, locally and nationally about this new course in Philadelphia. However, there was no mention of the soon-to-be famous wicker baskets. It could be assumed they were not there. By the summer of 1915, William Flynn, Merion’s Superintendent, received patent approval for his wicker basket design. Merion had baskets that fall and from then-to-today. It could be assumed, due to lack of written proof, that Flynn convinced Wilson to use the baskets, and Merion received its “basket notoriety” the next year during the 1916 U.S. Amateur.”

Not quite the most concrete of reasons why, but yeah, basically it’s tradition, and I applaud the USGA for keeping with that old school style for this year’s Open.

The funny part about the wicker baskets is that the only time that they weren’t used at Merion for the U.S. Open was the most famous Opens of them all- the 1950 U.S. Open, when Ben Hogan hit that famed 1-iron into the 18th green on Sunday to force a playoff.  Hogan of course then went on to win the next day just 16 months after the horrific car crash in which doctors told him he’d never walk again, let alone play golf or compete at the highest level.

My pick for the first player to hit a wicker basket on the fly, only to have the ball ricochet inauspiciously into a precarious lie in the deep rough off the green?  Well, Sergio Garcia of course (he said it years ago at the British Open, he’s playing against “more than just the field”). #woeisme

Also, be sure to click here to check out this year’s U.S. Open betting odds.


Joel Harrington





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