The United States Golf Association never hesitates to turn to Merion Golf Club’s East Course, the classic Hugh Wilson design in the Ardmore section of Haverford Township, to host one of its championships.
The USGA announced Tuesday that the 2022 Curtis Cup Match, a biennial match-play event between the top women amateur golfers from the United States against their counterparts from Great Britain and Ireland, will be played at Merion. It will be the 19th USGA event to be played at Merion, the most of any club. Mark down June 10 to 12 on your 2022 calendar if you’re the type who likes to plan ahead.
It comes on the heels of the 2013 U.S. Open when Merion proved that, yes the East Course could still hold its own against the modern golfers and, maybe more importantly, with the help of a massive effort from the surrounding townships and Haverford College, the area could pull together the infrastructure to put on the biggest golf tournament in the world with all its attendant corporate tents and media needs.
“The USGA is thrilled to return to Merion Golf Club for this biennial celebration of women’s amateur golf,” Stuart Francis, chairman of the USGA Championship Committee, said in a USGA release. “An exemplary championship host, Merion has always provided the comprehensive examination and hospitality expected of USGA championships and we are confident the club will deliver a memorable experience for all during the 2022 Curtis Cup Match.”
As always, the membership at Merion embraces the challenge of staging yet another USGA event.
“Merion is proud to have the opportunity to host this historic team competition featuring some of the best amateur golfers from the United States and Great Britain and Ireland,” said club president James B. Bradbeer Jr. “We look forward to adding to our long history in hosting and celebrating women’s championship golf and creating a new generation of golf memories at this special international competition.”
The Curtis Cup will be a breeze compared to putting on a U.S. Open. It will be much more like the 2009 Walker Cup Match, the male version of the United States vs. Great Britain & Ireland series.
As exciting as the Open was, if you really wanted to see Merion, to walk the fairways that Jones and Hogan and Nicklaus walked, the Walker Cup was your chance.
You also got a chance to see some future stars that week, most notably Rickie Fowler. But lefty Brian Harman, who drained a 28-foot birdie putt to snatch the Wells Fargo Championship title away from Dustin Johnson, among others, he was on that U.S. team.
A couple of 2009 U.S. Walker Cuppers had strong finishes last weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship as Bud Cauley finished tied for fifth and Cameron Tringale finished tied for ninth.
Great Britain & Ireland claimed the Curtis Cup last year with an 11.5-8.5 victory at Don Laoghaire Golf Club outside Dublin. The U.S. holds a 28-8-3 lead in the series.
If you watched any of the NCAA Women’s Championship on The Golf Channel this week, you got to see some of the combatants from last year’s Curtis Cup Match. Arizona State senior Monica Vaughn, who claimed the NCAA individual championship Monday at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill., was the elder stateswoman on a very young U.S. team.
Stanford freshman Andrea Lee, who finished sixth in the individual standings at Rich Harvest Farms, was also a member of the U.S. team.
The golf-mad Irish fans had a homegrown hero in Leona Maguire, the Duke junior who finished tied for second at this week’s NCAA Championship.
The 2016 U.S. team was largely comprised of players who, like Lee, were just finishing high school or who had just started their college careers like Bailey Tardy, who had just completed her freshman season at Georgia.
So, most, if not all, the players who will make up the 2022 U.S. Curtis Cup team are 11 or 12 right now. Somebody like Alexa Pano, who qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club last summer at age 11.
Just less than a month later, Pano of Lake Worth, Fla. had turned 12 when she claimed her first American Junior Golf Association victory in the PDQ/Philadelphia Runner Junior at Saucon Valley Country Club’s Weyhill Course.
Last winter she defeated Wisconsin recruit Claire Fitzgerald in the match-play final at Coral Ridge Country Club in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to claim the Ione D. Jones/Doherty Championship title, one of the events on the amateur Orange Blossom Tour.
So Alexa, looking forward to seeing you on one of the best golf courses you’ll ever play while representing the Red, White & Blue in June of 2022. Let's just see, OK?
Merion hosted the Curtis Cup once before, a 6-3 U.S. win in 1954, the home team captained by legendary Pennsylvania amateur Edith Flippin.
Merion is one of just three American courses to host both the Curtis Cup and the Walker Cup. The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis, which staged the 1957 Walker Cup and the 1998 Curtis Cup, and Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y., which staged the 1997 Walker Cup and will be the site of the 2018 Curtis Cup, are the other two.
The Curtis Cup Match will return to the other side of the pond in 2020 at Conwy Golf Club in Caemarvonshire, Wales before Merion’s turn in 2022.
As for another U.S Open at Merion … I’ve got a theory. How about 2030, the 100th anniversary of Bobby Jones completing the old Grand Slam by winning the 1930 U.S. Amateur at Merion? Given the USGA’s sense of history, it makes sense to me.