Member Club Profile
A definitive answer carries consequence;
the Wilson imprimatur comes with distinct cachet and there’s never been much Wilson to
go around. The hand that transformed an exhausted Ardmore farm field into the miracle of
Merion’s East Course wielded itself sparingly. You
can count his creations on your fingers: Merion
East, Merion West, Seaview and Cobbs Creek
with – for good measure – pieces of Pine Valley and tweaks to Philmont and North Hills. Is
Phoenixville, celebrating its 100th anniversary
this year, in their company?
If only we knew for sure. But there’s no proof in
the club minutes. Nor in reports of the day. Nor in
Wilson’s letters. Any memories with direct connection to the club’s genesis disappeared long ago.
Still, suggests club president Matt Manders
with palpable pride and believer’s hope, “There’s
a lot to indicate that Wilson was here – and I’ve
never seen any smoking gun that says no.”
Let’s scroll back to 1915.
Golf was no longer new around Philadelphia
then, but an important piece of its continued
health was iffy because courses laid out on leased
property – as several were – existed solely at the
mercy of the landowner. Real estate was hot;
rents were rising and development was more
lucrative than golf. Hence, Merion moved from
Haverford, Pa. to Ardmore, Pa. Sunnybrook broke
from Philadelphia Cricket Club and Gulph Mills
opted to spin off from St. Davids – all to secure
title to the land beneath their spikes.
Phoenixville Golf Club – six holes in a literal
cow pasture on White Horse Road – found itself
in the same golf cart. In late 1914, its landlord
called a mulligan; the club could have one more
season, but he wanted his property back after
that. “He pulled the rug right out from under
them,” said John Sikorski, Phoenixville’s de facto
historian and a four-time senior champion.
So the members found a new rug.
Led by J. Whitaker Thompson, a federal
judge appointed by the golf-loving President
William Howard Taft, they took an option on the
Prideful Phoenixville with its
fantastic fables turns 100 _____________ BY JEFF SILVERMAN _____________
Well, are they or aren’t they?
It’s the question that keeps hovering over a patch of land in the shadow of
Valley Forge Mountain on Chester County’s eastern tip – and it’s a tantalizing one. Are the nine compact and intriguing holes comprising Phoenixville
Country Club – in fact – the vision of one Hugh Irvine Wilson?
Hole No. 4