The club was just hitting the peak of its
expansion in 1929, including a modern
clubhouse addition, when financial doom
arrived. An emergency meeting was called
on Halloween night. A proposition to close
the doors was presented. Despite the money
struggles, the idea to close the club was
immediately shot down.
In the following year, membership numbers
declined rapidly. Both the president and vice
president of the club walked out the door. An
estimated $25,000 was needed for Green Valley to survive the calendar year, while a measly
$1,500 was the club’s projected revenue.
Would one of the area’s finest facilities be
forced to close for good?
For a second time, Green Valley’s grass
grew greener. Optimism surfaced when a
$300,000 mortgage was secured. Samuel
Houston, “the first benefactor of the club,”
was the mortgagee, and in turn, Green Valley’s
savior. The club paid little-to-no rent, and no
interest on the mortgage owed, for several
years. But as Roxborough’s rocky terrain
began to challenge course conditions, a new
landscape was needed.
It wasn’t until 1948 that Green Valley
found its permanent home in Lafayette Hill,
Pa. Purchased directly from Mr. William Flynn
himself, the membership bought the famed
architect’s Marble Hall Public Golf Course
and made it their own. One-hundred and 82
acres now made up the boundaries of Green
Valley’s gently rolling hills and fairways.
“We bought this course from Mr. Flynn
himself. That’s something we will never forget,”
said Greg Marks, Green Valley’s vice president
and golf chairman. “Not many clubs can say
that, and it’s something we remember when we
talk about renovating the course itself. Our goal
is to maintain Flynn’s masterpiece.”
SIMPLY MAINTAINING THE MASTERPIECE
over the years has been the recipe for success.
The general consensus is no major changes
need to be made on a course with undeniable
playability. Renovations haven’t been common – the last coming more than 20 years
ago – but small projects are always underway
at the club, whether it be removing a few
trees each season or improving the putting
green and short game practice area, which
was done in 2005.
“You’ll never grow tired of playing this place.
I’ve been playing it for years, and it still finds
ways to surprise me, especially on our greens,”
said Head Professional John Cooper. “Throw
in the short game facility, which I believe to be
one of the finest in the area, and it’s easy to see
Contrary to other Flynn courses, drastic
elevation changes are not in the picture.
Instead, the course is defended by its sloping
greens, described by some newcomers “as the
hardest they’ve ever putted on.”
“There is no question that the putting surfac-
es are our defense,” said Cooper. “[Superinten-
dent] Sean Remington does a great job keeping
the greens rolling around a 10. If we cut them
real low, and get them rolling past a 12 or so,
the slope is too much to handle. That’s just
how this golf course was designed and it helps
keep the pace of play healthy. Rounds are
always played under four hours here.”
COMPARED TO ITS EARLY TEE SHEETS,
Green Valley has fostered some of Philadelphia’s best. Theodore Johnston took the
1930 Philadelphia Amateur at Pine Valley Golf
Club. George Griffin, Sr., the club’s first head
professional, won the 1932 Open Championship at Paxon Hollow. His son, George, Jr.,
went on to win the 1953 Open on home turf.
A third “Grif,” George III, was later hired as
the third Griffin to hold the Green Valley golf
Ann Netsky, one of the finest Women’s
Golf Association of Philadelphia players in
the 1960s and 70s, took the WGAP Match
Play Championship titles in 1966 and 1971.
Andrew Wallace, a prominent GAP Junior
player and member of last year’s Williamson
Cup team, can be found perfecting his craft
there. Ben Feld, the 2017 GAP Middle-Amateur Champion and two-time BMW Philadelphia Amateur semifinalist, was introduced
to the game at Green Valley, where his
grandparents had been members for as long
as he could remember.
“I was fortunate enough to get to play on
holidays and weekends with my grandparents,
and also get my first lessons at Green Valley,”
said Feld, the current Drexel University men’s
golf coach. “Then when college came around,
I got my own membership in 2012. It just
made sense for me, because I love the course.
It’s one of Philly’s hidden gems and I really
believe it flies under the radar.”
GAP Majors have found it to be quite the
test. Most recently, the course served as a
stroke-play qualifying site for the 2018 BMW
Philadelphia Amateur Championship. The
annual Flynn Cup, a competition among Fly-
nn-designed courses, is set for Green Valley
“It’s a true test of golf. Not many players
are shooting under par out here,” said Marks.
“It’s also fantastic for all skill levels. No matter
your handicap, you can go out, play 18 and
enjoy it every single day. There’s not a single
Green Valley clubhouse in 1939