Merion trials new pinning system


Sean Dudley

Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania, one of America's most highly-regarded courses, and host to next year's US Open, has deployed a new software program to help set pin positions.

The ezLocator system, developed by Jon Schultz, a member at Dallas Athletic Club in Texas, is designed to make pin setting more flexible, eliminating the shortcomings of restrictive systems as the quadrant or front, back and middle.

After a GPS system locates all the possible placements on each green, the information is entered in a program and the superintendent can decide on hole location there and then. As an added bonus, the systems enables clubs to produce tournament quality pin sheets every day.

Schultz developed the system after chats with other members of his weekend golf group at the club bar. “It seemed they always played the same pin positions and that all the golfers wanted a tournament like experience every time they teed off,” he said.

When a club decides to use ezLocator, a staff member visits the course and identifies all the possible hole locations on every green. Using GPS technology, each green is mapped to find all the possible pin locations. The data is then uploaded into the ezLocator website, allowing the superintendent to select and place the hole in a new area of the green every day.

“Merion's a difficult golf course to take care of,” said Matt Shaffer, the club's director of grounds. “This makes it easier. By looking at our pin sheets and seeing what kind of play we're getting, we can set things up accordingly and avoid making certain mistakes. And it allows us to water better. I think it's definitely going to give Merion an opportunity to put itself in the best possible position. It'll give the USGA a lot more flexibility. I think the players may actually see the difference.”

Kevin Nettles, superintendent at the Dallas Athletic Club said:. “It allows me to manage the greens from a stress point. I can isolate certain areas of the greens when necessary and save certain locations for special events.”