Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia refused to use flags instead of their traditional wicker baskets for the US Open.
As a result, players are going to have an incredibly difficult time judging the wind.
The red-and-white baskets sit on metal poles. They won’t be moved by even the strongest gust.
Players are already moaning a little bit.
Luke Johnson told the NY Times:
“The baskets could be a factor if it gets a little windy. I’m not a big fan of them because it’s not consistent with what we normally use. I’m not anti-Merion, but we’re so used to seeing flags.”
Rickie Fowler told USA Today:
“But coming down the stretch, if you’re in the thick of the tournament, it could be different. You’re so used to seeing a flag and getting that last amount of information, so it might be a challenge for some”
Wayne Morrison of USOpen.com wrote a long story about the origin of the baskets.
They first appeared around 1915, making Merion the first American club to use baskets. But apparently wicker baskets were common around Europe in the 1850s.
So why were they there in the first place?
Apparently because they were easier to see than flags. Morrison dug up this nugget from a Philadelphia Evening Ledger newspaper story in 1915:
“Instead of the usual flags, which, when a head wind is blowing are invisible, wooden pins, with alternate stripes of black and white, and large, wicker, pear shaped tops, are used.”
Cool from a tradition angle, but menacing for the players.
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