televised golf, led the broadcast.
Llanerch’s hosted four Philadelphia
Amateurs, three Philadelphia Opens and
two Patterson Cups. It makes regular ap-
pearances on the Pennsylvania State Golf
Association calendar and it is the permanent home for the Women’s
Golf Association of Philadelphia Charlotte H. Barnhard Cup. The Phil-
adelphia Section of the PGA has brought its Championship to Llanerch
“It’s important we give back to the community, and the membership
feels the same,” said Pomante “I don’t think that’ll ever change. The
membership loves showing off the course and the club.”
Playing wise, club pro Denny Shute – one of just six head golf profes-
sionals all time – was the most decorated. In his first year at Llanerch,
1933, he won the British Open. He later won two PGA Championships
and was a member of three Ryder Cups (1932, 1933, 1937). Shute was
named to the PGA and World Golf Hall of Fames. He left to play fulltime
on the TOUR and was replaced by Lyons.
Lyons story is worthy of a book. He started at the club in 1914 as a
caddie, quit school at age 16, advanced up through the ranks to caddiemaster and assistant professional, before replacing Shute in 1935. He was
still the Llanerch pro when he died suddenly in 1968 – at a Philadelphia
Lyons was a player, a teacher and a visionary. He and Jimmy D’Angelo
were directly responsible for starting the first PGA national golf club in
St. Petersburg, Fla. in 1943 at Dunedin Isles Country Club.
While serving as Philly PGA Section President from 1942-47, he was
the voice in establishing golf courses throughout the area for World War
II veterans. Part-and-parcel to that was scheduling exhibition matches
to help the War effort. Bing Crosby and Bob Hope played a match at
Llanerch in May 1943. Despite some rainy conditions, 6,000 patrons
paid $1 to enter. Crosby and Hope played with PGA President Ed Dudley
and Philadelphia Country Club professional McSpaden.
Lyons’ aforementioned influence on the PGA Championship changed
golf, and that tournament’s bottom line, forever. However, his greatest
passion was teaching. He is believed to have started, or at least cultivated,
the Junior Program concept locally. He loved to give lessons. His prized
pupils were Dorothy Germain Porter and Buddy Marucci.
In the early 1940s, Porter won a number of Philadelphia Junior and
amateur championships, including the first of her three Pennsylvania
Women’s Amateurs in 1946. Porter took the 1949 U.S. Women’s Amateur. She was a U.S. representative for the victorious side in the 1950
Curtis Cup and captained the 1966 team to victory. In 1977, she won
the first of four U.S. Senior Women’s Amateurs (1980, 1981, 1983).
Porter was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
Marucci was a three-time high school champion out of Haverford
High. He won four Pennsylvania State Amateurs (1982, 1983, 1987,
1991) and two Philadelphia Amateurs (1979, 1985). He lost in the 1995
U.S. Amateur Final to then 19-year-old Tiger Woods. Marucci played on
the 1995 and 1997 Walker Cup teams for America and was the captain
in 2007 and 2009 (both victories). Like Porter, he, too, is a national
champion, winning the 2008 U.S. Senior Amateur Championship.
The Llanerch Junior program remains strong today with alums
Michael McDermott, Billy Stewart and PGA TOUR rookie Vince Covello
leading the way.
And if that isn’t enough, how about member Howard Rexford? Sure,
he was a multiple-time club champion. More impressively, he was a
19-year-old caddie for Bob Jones when Jones completed golf’s grand
slam at Merion Golf Club in 1930.
Here is an excerpt from the New York Times article dated June 20, 1971.
“I turned down being Chick Evans’s caddie that year,” Rexford said,
referring to the golfer who had won the United States Open in 1916 and
the United States Amateur in both 1916 and 1920. “I lived near Merion,
and I caddied there all the time, and one day I was Mr. Harry Haws’s
After that round, Rexford noticed Haws talking to the caddiemaster at
the club that has become a shrine of American golf.
“I overheard him saying, ‘I want this boy to caddie for Jones,’ but
before that, my brother had written a letter to Chick Evans, telling him
about me. The day Chick Evans arrived for the tournament, I met him in
the parking lot and told him I had a chance to caddie for Jones.
“Chick Evans told me, ‘Son, if you’ve got Jones, you’ve got the best
man, keep him.’ o
“THE ONE WORD I WOULD FOCUS ON IS FAMILY,”
said Neil McDermott, 72, of Newtown Square, Pa., who served as club
president from 2010-11. “You can still see it today. Go over to the pool,
the tennis program. All aspects of the club emphasize getting the youth
involved as well as the adults. It’s a place you want to be part of.”
The initial four tennis courts were built in 1976. Three more added in
1987. There are 79 tennis members.
Swimming continues to gain traction as well with strong participation
numbers (143 this year). A new pool house debuted in 2010.
It’s a family and friends theme 24/7 at Llanerch. Why would one go
The numbers say they don’t. m
“IT’S IMPORTANT WE GIVE BACK TO
THE COMMUNITY AND THE MEMBER-
SHIP FEELS THE SAME. I DON’T THINK
THAT’LL EVER CHANGE.”
– Bob Pomante, Llanerch president
At right, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope played an exhibition
match at Llanerch to raise funds for WWII in May 1943.