Merion's middle act perfect for round of nine

Tiger Woods tees off on the first hole by the clubhouse during the first round of the U.S. Open at...

Tiger Woods tees off on the first hole by the clubhouse during the first round of the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., June 13, 2013. (MATT SULLIVAN/Reuters)

JON McCARTHY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:08 PM ET

ARDMORE, PA. - Merion Golf Club would be a perfect place to sneak in a quick nine holes.

In fact, even if I had all day, playing nine at the U.S. Open site seems just about right.

One of the most common complaints about golf is how long it takes to play. There is a push in the industry to get people to play more nine-hole rounds.

This has nothing to do with that.

For anyone who didn't watch the massacre at Merion last week, the course chewed up and spat out the world's top golfers. Watching them struggle around the the historic course outside Philadelphia made me realize that nine holes would be plenty.

Which nine would I like to play? The front? The back?

No thanks.

I'd play the middle.

Merion has been referred to as a three act play: Drama, Comedy, then Tragedy. Like many who don't golf for a living, my game already has enough drama and can turn into a tragedy on its own, so sign me up for the comedy.

Playing the seventh to 13th holes, I'd see many of Merion's strategic short par-4s.

I’d see the great risk/reward 10th, where, if I played the proper tee, I'd take a go at the green.

I’d see the famous 11th hole where, as long as it's not underwater that day, I'd be able to make a putt on the green where Bobby Jones closed out Gene Homans in 1930 to complete his Grand Slam.

On the 13th hole, I’d to take out my wedge at the itsy-bitsy par-3 and try to do better than Phil Mickelson, who bogeyed the easiest hole on the course twice last week.

So far, my round sounds like it would be great, but that's only seven holes. I’d still need two more.

Since I wouldn't want anybody at exclusive Merion to think I snuck on the course, I’d begin my round on the first hole. Teeing off right beside the clubhouse porch, I’d be able to soak in all the history, be able to imagine all the great players who have teed off there before me ... be able to get scorecards and ball markers for all my friends.

Most importantly, I’d be able to make sure I didn't miss one of Merion's simpler holes. The opener is a 350-yard par-4 and played second-easiest during the Open.

That's eight holes. One more to go. This is where it gets tricky.

It wouldn't be the two par-5s, holes No. 2 and 4. Both played over par at the Open and several of the world's best saw their tournament hopes die at No. 2, including Steve Stricker who made a snowman there Sunday. I wouldn't need that.

How about the 260-yard par 3 third hole? Ya, right.

Holes No. 5 and 6? The pros made 391 bogeys, 77 doubles and just 35 birdies there. I'll pass.

That only leaves Merion's closing stretch, better known as the place where good rounds go to die.

Even though I’d be looking for a pain-free day, the pull of the famous closing hole is too much to resist. Yes, it's a 520-yard par-4 and I'm not sure whether I’d be able to carry the quarry off the tee just to make it to the fairway, but the photo of Ben Hogan hitting his famous 1-iron hangs in my den at home. And I just witnessed Justin Rose having a Hogan moment there Sunday.

I want one of my own.

So, the 18th it is.

I picture myself standing beside the Hogan plaque with the sun beginning to set, taking a deep breath and hitting a perfect long-iron that lands just in front of the green, skips up and settles next to the hole.

There is no doubt in my mind I can do it.

As long as I bring enough balls.


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