Old York Road Country Club
|Old York Road Country Club|
801 Tennis Avenue
Spring House, PA 19477
Architect: William and David Gordon
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In 1909, a small group of Jenkintown residents, many of whom were Quakers, began meeting to discuss forming a local golf club. On Feb. 17, 1910 the first officially recorded meeting of this new Club was held and a group of seven men were empowered to obtain an option on 67 acres of land, on Old York Road in Jenkintown, from Abington Friends Meeting.
Buttonholing their friends and acquaintances in Jenkintown, Wyncote, Ogontz, Glenside, Melrose, Elkins Park and Oak Lane, the group committed to the formation of a club that would include a nine-hole, 3,000-yard golf course, designed by Jimmy Lang, former professional at Huntingdon Valley Country Club. Exclusive of seed and fertilizer the cost to build the nine was $648.
Members were charged a $25 entrance fee and annual dues were $25. The rent paid to Abington Friends Meeting was $1,500 per year. Old York Road Country Club officially opened on June 4, 1910 with putting and driving contests for men and ladies, a baseball game, a reception and tea, and a dinner dance. After one year the club had 250 members and 30 on the waiting list. In 1912, an additional 35 acres were leased to create an 18-hole layout that opened in 1913.
Old York Road’s clubhouse photographed in June 1911, one year after its opening
The first Old York Road Invitational was held in July 1920. E.C. Clarey of Bala captured the inaugural two-day event. Over the years, other winners of Invitational, one of the oldest tournaments of its kind in the region, include J. Wood Platt, William Hyndman III and Jay Sigel, to name just a few.
In 1962, the Club faced its most daunting challenge ever. Under obligation to put its land to the most profitable use in order to support its expanding school, the Trustees of Abington Friends Meeting requested that Old York Road CC relocate. Forced to start over after 52 years, 57 properties were inspected by the Club’s search committee before selecting the 126 acre Bennerbrook Farm, located in Spring House, Pa. A sum of $250,000 was spent to acquire the land and $500,000 was spent to renovate the Manor House, Cannon House and Barn, as well as convert the cornfields into an 18-hole golf course.
William and David Gordon were contracted to design and construct the course. One hundred and sixty-four members committed to make the move to Spring House and the first ball was struck from the first tee of the new course on July 4, 1963. Measuring 6,600 yards from the back tees, the Gordons created a great walking course that is a demanding test of golf. Length is not the challenge. The course difficulty lies in hitting precise approach shots and putting the fast, severely sloped, undulating greens.
To learn more about Old York Road’s history, check out the Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine piece on the club’s centennial, which appeared in the Summer 2010 issue.