The amount of preparation that goes into setting a golf course up for a major championship is nothing short of incredible. The USGA spends years building a golf course to their liking, making sure everything is ready for just four days of golf from the best in the world.
Last summer I got the chance to play Chambers Bay, site of the 2015 U.S. Open, and some of the greens were being redone and moved around because the USGA asked them to (three years before the U.S. Open bombards that public course in Washington).
This week is Merion, and NBC noted on Thursday that members were asked starting in October to hit every golf shot from the fairway off a mat, one that Dan Hicks is holding in the above picture. Caddies would carry it around and members would put their ball on the mat, helping to keep the course in perfect condition and avoiding a ton of divots for this week.
This isn't the first time something like this has happened, but it does say a lot about the USGA's commitment to excellence and the support of a membership like the one at Merion that the people that pay a huge sum of money to join would abide by this request.
I applaud the members for agreeing, and also, I bet they got a nice little break on their handicaps over the last eight months because if you've ever hit a golf shot off a mat, you know how easy it is to simply pure it.
(screengrab above thanks to the fine people at Larry Brown Sports)