"I love Merion, and I don't even know her last name," legendary golfer Lee Trevino was once memorably quoted when asked about the venue for this week's U.S. Open.
"Supermex" had good cause for his admiration of the famous inland links near Philadelphia, having won the 1971 edition of the tournament after a playoff with Jack Nicklaus, no less.
Nicklaus, who went on to win a record 18 major titles, described Merion's championship East Course as "Acre for acre, maybe the best test of golf in the world."
Current No. 1 Tiger Woods is another big fan. "You have to be so disciplined to play that course," he said after a recent practice round.
So what is it about the Merion which evokes such praise -- and what will await Woods and his rivals when they bid for major glory this week? Thursday's opening round was disrupted by the arrival of predicted bad weather, but there is much more at the Pennsylvania venue to challenge the world's top golfers.
CNN's Living Golf has gone behind the scenes at the iconic venue to provide the definitive guide to the magic of Merion and all its charms.
Foremost among them are the famous red wicker baskets which are positioned above the pin sticks in place of conventional flags -- a peculiarity these days, though more common earlier in the history of golf.
They first appeared at Merion in 1915, three years after the course opened in September 1912.
The historical origins of the baskets and indeed the reason for them remain unclear, but by the time the 1916 U.S. Amateur Championship was hosted -- the first major event on the course -- they were still in place and have remained ever since.
The green staff even have a special machine into which each individual wicker basket flag can be gathered up each night in the "wicker cart."
When a move to replace "the wickers" with standardized flags was mooted, the outcry was loud and clear.
But, according to Trevino, they add to the challenge facing the golfers, particularly in breezy conditions.
"Generally when we stand out in the middle of the fairway we can see which way the flag is blowing so we have some idea of how to play the wind," he told CNN.
"But with the wicker baskets, no!"
Whoever emerges the winner this Sunday evening will be presented with a wicker basket to commemorate their win along with the championship trophy.
In 1950, the legendary American golfer Ben Hogan won the U.S. Open at Merion -- just 16 months after suffering terrible injuries in an automobile crash which nearly claimed his life.
By a curious twist, and for the only time, the wicker baskets were not used that year.
Perhaps they did not want to upset Hogan -- who had the unfair reputation of being a ruthless and aloof winning machine -- on his courageous comeback trail.
So when he came to play his second shot to the testing par-four 18th in the final round, he would have seen a flag blowing in the far distance over 200 yards away.
Struggling with pain from his still-healing injuries and knowing he needed to find the small green with his shot to have any real chance of joining two other golfers in a playoff, Hogan selected a one-iron club -- which hits the ball far and low if hit correctly.
Ever the perfectionist, Hogan's strike was pure perfection and brought gasps from the galleries as it arrowed its way to the heart of the green.
Two putts for a par were enough and he won the next day's 18-hole playoff against Lloyd Mangrum and George Fazio.
The drama of the moment was captured for posterity by famous Sports Illustrated and Life Magazine photographer Hy Peskin. It is rated one of the best sports photos of the 20th century.