18) The wicker baskets. I have one in my office. I want another.
17) The quarry holes. Often copied, never duplicated.
16) The intimate quarters, even after all of the “eminent domain”–the “Wrigley Field” balconies along 7 and 8, the private patios behind 11, the entrance gate by 16 up someone’s driveway with a pool party going on in the backyard, the urinals in someone’s front yard next to 14.
15) Strolling up and down Ardmore Avenue and Golf House Road, part of the grounds in this Open. Standing on the road watching tee shots on 13.
14) The 11th green’s (virtually) private grandstand, nearly impossible to find even with a course map. What a place to watch golf, where Bobby Jones clinched the Grand Slam.
13) The classic clubhouse, the patio by the first tee and seeing David Graham get such a prime viewing spot.
12) The trains whistling by the 17th green. Sounds were straight out of a British Open at Royal Troon.
11) Trains dropping spectators at Ardmore Avenue station and the foot traffic over to the course. A timeless golf tournament scene.
10) The quietness of my hotel at the Villanova University Conference Center.
9) The traffic (actually, the lack thereof), between Villanova and my parking spot. 10 minutes each way at all times of the day.
8) My parking spot–while the masses parked for “free” so far away they were practically in Delaware, I drove down Lancaster Avenue, took a right on Ardmore Avenue, took a left on Haverford right by the station, grabbed a parking space in someone’s driveway less than a block up on the right, and walked 5 minutes to the 12th tee.
7) Playing the Philadelphia Cricket Club on Wednesday evening with lifelong friend PDK! What a way to cap off a day during Open week.
6) The views from the grandstands behind 3, behind 11, and behind 17. Unforgettable.
5) The local pizza (everywhere). The cheesesteaks have nothing on the cheese pizza here.
4) The crazy back tees–on 6 (really the back of 3 tee), 14 (the practice putting green), and best of all 18, which was about the size of a ball drop zone.
3) Sergio Garcia hitting 3 OB on 15, matching my performance in the 1986 PA State Am.
2) Seeing the great Dan Jenkins being escorted by a young lady (presumably his daughter) onto the grounds by the 16th tee. By the excitement in his eyes upon seeing Merion once more you could tell he was suddenly 40 again. This is why you come back to these venues.
1) After the rain delay on Thursday evening, grabbing undeserved spots in empty grandstands for a once-in-a-lifetime view of Woods, McIlroy, and Scott in action. Merion, you were even better than advertised. See you again down the road!