ARDMORE, Pa. – A decade ago, TaylorMade Golf started making commemorative logos for hats, bags and accessories given to staff players competing in major championships.
Here’s a look at the logo for this year’s U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club (East Course) in Ardmore, Pa. – and an explanation of its symbolism.
1. The snake: Merion Golf Club has hosted five previous U.S. Opens, and while the image of Ben Hogan hitting a 1-iron to the 18th hole in the 1950 U.S. Open may be the most iconic photograph in the tournament’s history, the most comical moment came in 1971. Before the start of their 18-hole playoff in 1971, Lee Trevino’s daughter put a rubber snake in his bag. Contrary to what many people think, Trevino never tried to scare Jack Nicklaus with it. But he did toss it to the Golden Bear after Nicklaus asked to see it.
The way the snake is coiled around the bell is meant to invoke the image of a snake wrapped around a staff, which is the universal symbol for medicine. According to TaylorMade, this reference is included because the winners of two U.S. Opens held at Merion overcame serious health challenges. Olin Dutra recovered from Amoebic Dysentery a year before winning the 1934 U.S. Open, and Hogan recovered from an automobile accident that nearly cost him his life in 1949 before claiming the 1950 title.
2. The snake’s tail: The rattlesnake’s rattle in the logo has been replaced by a red wicker basket, matching the handmade baskets found on the top of the flagsticks on the course’s first nine holes. Orange wicker baskets are used on the back nine. Legend has it, the idea came from English sheepherders who put round wicker baskets on their walking sticks to protect their lunch from animals.
3. The bell: The Liberty Bell, a symbol of American independence and the city of Philadelphia, is housed 10 miles from Merion in Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Built by the London firm of Lester and Pack and completed in 1753, the top of its casting reads: “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
4. The Roman numerals: The top of the bell in the logo is marked with MMXIII – the Roman numerals for 2013.
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*Here is a bonus gallery of TaylorMade’s Masters logos.