Embedded as a “utility worker” on Merion Golf Club’s expanded kitchen staff to help feed all those who descended on Ardmore, Pa., for the 113th U.S. Open Championship, Club & Resort Business Editor Joe Barks filed daily postings about his experience during each day of the tournament week. Here are his final thoughts after the last three days of the competition. A Q&A with Merion Golf Club’s Executive Chef (and C&RB Contributing Editor) Jerry Schreck about the entire tournament experience will be presented as the “Chef to Chef” feature in the July issue of C&RB.
After taking early steps to be better prepared for another lunch onslaught like Wednesday’s, Thursday’s rain brought members and guests inside three hours earlier than expected—and with different appetites than had been planned for. Our kitchen suddenly became a short-order diner, scrambling to make a whole new supply of breakfast sandwiches while also filling special orders.
After I asked Merion GC Sous Chef Noel Quigley, who recently celebrated his 39th anniversary with the club and is one of the few current Merion staffers who was also present for the last U.S. Open there in 1981, to rank on a scale of 1 to 10 how much bigger this year’s Championship is than that one, he replied: “Seventeen.”
A day of good weather brought different patterns of when people came to the members’ tent to eat—and they brought bigger appetites with them. That created the need for on-the-fly adjustments to the routine that the back-of-the-house staff has been trying to settle into.
It’s surprising to learn that the U.S. Open has not had a consistent tradition of Champions Dinners each year. But on Tuesday night, over 30 of the greats who have hoisted the two-handled silver trophy, including Palmer, Nicklaus, Trevino, Woods and McIlroy, will gather for an intimate “Reunion Dinner” in one of the Merion clubhouse’s quaint dining rooms.
The storied Merion golf course will understandably, and deservedly, get all the attention and accolades this week, but the clubhouse deserves some love, too, for also helping to provide a truly distinctive venue for a major sporting event.