The Best U.S. Open Venues

Jaime Diaz ranks his favorite U.S. Open sites

June 15, 2011
Great national championship venues are marked by history, character and -- amidst a course setup formula that can reward a monotonous and unimaginative style of play -- interesting golf. While Golden Age courses still make up the core of a de facto rota, the USGA has ventured to new places in recent years, most notably Bethpage Black, while Erin Hills and Chambers Bay are on deck. I'm still partial to the classics, although it's important that these oldies keep making improvements, as next year's host, the Olympic Club, and Pinehurst No. 2, the site in 2014, are doing. That said, the youngest of the following five was built in 1923.

1. Merion

Merion is simply a perfect site: compact, charming and distinctive -- golf's version of Fenway Park or Wrigley Field. I love Merion for its whicker baskets, for the ambiance around its veranda-bordered first tee, but most of all for its pacing. Hugh Wilson blends short holes (five par 4s under 400 yards and a 127-yard par 3) that require precision, but offer scoring opportunities with long beasts where the goal is survival. The East Course is tough at the beginning, fun in the middle and brutal at the end. Its less than 7,000 yards won't feel short in 2013. Hogan's comeback win in 1950, and Trevino's playoff victory over Nicklaus in 1971 give Merion claim to arguably the two greatest Opens ever. And David Graham's closing 66 in 1981 was pure.
Stephen Szurlej

More on GolfDigest.com

Subscribe to Golf Digest
Subscribe to Golf Digest
Subscribe today