Q: When is a tee also a green?

By |  June 12, 2013


A: When it’s No. 14 tee at Merion
Keep your eyes peeled for an unusual sight at Merion Golf Club this week: players teeing it up on a green.
Reigning U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson tees it up on No. 14 green. Er, tee.

 Tom Marzolf, senior design associate at Fazio Golf Course Designers, smiled when asked about this unusual circumstance. The green is a practice green for members at Merion, but there’s more to the story than that.
“For the (2005) U.S. Amateur, the decision was made to create a level spot on the green. During the tournament, we picked up the markers and actually played (tee shots) off the green… that was well received, and added a lot of length to the 14th hole,” Marzolf says. “In the interim, we decided to make the green bigger. We did a 38-yard extension to this green. It’s one of the largest greens here. The green committee asked us to replicate the 17th green. It mimics the contours of the 17thgreen at Merion.”
In the foreground is the normal teeing ground for No. 14.
So Merion has a replica of 17 green that also doubles as a teeing ground for when the big hitters come out to play. Some courses really do have it all, eh?
“One of the issues for the change and why the green got 38 yards longer for the tee on 14, they wanted to put a very large grandstand behind 18. The wider the grandstand, the harder it would be to play 14 from the normal tee. So as we extended this green, we changed the angle of the tee shot to golfer’s left (on 14),” Marzolf says. “The line of play now is down the left-hand side… and now the grandstand on 18 is larger. It was done together.”
This new line means that a stop sign had to be moved on Golf House Road, which adjoins the course. With the new line, players would have had that stop sign as either a distraction or a target.
But isn’t it weird to step up on a green and put a peg down?
“It’s not something you do every day,” Marzolf says. “They’re all hitting woods off the tee, there’s not a divot issue. But it is a unique feeling to walk on to a green and swing away.”
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