Top Philadelphia Public Golf Courses
Though illustrious private clubs overshadow the roster of the metro-area’s somewhat under-represented public-access stalwarts, the top Philadelphia public golf courses contain a number of very worthy and noteworthy eighteens in the city’s orbit.
The Olde Course at Cobbs Creek Golf Club (pictured above) has carved out its own history. Designed by Hugh Wilson of Merion fame, this tree-lined 1916 jewel, Philadelphia’s first public 18, is still considered one of the finest munis in the land. It hosted the 1928 USGA Amateur Public Links and the two-year run in the 1950s of the PGA Tour’s Philadelphia Daily News Open.
Jeffersonville Golf Club is Donald Ross’ fine contribution to public golf in Philadelphia. Ron Pritchard, a noted Ross restorer who also did tremendous work at Aronimink, refreshed the 1931-vintage course in 2001.
Though it is 65 miles from the City of Brotherly Love, Atlantic City is often considered a satellite of Philadelphia. The golf jewel of this popular resort getaway is Atlantic City Country Club, a William Flynn masterpiece set on Lakes Bay and showcasing the Atlantic City skyline. The course, which has been brilliantly restored and updated by Tom Doak, went from exclusively private to public more than a decade ago. A plaque by the practice green commemorates the club’s contribution of the term “birdie” to the lexicon of the game, although the legend that its first use came after a shot actually hit a bird is almost assuredly apocryphal. Not surprisingly, the first use of “eagle” for two below par is also attributed to Atlantic City CC.
Another great public Philadelphia golf course story is The Golf Course at Glen Mills. This bold, hilly Bobby Weed layout, Philadelphia’s top-rated public track, is adjacent to the Glen Mills School, the oldest residential school in the country for troubled youths. The course serves as a career and technical education extension for the school. Some 60 Glen Mills graduates are now working in the golf industry.
Other prominent course architects who have added to Philadelphia’s public golf legacy. In West Chester, Rees Jones’s Broad Run Golfer’s Club (formerly Tattersall) is a very hilly test with dramatic plunging holes. Stephen Kay routed Scotland Run Golf Club around an old sand-mining operation. Gil Hanse made his mark with Inniscrone Golf Club, his first solo design. Inniscrone was originally a top-100-caliber private course that fell into disrepair due to ownership changes and lax maintenance. Thankfully, this now public-access club is much improved and worthy of a fresh look.
To call Philadelphia golf-rich is an understatement. Public Philadelphia’s golf courses have made great contributions to the history of golf in America. Better still, with so many renowned and revered playing fields, Philadelphia’s story is still being written.