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Merion Neighbors Prepare For U.S. Open Madness

FILE: A view of the 11th hole on the East Course at Merion Golf Club. (credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

FILE: A view of the 11th hole on the East Course at Merion Golf Club. (credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

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By Pat Loeb

ARDMORE, Pa. (CBS) - Merion Golf Club is hosting its first U.S. Open in more than 30 years and it’s proving to be a logistical challenge for the entire community — 25,000 spectators a day are expected in the area, beginning Monday.

Charles McIntosh remembers the last time the Open came to Merion, in 1981.

“We could hear the cheering and then we could also watch it on TV but we had no sense of difficulties with traffic or too many people. That was just not an issue then.”

How things have changed. Street closures, parking provisions, entertainment tents and security.

Father Ryan Whitley is pastor of St. George’s Episcopal Church, the Golf Club’s next door neighbor and — next week — home of the Open’s security command center.

“Delaware County, Montgomery County sheriff’s department, FBI and Homeland Security. It’s going to be pretty crazy around here during those days.”

Parishoners won’t be able to get to church but Whitley doesn’t view it as an inconvenience. He’s holding Sunday services at a township park.

“We figured this was a great opportunity to have an open and public service and welcome the neighborhood to come and see what we’re about.”

 

(credit: Drew Hallowell)

(credit: Drew Hallowell)

And for a few days, he says, St. George’s will be the most secure church on the planet.

Haverford College is a major venue for open activities and Anne Marie Dash has been living with the preparations, which promise to be outdone by the tournament itself.

“Our street is going to be blocked off so we’ll have to go to work a different way. It’s very exciting but it has its good and bad points.”

Some neighbors saw an opportunity and rented out their houses. Others, like Emily, didn’t but are thinking of leaving town anyway.

“Just to be able to resume some normalcy.”

Kelly Steller is looking forward to the tournament.

“We have tickets and we’re going to bring our kids over because it might be a once in a lifetime. I don’t know if the Open is ever going to come back.”