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The juiciest: Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson or Rory McIlroy would take over one of the sprawling tent compounds and hang out there.

Nope. Just dozens of fans swigging beers, smoking cigars, and eschewing high-def TV for the real deal just across the street.

And in any case, it’s been a bit of a nuisance trying to drive anywhere so residents were issued ID badges so they could move freely around their own neighborhood.

Championship director Hank Thompson said they could expect inconveniences for about another 45 days.

The USGA called Merion a “boutique Open” and the charm is apparent everywhere.

The first hole tee box is next to the clubhouse patio, where the tinkling of glasses rings through the air before the first drive of the day. Wicker baskets, the official symbol of Merion, have replaced flags on greens.

And forget lockers and podiums for post-round interviews. Most are held in the backyard of a home with a pool and a slide as a backdrop.

When the interviews are over, players hop a short shuttle ride to local businessman Tom Gravina’s compound, which is now their hospitality area.

“We’ll see in the end if everybody would do it again,” Van Arkel said. “We would, and I’m guessing the majority of the neighbors would.”

Hold on. Not everyone.

Suzanne Goodwin, who has lived on Golf House Road since 1975, can’t wait for the circus to leave town.

Reached by telephone when a security guard (provided by the golf club) wouldn’t allow a reporter to knock on the door, she said, “”Wait one second! I want to tell you the other side.”

She complained of construction noise in the middle of the night and traffic turning her road into the “New Jersey Turnpike.”

Goodwin said she didn’t mind living through the 1981 Open because the takeover simply involved a few tents and beefed up security.

Now, it’s life under the big top.

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