Mother Nature must hate practice.
The Monday practice sessions at Merion Golf Club for the 2013 U.S. Open were wet. All wet. The early sessions were delayed by rain, and while the middle of the day saw moderate and relatively playable conditions around Merion, the rains began to swamp the course again by midafternoon.
Maybe Mother Nature hates golf altogether. At least it's pretty clear she's opposed to our national championship being held outside Philadelphia. That's the only logical explanation for all this rain.
All this rain.
The area was slammed with more than four inches of rain last weekend, and while initial reports for this week had things drying up in time for the tournament on Thursday, even that has changed for the worse.
The real question is how the course will hold up during the practice rounds. There was nearly three-quarters of an inch of rain in the 24 hours through Monday night, with more on the way expected into Tuesday. There are scattered thunderstorms and high winds in the forecast for Tuesday, and while Wednesday was supposed to be clear and dry, there's a 50 percent chance of rain slated for that evening, too.
The start of play on Thursday is going to be the worst weather of the week, if that's possible after what happened on Monday.
There is a 70 percent chance of rain on Thursday, with thunder and very little sun. The temperature is also slated to drop more than 12 degrees. It won't be pretty.
The rain has already been so bad in the area that Merion and the USGA had to temporarily close one of the main spectator parking lots, imploring fans coming to the practice rounds to take public transportation.
There were already concerns about how Merion was going to fit all the spectators for this year's U.S. Open, not just on the diminutive course but also in the surrounding community. Many fans were forced to park 16 miles away at PPL Park, the home of the Philadelphia Union, and subsequently shuttled to the course.
Now, more fans will have to make the trek from Chester, Pa., because of the flooding.
Ah, the flooding. All the flooding.
The fairways and greens on Merion look impeccable, but they are soaked, so they already seem very slow. The rough is going to be a major (pun) issue this week, especially if the ground is this wet for the next four days.
I had the chance to see Freddie Jacobson chipping off the 14th green, and ball after ball dropped into the Merion rough disappeared at least two inches into the grass. This, mind you, was inches off the green. That's how razor thin the mistakes will be at Merion, and while the greens and fairways may be more receptive with the extra moisture in the ground, the deep rough could become even more punitive.
Hitting the ball in the fairway is going to somehow be even more imperative at the U.S. Open this year.
To be kind to the course, the second cut of rough has become absolutely unplayable with the slog of mud and standing water. Any wayward tee shot will become a huge issue, and rounds on Thursday should be slow, methodical and as waterlogged as the course.
The hole crossings are a slippery, disgusting mess. The outer rough surrounding the cart paths is inches deep in mud. Even the carpets on the shantytown that makes up the amazing merchandise area and sponsor tents are saturated.
If you have tickets to Merion, bring an extra pair of socks...and a bucket to ring out the first pair.
Bring an umbrella too—I made that mistake on Monday—and pack a pair of rain boots. Forget golf shoes. Rain boots are the new golf shoes. I've never seen so many women walking around in summer dresses and knee-high rubber boots. It's a ridiculous look, but damn I wish I had a pair after my shoes and socks were soaked through with Merion mud.
There was talk that several greens on the East Course may not be able to hold the amount of water expected this week. If that's the case, a last-resort contingency is in place to use three holes on the West Course, which would provide a logistical nightmare for the USGA.
Hopefully it won't come to that. Hopefully the rain won't be as severe on Tuesday. Hopefully Wednesday will be bright and sunny, and the course will dry out. Hopefully whatever rain does come on Thursday won't ruin what is really a beautiful course.
Friday is supposed to be the nicest day of the week, and the weekend is slated to be warm and dry.
Hopefully Mother Nature only hates weekdays.
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