A storied club in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the Philly Country Club hosted the 1939 US Open on a William Flynn layout that was altered in the years after the Open as its clubhouse was relocated from what is now the 14th tee to above the current 18th hole. At some point Perry Maxwell is believed to have sculpted some of the subsequent putting targets, among them the superb 17th, one of Philadelphia’s best par fours and a hole that bends right around a dense gully and toward a cool green site cut on a hillside shelf and angled steeply toward the gully. The hole is part of a strong run home, the long par three 15th across staggered traps into a shapely forward leaning green is very good, as is the 16th which drops abruptly toward a small, heavily bunkered target.
Generally the back nine here is steeper than the front, and also enjoys more difficulty and more interesting undulation. The front side highlight is the short par fours to start the round, each with small, sharply angled greens, plus the drop-kick par three 5th across a pond to a tiny, contoured green angled toward the water and further protected by a large tree that effectively blocks a back corner of the green. Throughout the round the putting surfaces are the core of the course’s charm, many are pinched tightly by traps or narrow entrance areas, while most lean steeply one way and are contoured to complicate approach shots for conservative players. A number are elevated and partly obscured from the golfer in the fairway, making approach play and distance control quite tricky to judge.
The Philadelphia Country Club isn’t quite in the same league as America’s elite courses, but this is wonderful club with a clever, interesting layout that boasts enough quality to keep golfers fully immersed in the task at hand.