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More than 25,000 fans will descend on Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., for the 113th U.S. Open. But several residents of the surrounding neighborhood won't be showing all those golf enthusiasts around town. In fact, they won't be rolling out the welcome wagon—they'll be riding that wagon out of town.
Homeowners in the area have taken advantage of the lack of nearby accommodations and placed their houses up for rent. With some of the nearest hotels situated in towns that sound as if they're straight out of a fantasy novel (King of Prussia and Conshohocken) and downtown Philadelphia 30 minutes away on a good traffic day, some players will spend their week in multimillion-dollar houses less than a lob wedge from the back nine. Some that overshadow the course are rumored to be getting six figures for a 10-day lease.
Scott Korn, 50, has lived in the area for his entire life and recently put his house on the burgeoning rental market for the week of the Open. But his pool, fire pit and backyard putting green aren't just for anyone. "It's a Tiger Woods house," Korn says.
The scuttlebutt up and down Golf House Road, which runs adjacent to the course, is that Woods will set up residence in one of the three-story wonders that overlook the 14th fairway.
Playing in his fifth U.S. Open, Rickie Fowler will reside in a house a few minutes from the entry gates. His landlords are heading south for a weeklong vacation.
Linda Z, as she is known in the neighborhood, has sold real estate up and down the Main Line—a collection of affluent burgs that include several of the richest zip codes in the country—for more than 35 years. She has been taken back by the neighborhood's transformation. "You have to see it to believe it," says Z, who chose not to list her property.
A stroll down the 14th hole would usually allow for views of mansion after mansion. Instead, corporate tents have been set up in several backyards; one brought $60,000 for the week.
It's a vast difference from last year, when the Open was played at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. Olympic sits on 300 acres. Merion's 111-acre site is bisected by Ardmore Avenue in a suburb of West Philadelphia. The crowds will be twice Ardmore's population of 12,455.
Marji Rosenbluth Phillips has lived next to the course for 18 years. She was around for the 2005 U.S. Amateur and the '09 Walker Cup, but nothing compares with this. "Traffic is going to be a disaster," says Phillips, who unsuccessfully attempted to rent her house and adjoining cottage. "I'm dreading it. I can't imagine even trying to get to my house. [These roads are] not meant for this."
Residents have been allocated four parking passes to get to their houses, but with several key streets shut down for the week, what is typically a five-minute drive home could turn into a half-hour excursion around roadblocks. To appease them, the USGA distributed four-day tournament passes.