USGA 2005 Course Preview: Merion, and More
01 Feb 2005
see also: U.S. Amateur Golf Championship, Riviera Country Club


Far Hills, New Jersey- In 2005, the USGA will take its national championships to some historic venues such as Merion Golf Club, Cherry Hills Country Club, Pinehurst No. 2 and The Apawamis Club.

But new sites also will have a chance to host a national championship like BanBury Golf Club (U.S. Girls' Junior), which will become the first course in Idaho to hold a USGA competition.

Each national championship site, as well as the venues for the biennial Walker Cup Match and USGA State Team competitions, have their own history and stories to tell.

Following are some quick facts about Merion Golf Club, -- site of the 2005 US Amateur -- followed by a link to similar information about all USGA Championship sites. amateurgolf.com Premium Members can find detailed information on all of these USGA events, and hundreds of independent tournaments of National import, by visiting our 'Majors of Amateur Golf' Calendar in the Tournaments section.

U.S. Amateur
Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pa.
Aug. 22-28
: 6,846 yards
Par: 36-34 – 70
Second stroke play course: (Philadelphia C.C.), 6,967 yards.
Par: 35-35 – 70
Defending champion: Ryan Moore
Opened: 1912
Designer: Hugh Wilson

USGA championships: This is the record 17th event to be held at this historic venue, following four U.S. Opens, five U.S. Amateurs, four U.S. Women’s Amateurs, a U.S. Girls’ Junior, a Curtis Cup Match and the 1960 World Amateur Team Championship. Merion also has been selected to host the 2009 Walker Cup.

Why it’s right: This is the 75th anniversary of Bob Jones’ completion of the “Grand Slam” when he defeated Gene Homans for the 1930 U.S. Amateur title. Merion also happened to be the site of Jones’ national debut as a 14-year-old at the 1916 U.S. Amateur and it’s where he won his first U.S. Amateur championship in 1924.

Wicker baskets, but no wickets: Once named The Merion Cricket Club, the club changed its name to Merion Golf Club in 1942. But the club still maintains its trademark wicker baskets on the flagsticks as they are less vulnerable to weather than the usual banners.

Notable champions: In addition to Jones, some of the other luminaries to win USGA titles at Merion are Lee Trevino (1971 U.S. Open in a playoff over Jack Nicklaus), Jones (two U.S. Amateurs), Chick Evans (1916 U.S. Amateur to go along with the U.S. Open crown he won earlier that year) and, of course, Ben Hogan, who won the 1950 U.S. Open after returning from a near-fatal auto accident in 1949. Hy Peskin’s photo of Hogan’s famous 1-iron approach to the 72nd hole remains one of the most memorable images in golf.

The bat is flat: Long before golf permeated the grounds of Merion, cricket was the pre-eminent sport. Nearby Haverford College introduced the game in 1835 and Philadelphia became the home of cricket in America. And in 1865, the Merion Cricket Club was established, with the oldest founder 22 and the youngest 14. The club first leased, then bought five acres of land at the end of a road called Cricket Avenue in Ardmore, Pa. In 1892, the club moved to its current site. Another well-known golf course in the area still uses “cricket” in its official club name (Philadelphia Cricket Club).

Designer notes: Architect Hugh Wilson traveled to Scotland to take notes on the many famous courses in the “Auld” country before mapping out the Merion layout. The third hole was inspired by North Berwick’s famous 15th hole (Redan) and No. 17, had a swale fronting the green, reminiscent of The Old Course at St. Andrews’ Valley of Sin at the 18th hole. But none of the holes are an exact replica; Wilson just incorporated those principles into his design.

Let’s play two: Merion became the first U.S. club to have two 18-hole championship courses. The West Course opened in 1914, two years after the more-famous East Course.

What’s the status?: The 1930 U.S. Amateur at Merion was reportedly  the first time match standings signs were used to inform the gallery of the current status of a particular match.

* David Shefter story courtesy usga.org *
For similar information on all USGA tournament sites for 2005 click here>

ABOUT THE U.S. Amateur

The U.S. Amateur, the oldest USGA championship, was first played in 1895 at Newport Golf Club in Rhode Island. The event, which has no age restriction, is open to those with a Handicap Index of 2.4 or lower. It is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. It is the pre-eminent amateur competition in the world. Applications are typically placed online, starting the third week in April at www.usga.org.

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