Merion has always been one of the shortest courses the USGA uses for its biggest event. Since 1930 only Inverness in 1931 (6,529 yards) and St. Louis Country Club in '47 (6,532) measured shorter than Merion did in '71 and '81 (6,544). And when the Open was played at Merion in 1934 and '50, it was 150 yards longer than in '71 and '81.
Next week, the Open will be played at 6,996 yards, just 452 yards longer than in 1981. Six holes will play shorter, and another will play the same distance. Remarkably, five holes—the 1st, 8th, 11th, 13th and 16th—will play shorter than they did in 1934, and the 7th hole will measure the same.