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The U.S. Open will feature wicker baskets instead of flags at Merion Golf Club

Shane Bacon
Devil Ball Golf

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For the first time since 1981, the world will descend on Merion Golf Club's East Course on June 13 for the second major championship of the year and the fifth time the U.S. Open has been hosted there.

One thing you should expect to see? Wicker baskets adorning the tops of the flagsticks all across Merion's famed links.

Devil Ball put a call into the USGA on Monday morning asking if the traditional wicker baskets would be in play and it was confirmed they would.

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Why wicker baskets instead of traditional flags? Let the Merion Golf Club website explain it ...

"The wicker baskets' origin is a mystery to this day. There was a great deal written in 1912, and for three years thereafter, locally and nationally about this new course in Philadelphia. However, there was no mention of the soon-to-be famous wicker baskets. It could be assumed they were not there. By the summer of 1915, William Flynn, Merion's Superintendent, received patent approval for his wicker basket design. Merion had baskets that fall and from then-to-today. It could be assumed, due to lack of written proof, that Flynn convinced Wilson to use the baskets, and Merion received its "basket notoriety" the next year during the 1916 U.S. Amateur."

So, yeah, no concrete proof of why they are used, but it's a cool tradition that I'm glad the USGA is sticking with for the '13 U.S. Open.

The only time that the wicker baskets weren't used when the USGA descended on Merion was in 1950, when Ben Hogan won his second U.S. Open. According to the book "Miracle at Merion," the USGA went with flags because, as Richard Tufts wrote, "Simply because they are different I think there will be some criticism if the baskets are used."

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Anybody that wins a USGA event at Merion receives a wicker basket, and the course calls the flagsticks "standards" because of the lack of flags.

Now for the fun game, which player will be the first to hit a basket with a golf shot and complain? Your guess is as good as mine.

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