FOR YEARS, the two courses at Philmont were attributed to a pair of men: Willie Park, Jr. (South) and William Flynn (North). When developing the club’s centen- nial book in 2006, research
led authors Bob Labbance and Patrick White to
the conclusion that the original (South) course
was created by Philmont’s first professional,
John Reid. Additional documentation pointed
to the assistance of Hugh Wilson of Merion
Golf Club fame.
However, as Labbance and White investi-
gated the North Course, the claim that it was
laid out by Flynn could not be proven. They
did, however, find a letter in the 1924 Philmont
Annual Report from J. Wood Platt, one of the
most respected players in the history of the
GAP, to Philmont’s President Ellis Gimbel. In the
letter, Platt praised the newly founded North
Course as “one of Willie Park’s masterpieces,
and for scenery and real golf it should be a
course for the Philmont members to be proud
of for many years to come.”
White knew that more information must be
out there, but the lack of accessible documents
made that discovery impossible at the time.
Labbance devised a theory that Park was most
likely commissioned to design the course, but
subsequently fell ill, so Howard Toomey and
Flynn must have come in to finish the job. This
made sense because of the proximity of Toomey
and Flynn’s office to Philmont and their breadth
of work. The connection to Toomey and Flynn
was also linked to a photo hanging in the men’s
locker room featuring architect William F. Gordon
with Arthur Davis (the original greenkeeper) and
Henry Strouse (the club’s Vice Greens Chairman).
Most associated Gordon with Toomey and Flynn,
where he worked from 1925-41.
What most don’t know is that before joining
Toomey and Flynn, Gordon was a construction
supervisor for Carter’s Tested Seeds, during
which time he oversaw construction for a
number of well-respected architects, including
Park, Donald Ross and Devereaux Emmet.
Gordon was a native New Yorker who arrived
in Philadelphia to oversee the construction of
Philmont for Park.
The Philmont connection to Park has been
further corroborated with the help of golf
Architect Andrew Green, who is working to rebuild Philmont Country Club’s North Course, and
Matthew Brookman, a Philmont member and avid historian, worked to uncover the unclear
past of the Huntingdon Valley, Pa. venue. The following is an excerpt from their research findings.
Philmont deciphers mystery
golf course architects . . . . .