I would call my Golf World review of the USGA's course setup at Merion "mixed" with a lean toward positive because the emphasis on difficulty let the Merion membership feel good about hosting the U.S. Open. In other words, there was a political element to this year's setup and Mike Davis addressed that.
However, in the details I certainly make clear there were some elements that were just not very good and contradictory of the USGA's desire to show off Merion's supreme architecture. In particular, was lack of width and the setup of the third hole Sunday, something Phil Mickelson, errr...lamented.
Anyway, check out my story in Golf World this week.
I have a few stats in my story, but Jim McCabe also breaks down Merion "by the numbers" and has some fun stuff to share at Golfweek.com
Tod Leonard wasn't so forgiving and says Mike Davis "botched" the setup.
There is making the course hard, and there’s making it fair, and Davis — who hasn’t erred much during his reign — made a mistake with this one. The final round was drudgery, not good or interesting golf. The USGA is trying to grow the game. Would anybody want to go out and take up golf after watching that?
Rex Hoggard talked to players at the Travelers and concludes that the USGA did not do a good job showing off Merion at its best.
“I met a guy in the airport on Saturday when I was flying home, he was 91 (years old),” Glover said. “He had been to every Open since 1950 at Merion. I asked how fast the greens were in ’81, he said, ‘10 (on the Stimpmeter).’ I said how long was the rough, ‘3 inches.’ I asked if that was the same golf course and he said, ‘Absolutely not,’ . . . he said it was atrocious.”
Lost in last week’s reintroduction of Merion after a 32-year hiatus from the U.S. Open rotation was the fact that this was not the same course where Bobby Jones completed the Grand Slam in 1930 by winning the U.S. Amateur or where Ben Hogan made emotional history at the 1950 U.S. Open.
Davis, the USGA executive director who took over for Tom Meeks as the Open’s top setup man in 2004, has proven himself adept at setting up fair, but difficult golf courses. This time, however, he may have blazed through a few stop signs on his way to Sunday’s trophy presentation.
Of the 500 or so votes cast in the poll here, it's clear the setup was seen as a way to mask distance gains and that very few saw the week as a resounding win for the pro-do-nothing-about-distance set.