The Merion Golf Club's East Course must surely be the most versatile 18 holes in the country. Most courses sturdy enough to test the top pros are seldom suitable battlegrounds even for the best amateurs, but here is Merion, over the last 38 years not only the scene of two National Open championships and three National Amateurs, but also of two National Women's Amateurs—and equable for all. Last Thursday and Friday, some four years after it had proved in the 1950 Open to be all that the best modern men pros could handle, Merion was host to the eighth Curtis Cup match, the biennial series between teams of women amateurs representing the United States and the British Isles. There was some beautiful golf and some really remarkable scoring by both sides. Merion's secret, perhaps, is that it is such a sound course it demands good shotmaking and such a lovely course it encourages it.
MAIN LINEAR MEETING
Of the important golf competitions, some have the primary flavor of "championships," others of "tournaments" or "matches" or "contests" or just plain "events." The Curtis Cup—three foursomes, six singles—inveterately produces an atmosphere so intimate and sporting and old-fashionedly well-bred that you think of it as a "tourney," better still a "meeting." On Thursday, when the foursomes were played, there was about as much tension in the air as if a team of Wilmington ladies were up against a team of their Philadelphia friends. The gallery was made up almost entirely of women, they all seemed to know each other, and the majority were so Main Linear in countenance and accent that a stranger might well have mistaken any one of a score of them for the non-playing captain of the British side.
By midafternoon on Thursday the outcome of the meeting had been fairly well decided, for the United States had conclusively wrapped up all three foursomes. Playing the ninth hole, the 27th of the match, the first American pair of Mary Lena Faulk and Polly Riley stood 3-up on their opponents. On this hole, a stiff 160-yard one-shotter from an elevated tee to a kidney-shaped green protected by a stream (in front) and by five of Merion's famous "white faces," its flashed stand-up traps, Mary Lena wafted a five-iron eight feet from the hole and Polly holed the putt. A short while later the second foursome came to the 27th, the Americans 6-up, and Pat Lesser played a six-iron 15 feet from the hole and Claire Doran holed the putt. A short time after this—you just had to stick around and see if the third American team could get its bird—Dorothy Kirby and Barbara Romack arrived at the 27th tee 6-up, and, almost inevitably it seemed, Dorothy hit a superb five-iron seven feet from the hole and Barbara holed it for the deuce. Over the day's play, hitting alternate shots, Romack and Kirby, Faulk and Riley, and Frances Stephens and Elizabeth Price, the lead British pair, each had a nine in 36 and Doran and Lesser got around in 74 shots in the morning—wonderful stuff when you consider that, aside from teeing up an average of thirty yards forward from the men's championship markers, they were playing just about the same layout on which Ben Hogan averaged 71¾ strokes for his four rounds in the 1950 Open. The over-all scoring fell off a bit on the second day, but Claire Doran, the tall, lithe, sometime-schoolteacher from Cleveland, began to do everything right after a rocky start, and sailed through the last 26 holes of her match in three under even fours. I doubt if any woman golfer has ever played a more brilliant stretch in competition over a major course.
September 12, 1954
A LIKELY LASS
On Friday, when they were faced with winning five of the six singles to retain the cup they had won at Muir-field in 1952, the best the British could manage was three. One of these victories, however, could well be one we will all be referring to for years to come, for it introduced a thoroughly winning 19-year-old Scottish girl named Janette Robertson—a lass who is veritably a lass. Miss Robertson works as an assistant cashier for a tire manufacturing company in Glasgow and would appear to be the finest young British player to come along since Pam Barton. In an almost classic match, she came up against young Joyce Ziske, our stocky, aggressive, and very capable North and South champion. One down after 18 and still one down after 27, young Miss Robertson, not an emotion out of place, thinking out each shot clearly and then executing it with great definition, won three of the next seven holes. Dormie two at the 210-yard 35th, she poked a brassie 16 feet from the pin and rolled in the putt, all of it as easily as spreading marmalade on toast. And you felt she could do it again.
OUT OF CHARACTER
Bobby Jones once said, "This fellow has the best swing I ever saw." But he meant in golf. For 17 years the "fellow" has been winning top tournaments with long drives and spectacular gambles. Short putts are his weak point and the National Open has been his jinx. Still one of the favorites in each tournament he enters is the drawling Slammer: Sam Snead