The boys hoofed across the East Falls Bridge to earn nickels and imes a bag at Philadelphia Country Club. Those boys later became some of the most recognizable men
manning pro shops throughout the area.
Those men gathered frequently at a bar beyond the East Falls Bridge.
The bar banter therein gave birth to the East Falls Open, which
celebrates its centennial in 2019.
“In the years leading up to 1920, they would get together
at The Gunboat on Ridge Avenue at the base of East Falls and
just a few steps away from the East Falls Bridge,” Chris Kall-
meyer, who serves on a six-person committee representing
the East Falls Golf Association, said. “They would share
stories and brag about their games. The idea of the East
Falls Open was hatched at that point.”
With time came tweaks (format, eligibility, host site,
etc.) to said idea. What remains is the camaraderie and
competition within the East Falls Open, which took
place Sept. 9 at Sandy Run Country Club.
“There are three ingredients [that brought East Falls to
a centennial]: several generations of leadership, the players
and the sponsors who support us financially to keep the
cost down and make it accessible and being open to people
of all walks of life,” Kallmeyer, 48, of Philadelphia, Pa., said.
“It’s really amateur golf in the broadest topical sense. It is all
over the map handicap-wise. Our event appeals to people of
all different playing abilities and gives them a chance to
compete and to hit shots that matter.”
East Falls is one of nearly 200 neighborhoods within the city limits
of Philadelphia proper. Out of that populous grew the oldest neighbor-
hood golf tournament in the country.
During the early 1900s, the youth of East Falls cut their caddie chops
at Philadelphia Country Club, then located off City Line Avenue in Bala
Cynwyd, Pa. A whopping 48 emerged from that caddie yard to be-
come golf professionals, clubmakers, salesmen, superintendents and
caddiemasters throughout the country. Most – if not all – took part
in the East Falls Open. The then 36-hole, one-day stroke play event
stood as a Major among local professionals and amateurs alike.
An inflection point, according to Kallmeyer, occurred in
1938, when the tournament’s focus shifted strictly to East
Falls. Only residency (past or present) and descendancy de-
termined eligibility. East Falls also commissioned the John
B. Kelly Trophy, named in honor of a famed Olympic rower
and former Philadelphia Country Club caddie, in 1938.
Kelly, however, isn’t the only prized name asso-
ciated with East Falls lineage. To unearth more of its past
proponents, Kallmeyer connected with Pete Trenham, the
official/unofficial Philadelphia Section PGA historian. The two
appeared on an “Inside Golf” episode and a Silver Club Golf-
ing Society podcast in advance of the 100th East Falls Open,
shedding light on names and nuggets.
“These guys from East Falls were amazing. I knew
about them before I started digging this stuff up because
people talked about these guys,” Trenham, 82, of Berwyn,
BRIDGE OVER CENTENNIAL WATERS
East Falls Open celebrates anniversary By Tony Regina