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BruceMGF

Merion, the Yale Bowl, and Butler Fieldhouse

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Did anyone else think the Bob Costas bit comparing Merion to the Yale Bowl and Butler Fieldhouse missed the mark?

I thought the question about Merion was whether the course could still be challenging to modern players, or more precisely players hitting modern golf balls with modern clubs.  That the winner would be 27 under par or something like that.  Obviously it is still plenty challenging, or at least can be made to be.

Costas thought playing at Merion was like playing the NCAA Final Four at Butler Fieldhouse or the Super Bowl game at the Yale Bowl.

But there's nothing about those venues that would affect the actual playing of the sport, is there?   The knock against those would be they wouldn't hold the expected number of specators or accomodate the modern media presence.  I see no reason why the games themselves would be unplayable at those places, or why there would be any question why they would be.  Nothing wrong with the playing surfaces.  (In fact, Butler still plays at Butler Fieldhouse, so college basketball is obviously still playable there.)

At Merion, the USGA chose to accept a reduced number of spectators.  I don't think the media was inconvenienced.  The TV coverage seemed unaffected.

I think Costas was comparing apples to oranges.

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Didn't see the bit, but I would have to agree with you. The comparison would be more accurate if the field at the Yale Bowl was only 75 yards long.

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Originally Posted by BruceMGF

Did anyone else think the Bob Costas bit comparing Merion to the Yale Bowl and Butler Fieldhouse missed the mark?

I thought the question about Merion was whether the course could still be challenging to modern players, or more precisely players hitting modern golf balls with modern clubs.  That the winner would be 27 under par or something like that.  Obviously it is still plenty challenging, or at least can be made to be.

Costas thought playing at Merion was like playing the NCAA Final Four at Butler Fieldhouse or the Super Bowl game at the Yale Bowl.

But there's nothing about those venues that would affect the actual playing of the sport, is there?   The knock against those would be they wouldn't hold the expected number of specators or accomodate the modern media presence.  I see no reason why the games themselves would be unplayable at those places, or why there would be any question why they would be.  Nothing wrong with the playing surfaces.  (In fact, Butler still plays at Butler Fieldhouse, so college basketball is obviously still playable there.)

At Merion, the USGA chose to accept a reduced number of spectators.  I don't think the media was inconvenienced.  The TV coverage seemed unaffected.

I think Costas was comparing apples to oranges.

Even at the reduced number, I can tell you that the spectators were inconvenienced. It was impossible to follow anybody, and just difficult in general to get around. Unless you parked yourself in a grandstand all day, it was hard to see any golf. I thought the setup was very unfair to people paying top dollar for a sporting event. If I wasn't marshalling and I didn't have inside-the-rope access, I wouldn't have gone near the place. Just getting there was a headache. I saw some great golf because of my access but, sometimes, myself and maybe a half dozen other people are the only ones who actually saw the shots live.

For this reason, Merion should never again have another Open, but there was already a rumor going around last night among the membership that the USGA will come back.

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Originally Posted by phan52

Even at the reduced number, I can tell you that the spectators were inconvenienced. It was impossible to follow anybody, and just difficult in general to get around. Unless you parked yourself in a grandstand all day, it was hard to see any golf. I thought the setup was very unfair to people paying top dollar for a sporting event. If I wasn't marshalling and I didn't have inside-the-rope access, I wouldn't have gone near the place. Just getting there was a headache. I saw some great golf because of my access but, sometimes, myself and maybe a half dozen other people are the only ones who actually saw the shots live.

For this reason, Merion should never again have another Open, but there was already a rumor going around last night among the membership that the USGA will come back.

Terrible way to look at it. The USGA should not base their decisions solely on spectator experience. Otherwise, they should just build a string of 18 football stadiums with holes in the middle.

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Originally Posted by geauxforbroke

Terrible way to look at it. The USGA should not base their decisions solely on spectator experience. Otherwise, they should just build a string of 18 football stadiums with holes in the middle.

That is ridiculous. Besides the fact that the USGA gave up about $10 million in revenue to have it at Merion, it was a poor experience for too many of the people who did attend. And BTW, no matter how much the USGA likes to tout their amateur status, they are all about money and the pros are the ones who make it go. The US Open is their cash cow. Without the fans wanting to see the best players in the world and spending a lot of money to do so, the tournament would just be some obscure event on the back of the sports pages. Professional sports don't exist without the fans.

It is all about access. They will get over 300,000 people at Pinehurst next year and most will have a great spectating experience.

Show me the money!

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Originally Posted by phan52

That is ridiculous. Besides the fact that the USGA gave up about $10 million in revenue to have it at Merion, it was a poor experience for too many of the people who did attend. And BTW, no matter how much the USGA likes to tout their amateur status, they are all about money and the pros are the ones who make it go.

If money is their largest concern, why hold the US Open at a course that you know will bring in lower revenues?

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Originally Posted by geauxforbroke

Terrible way to look at it. The USGA should not base their decisions solely on spectator experience. Otherwise, they should just build a string of 18 football stadiums with holes in the middle.

Originally Posted by phan52

That is ridiculous. Besides the fact that the USGA gave up about $10 million in revenue to have it at Merion, it was a poor experience for too many of the people who did attend. And BTW, no matter how much the USGA likes to tout their amateur status, they are all about money and the pros are the ones who make it go. The US Open is their cash cow. Without the fans wanting to see the best players in the world and spending a lot of money to do so, the tournament would just be some obscure event on the back of the sports pages. Professional sports don't exist without the fans.

It is all about access. They will get over 300,000 people at Pinehurst next year and most will have a great spectating experience.

Show me the money!

I don't think its ridiculous ... I tend to agree with goforbroke.  How much of their profit is driven by live attendance anyway?  Can't be that much if they chose to go to a place where they had to limit spectators and apparently are already talking about going back, can it?

And the fans are never not going to want to see the best players.  Less will be able to at tiny venues like this, but everybody is still going to want to.

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Originally Posted by phan52

That is ridiculous. Besides the fact that the USGA gave up about $10 million in revenue to have it at Merion, it was a poor experience for too many of the people who did attend. And BTW, no matter how much the USGA likes to tout their amateur status, they are all about money and the pros are the ones who make it go. The US Open is their cash cow. Without the fans wanting to see the best players in the world and spending a lot of money to do so, the tournament would just be some obscure event on the back of the sports pages. Professional sports don't exist without the fans.

It is all about access. They will get over 300,000 people at Pinehurst next year and most will have a great spectating experience.

Show me the money!

I agree, there have to be some reasons why USGA chose Merion (nostalgia, corruption, financial influx for PA etc) given it didn't offer a great fan experience and was going to generate less revenue than a better equipped venue.  I believe they said Saturday that there were 3 holes in a row that were like a ghost town because there wasn't any room for a gallery.

We'll probably never know the real reasons why the USGA chose Merion to host the US Open and the NFL selected NJ to host the next Superbowl.

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Originally Posted by newtogolf

I agree, there have to be some reasons why USGA chose Merion (nostalgia, corruption, financial influx for PA etc) given it didn't offer a great fan experience and was going to generate less revenue than a better equipped venue.  I believe they said Saturday that there were 3 holes in a row that were like a ghost town because there wasn't any room for a gallery.

We'll probably never know the real reasons why the USGA chose Merion to host the US Open and the NFL selected NJ to host the next Superbowl.

Cuz it's New frickin York, right? What other reason do they need?  The only downside, the only POTENTIAL downside, is bad weather during the game.  That's it.  Bad weather for the rest of the time would be no different than when they hold the game in Detroit or Indianapolis.  Well scratch that, it would be a lot different (but in a very good way) because you're in New York and not Michigan or Indiana.

But for any other reason, they would still factor in money, right?  Like, "well, we may lost a little cash on this, but the nostalgia factor will help us in the long run."  They're not going to pick a site that is detrimental to the future of the championship, and they're certainly not going to already be talking about doing it again, are they?

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Originally Posted by newtogolf

I agree, there have to be some reasons why USGA chose Merion (nostalgia, corruption, financial influx for PA etc) given it didn't offer a great fan experience and was going to generate less revenue than a better equipped venue.  I believe they said Saturday that there were 3 holes in a row that were like a ghost town because there wasn't any room for a gallery.

We'll probably never know the real reasons why the USGA chose Merion to host the US Open and the NFL selected NJ to host the next Superbowl.

It was obviously chosen because it's a difficult and historic course.

Besides, the "spectator experience" is all about TV coverage. 100,000 people went to the US Open over 4 days. Several million watched the NBC broadcast every day. Personally, I thought it was a great US Open, the coverage was great, and the course made it really interesting. So I would say that they were very successful making a good "spectator experience".

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Originally Posted by Golfingdad

Cuz it's New frickin York, right?    What other reason do they need?  The only downside, the only POTENTIAL downside, is bad weather during the game.  That's it.  Bad weather for the rest of the time would be no different than when they hold the game in Detroit or Indianapolis.  Well scratch that, it would be a lot different (but in a very good way) because you're in New York and not Michigan or Indiana.

But for any other reason, they would still factor in money, right?  Like, "well, we may lost a little cash on this, but the nostalgia factor will help us in the long run."  They're not going to pick a site that is detrimental to the future of the championship, and they're certainly not going to already be talking about doing it again, are they?

They can talk about it all they want. Maybe in another 30 years.

You had to be here to see the logistical nightmare on every level. The players needed a good half hour to get to the first tee from the range at the West Course. They talked a good game and said it didn't bother them but, come on, that's ridiculous. The fans had to walk to a remote gate to get shuttles to get to the range. The fact that nobody but marshals could see players drive on 15 and putt on 16. The lack of parking (one of the remote sites was closed for the week after Tuesday because it was a mucky, muddy mess). The only thing that worked was mass transit, but you had to pick the right station to use because full trains just roared by some of them.

Philly was starving for this and they were going to sell out regardless, but it wasn't fair. You should have seen the chaotic mess at 16-17-18 at the end of the day on Sunday. It was to the point of being dangerous because spectators had nowhere to go.

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Originally Posted by phan52

They can talk about it all they want. Maybe in another 30 years.

You had to be here to see the logistical nightmare on every level. The players needed a good half hour to get to the first tee from the range at the West Course. They talked a good game and said it didn't bother them but, come on, that's ridiculous. The fans had to walk to a remote gate to get shuttles to get to the range. The fact that nobody but marshals could see players drive on 15 and putt on 16. The lack of parking (one of the remote sites was closed for the week after Tuesday because it was a mucky, muddy mess). The only thing that worked was mass transit, but you had to pick the right station to use because full trains just roared by some of them.

Philly was starving for this and they were going to sell out regardless, but it wasn't fair. You should have seen the chaotic mess at 16-17-18 at the end of the day on Sunday. It was to the point of being dangerous because spectators had nowhere to go.

I believe you, but so what?  How does not being able to see a couple of holes on the back nine inconvenience anybody?  I've been to several PGA Tour events (and a US Open as well) and I don't see most of the holes.  If I have to take a shuttle to get to the range, I determine for myself whether or not I think its worth it.  Again, so what?  Going to big events like PGA Touraments, NFL games, Nascar races, etc, etc, are always inconvenient for fans in regards to the crowds, the parking, the hassles of getting around, etc, etc.  You expect that going in, but you want the experience so you choose to go anyway.

Further, if they lose 10 million dollars in gate revenue once every 20 or 30 years so they can host the tournament at an amazing and historic venue, who's it really hurting?  What is their overall revenue for the event?  100 million?  200 million?  I don't know, but can't imagine that 10 really hurts them.

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Originally Posted by phan52

They can talk about it all they want. Maybe in another 30 years.

I think they'll be back to Merion by 2023.

Originally Posted by phan52

You had to be here to see the logistical nightmare on every level. The players needed a good half hour to get to the first tee from the range at the West Course. They talked a good game and said it didn't bother them but, come on, that's ridiculous.

Uhm, maybe it didn't bug them.

Originally Posted by phan52

The fact that nobody but marshals could see players drive on 15 and putt on 16.

So?

Originally Posted by phan52

The lack of parking (one of the remote sites was closed for the week after Tuesday because it was a mucky, muddy mess).

You do realize that Bethpage had the same parking issue. Or Kiawah Island for the PGA, where you had to ride a bus for an hour. Hell, even the U.S. Women's Open had parking that was a 35-minute bus ride from Oakmont in 2010.

Originally Posted by phan52

Philly was starving for this and they were going to sell out regardless, but it wasn't fair. You should have seen the chaotic mess at 16-17-18 at the end of the day on Sunday. It was to the point of being dangerous because spectators had nowhere to go.

I don't think you've been to very many PGA Tour events, let alone a major.

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Originally Posted by iacas

I think they'll be back to Merion by 2023.

Uhm, maybe it didn't bug them.

So?

You do realize that Bethpage had the same parking issue. Or Kiawah Island for the PGA, where you had to ride a bus for an hour. Hell, even the U.S. Women's Open had parking that was a 35-minute bus ride from Oakmont in 2010.

I don't think you've been to very many PGA Tour events, let alone a major.

I'll try to be conservative here, but I will guess that I've been to around 35 professional golf events, including around 5 LPGA events, 3 Mens' US Opens, 2 Masters and a Women's US Open. I've also attended a Walker Cup and 2 US Amateurs. I have caddied in three PGA events, marshaled 4, including this week's US Open, worked as a standard bearer, a scorer and a range operator. So, you would be wrong, I've been to a lot of PGA tour events and Majors, and I have never seen spectators inconvenienced even close to the level they were this week at Merion.

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Originally Posted by phan52

I'll try to be conservative here, but I will guess that I've been to around 35 professional golf events, including around 5 LPGA events, 3 Mens' US Opens, 2 Masters and a Women's US Open. I've also attended a Walker Cup and 2 US Amateurs. I have caddied in three PGA events, marshaled 4, including this week's US Open, worked as a standard bearer, a scorer and a range operator. So, you would be wrong, I've been to a lot of PGA tour events and Majors, and I have never seen spectators inconvenienced even close to the level they were this week at Merion.

But I'll ask again ... how is not being able to see a part of two holes really inconveniencing anybody?  Also, how is not being able to walk to the range inconveniencing anybody?  And when is it ever not a madhouse around 17 and 18 on Sunday at a marquee PGA tour event, especially the US Open?

Without having been there, I would bet that the shuttle ride to the range at Merion is shorter than the walk to the range from the entrance at Torrey.  Heck, just to get near the entrance you have to take a shuttle bus from the parking lot at frickin Sea World.  (Or Del Mar fairgrounds, I don't remember)  Then it's a 1/4 mile walk to the actual entrance, then it's a mile and a half (just measured it roughly on google maps) walk from that point to the range.  We never bothered to venture in that far.  My mom, who has bad knees, never got past the grandstands at 11, lol.  Point is, its a hassle.  When you have an event that allows 50k, 100k, 200k people in one place, its going to be inconvenient for everybody in some way, and you all know that going in.

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Look, it's not like this is a regular occurrence. There's only one US Open a year. And more often than not it is held at venues where logistics aren't a major hassle. I'm quick to criticize the USGA, but in this instance I appreciate their willingness to have the Open at a site reeking of history that presents logistical challenges; ostensibly for tradition's sake. And successfully pull it off.

It's not like they have to 'appeal' to fans to get sellouts for US Opens. They'll come.

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Originally Posted by Golfingdad

But I'll ask again ... how is not being able to see a part of two holes really inconveniencing anybody?  Also, how is not being able to walk to the range inconveniencing anybody?  And when is it ever not a madhouse around 17 and 18 on Sunday at a marquee PGA tour event, especially the US Open?

Without having been there, I would bet that the shuttle ride to the range at Merion is shorter than the walk to the range from the entrance at Torrey.  Heck, just to get near the entrance you have to take a shuttle bus from the parking lot at frickin Sea World.  (Or Del Mar fairgrounds, I don't remember)  Then it's a 1/4 mile walk to the actual entrance, then it's a mile and a half (just measured it roughly on google maps) walk from that point to the range.  We never bothered to venture in that far.  My mom, who has bad knees, never got past the grandstands at 11, lol.  Point is, its a hassle.  When you have an event that allows 50k, 100k, 200k people in one place, its going to be inconvenient for everybody in some way, and you all know that going in.

Is Sea World 16 miles from Torrey? Don't answer that, because I know it is not, it's an easy drive up 5. After the one remote parking lot was closed down because of the rain this past week, the nearest parking was in Chester, PA, almost in Delaware. And the range at Torrey is AT Torrey, not at a whole other site.

Not having the opportunity for ANYBODY to see important shots on the last four holes of a Major is ridiculous. And I won't even try to explain the chaotic situation at the last threee holes on Sunday on a golf course that sits on 134 acres because, really, you had to be there. In comparison, Aronimink had over 100,000 more people at the ATT National in 2010, but they have over 300 acres and there was plenty of opportunity to see every single shot that was hit on the golf course.

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Originally Posted by phan52

[Snip]

I have never seen spectators inconvenienced even close to the level they were this week at Merion.

Fair enough on your experience.

But you're also the only person I've heard talking about this as if it's a big deal.

I think that last week was a success. Everyone I've talked to that went loved it (11 people), and everyone who watched it on TV loved watching it.

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