The 2016 UL International Crown has found a new home at the Merit Club in Gurnee. The LPGA announced on November 11 that the team match-play event that is scheduled to take place July 21-24 would be moving from the initial host course of Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove. The Merit Club will now replace Rich Harvest Farms, hosting its first major professional tournament since the 2000 US Women’s Open.
The news that the The Ladies Professional Golf Association would be returning to the Chicago area in 2016 with a new four-day, match-play event titled the International Crown was first announced in 2013. After hosting the wildly successful 2009 Solheim Cup, Rich Harvest Farms was considered the perfect choice for this one-of-a-kind golf event. Earlier this year, Northbrook-based UL (Underwriters Laboratories) was also named the title sponsor for the International Crown.
However, everything changed when the LPGA and Rich Harvest Farms announced that they had mutually agreed to relocate the 2016 UL International Crown. Both parties, however, remain open to future LPGA opportunities.
Given its history with the LPGA, the Merit Club in Gurnee makes perfect sense as a replacement venue for The International Crown. Opened in 1992, the Merit Club has been ranked among the top 100 golf courses in the United States by both Golfweek and Golf Magazine. Like Rich Harvest Farms, the Merit Club is a highly-respected private facility with a great deal of open space in and around the golf course.
“We were flattered by the many suitors with championship résumés who came forward with the hopes of providing the stage for this event,” said LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan. “The Merit Club has wonderful history and prestige and will offer a spectacular backdrop to see which country will take home the Crown. We think of the UL International Crown as an event that’s growing in global significance and making a major impact on women’s golf. The Merit Club helps us take that next step in many ways and we’re excited to partner together.”
“Everyone here at the Merit Club is excited for this opportunity,” said Donald W. Pieper, General Manager/Director of Golf at the Merit Club. “The U.S. Women’s Open was such a big success in 2000 and we can’t wait to showcase the world’s best golfers as they compete for their country to see who will take home the Crown.”
The International Crown is a biennial women’s tournament that was first contested in 2014 at Caves Valley Golf Club, in Owings Mills, Maryland and won by the team from Spain. Competitors for the 2016 International Crown will come from the eight countries at the top of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and the four highest ranked players from each of the qualifying countries will make up their respective teams.
The countries that qualified to compete in 2014 included Australia, Chinese Taipei, Japan, The Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United States and Thailand. The winning team from Spain included Beatriz Recari, Azahara Munoz, Belen Mozo and Carlota Ciganda.