The suburban Philadelphia club with a William Flynn-designed course had a challenging end to its first century but is “coming back with a lot of younger members,” according to its current President. The oldest living member is 103, having joined in 1943.
On May 24, 1912, Plymouth (Pa.) Country Club, in suburban Philadelphia, was granted a charter in Montgomery County Court.
There was no golf course yet on that date, just a parcel of land and a vision, reports the Norristown (Pa.) Times-Herald.
The original layout for the course was nine holes, spread over 69 acres on the current site of the club. Additional land would be bought, renowned architect William S. Flynn would be brought in, and the current 18-hole layout was completed in 1927.
The members at Plymouth have been looking forward to 2012 for quite some time, the Times-Herald notes, as the chance to trumpet a century of golf and fellowship and breathe a sigh of relief after a challenging end to its first century.
“A hundred years is a long time for any organization to remain viable,” said the current club President, Chuck Caparo. “We have planned a lot of events to mark the 100th year. We started on opening day in April. [On May 20], we have our Pro-Member Tournament and we will be marking some milestones there. We have our big Member-Guest in June and the Club Championship in July, and all will have the 100-year theme to them.
“It all culminates on Nov. 3 with a formal gala dinner,” Caparo said.
When the club held its 50th-year gala in June 1962, the Times-Herald notes, some of its original members were in attendance. Fifty years later, that is no longer possible, but the club does plan to honor its oldest living member, Leona Sayre, who at 103 has been part of the Plymouth family since 1943—and won the first of her women’s club championships 59 years ago.
“We’ve been doing a lot of research for this,” Caparo said of the centennial celebration. “We found some information, but it’s not always the information we wanted to find.”
The crown jewel for Caparo would be to come across a scorecard from the original nine-hole layout, even prior to the Flynn design.
“We have no clue who did the original nine,” he said. “It might have been the members from back then, for all we know. William Flynn came here and made the 18-hole course.”
Having the Flynn name on the mantle is a big feather in the cap for Plymouth CC, as Flynn’s name is frequently mentioned in the same breath as others on the Mount Rushmore of golf course designers.
In the Philadelphia area alone, Flynn designed Huntingdon Valley CC, Philadelphia CC’s Spring Mill course, Green Valley CC, Rolling Green GC, Manufacturers’ G&CC, the North Course at Philmont CC, Bala GC, Concord CC, Doylestown CC, Lehigh CC and Atlantic City CC.
Flynn also helped Hugh Wilson complete the East Course at Merion Golf Club in the Philadelphia suburb of Ardmore. His nationally known designs outside Philadelphia include U.S. Open courses Shinnecock Hills on Long Island, The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., and Cherry Hills CC near Denver.
Flynn and Donald Ross worked on the East Course at Pocono Manor in north central Pennsylvania, which is also turning 100 in 2012. And Ross has his own Philadelphia-area design reaching the century mark this year with LuLu Country Club.
“Most of the holes are still where Flynn intended,” Caparo said of Plymouth, “other than the [par-4] second hole, which was more of a straight hole in his plan.”
An aerial photo of the course circa 1939 hangs in Plymouth’s pro shop.
There have been just nine head golf professionals at Plymouth, with Pete DeAngelis being the longest-tenured, at over 40 years. The current pro, Chris Hanson, has been at the club 14 years.
Plymouth is welcoming an anniversary year that gives it a chance to celebrate. “Things were tough the last four to five years,” Caparo said, “but we’re coming back with a lot of younger members. We have added some good quality people, some nice families.”