Merion Golf Club is no stranger to hosting major United States Golf Association events.

When the club hosts the United States Amateur in 2005, Merion will have hosted more USGA championships - 17 - than any other club in the USGA.

Baltusrol Golf Club runs a close second with 15 tournaments hosted.

And once again, Merion Golf Club's vast tournament experience paid dividends when USGA president Fred Ridley announced at the 58th Annual Golf Association of Philadelphia Pro-President Banquet at Old York Road Country Club that Merion will host the 2009 Walker Cup.

The Cup is one of the few USGA events that Merion has yet to host, and come 2009, Merion will add that distinction to its lengthy list of accomplishments.

"We had a dozen quality clubs vying for a chance to host the Walker Cup, so Merion Golf Club beat out a lot of quality courses," said Ridley. "The staff at Merion bent over backwards to bring this event here. Whatever suggestions we have made, they have been more than willing to take under consideration."

The Walker Cup - similar in format to the Ryder Cup - started in 1922, and takes place every odd year and pits 12-man amateur teams from Great Britain and Ireland and the United States. The Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, IL will host the 2005 Walker Cup on Aug. 13-14. The European contingent has won the last three Walker Cups.

Ridley, an accomplished golfer himself, played in the 1977 Walker Cup, and captained two other Walker Cup teams.

Merion is the second Philadelphia area club to host the Walker Cup. Pine Valley Golf Club did so on two occasions in 1936 and 1985.

"Inside the ropes, we know Merion will provide an excellent test of golf," said Ridley. "What goes on outside the ropes has always been the question when it comes to hosting any major event. We have all the confidence that Merion will do what it takes to make this event a success."

And that involves adequate parking, adequate space to comfortably host the sponsors and distinguished guests, and to provide for the many professionals competing in the tournament.

In a recent meeting, the USGA board voted unanimously for Merion to host the Cup.

Ridley is 100 days into his reign as USGA president, and has many plans in the works toward improving the USGA.

"Everything begins at the state and regional levels, and in my term I want to improve communication and utilize the many branches that make up the USGA including the GAP," said Ridley. "The junior program is another important focus. In the next 15 to 30 years, we want the junior golfers of today to be the core constituents of the USGA."

Ridley also stated that the USGA is vigorously researching the effects of technology on golf.

"Right now, we feel the game of golf is in good shape, but we will continue to monitor the effects of technology and equipment," said Ridley. "If we feel technology is hurting golf, we will be prepared to take the appropriate actions to fix the problem."

Championships have been the backbone of the USGA and GAP, and now the two entities will work hand-in-hand to ensure the Walker Cup is a success.

"I know the GAP has done an excellent job of hosting tournaments in the past," said Ridley. "Merion is set up to be a great match play course. Its short holes are very challenging, and the long holes are just going to get longer. Merion will definitely stand up to the competition for the U.S. Amateur and the Walker Cup."

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