I live fairly close to Merion CC and will be at the event almost every day.
Is everyone here aware of the changes made to the course over the past couple of years? They made a few changes that will essentially lengthen a few holes and/or make scoring harder.
#1. The old members putting green was taken out so that they could change the angle of attack from the #1 tee, plus to lengthen the 14th hole. They also placed a tree on the right side of the #1 tee box that, depending on where they place the markers, will take out the "up and over" bomb aimed at the green.
#2 now has a cross bunker at about 40-50 yards short of the green, thus requiring a layup for most players.
#3 will play at about 250 yards. Much longer than in 71' and 81', but the same as for the recent Walker Cup.
#4, the second of the two par 5's needed no changes. Almost everyone will be playing their 2nd shot as a blind shot from either the left rough or left side of the fairway. With Darby Creek crossing in front of the heavily bunkered green, most players will lay up.
#5, again, no change needed. Long par 4 that plays to all 504 yards. The green is so sloped there will certainly be some ugly scores on this hole.
#6 is a long par 4 uphill that can be played to 500 yards. With a scary blind tee shot this hole was already hard, but they took out 15 yards of fairway on the right hand side. They almost force the field to play driver into the narrow fairway because the fairways bunkers are at about 265 yards. To take them out you have to risk missing the narrow landing area.
#7 they moved the tee box back and to the left, forcing a lay up on this short par 4 to be aimed at the homes out of bounds on the right. Most players may try to bomb it down the left side into the green side trap, or just short of it. Good birdie opportunity.
#8 no changes. The hole gave up the most birdies in the 2005 US Am, but the field still played it in a 4.3 average. Miss this green left or long and you'll probably score 5.
#9 They created three new separate distinct tee boxes for this hole. They can play this par three shorter (by eye test, maybe as little as 225), or as long as 250 yards. With the pond short, the creek right, and bunkers everywhere else, this par 3 will make ffor tremendous action. Taking out the water leaves the player dead if he goes long.
Back 9 in separate upcoming post.