| Club History || |
By its own admission, "Sunnybrook was organized by six ’crusaders’ who defected from the Philadelphia Cricket Club in 1913." All were prominent on the Philadelphia business and social scenes—William Findlay Brown, Charles T. Cowperthwait, James A. Janney, Jr., Samuel Y. Heebner, George C. Thomas, and Joseph S. Clark. What’s more, the last three were quite well known in golfing circles. Samuel Heebner had been president of the Golf Association of Philadelphia from 1899 to 1905. George Thomas had designed and built Whitemarsh Valley on his estate, Bloomfield Farm. And Joseph S. Clark was one of the three members of the Organizing Committee of Pine Valley Golf club.
There were two main considerations underlying the decision to found Sunnybrook. First, Philadelphia Cricket Club did not own the land on which its course was built at St. Martins. It belonged to the Houston estate, and since this ground had by now become extremely valuable for residential development, there was reasonable doubt as to the future of golf in this section of Chestnut Hill.
Second—and perhaps at least as compelling—what the "crusaders" were crusading for was a simple place where kindred spirits might get together for a game of golf on a good course. The club would be small—no worry about getting off the first tee and no crowding once you started the round. The problems associated with a large and diverse membership, the trappings of country club life— these would have no place here. Sunnybrook would be, in the purest sense, a golf club.
In July, 1913, the founders purchased a farm lying between Mill Road and Haws Lane, east of Church Road, in Flourtown. On March 7, 1914, the Sunnybrook Golf Club was chartered. The course, designed by Donald Ross, opened for play more than a year later, on Decoration Day (as it was always referred to then). May 30,1915. An old farmhouse just north of the 13th green served as the original clubhouse.
On Decoration Day, 1928, a new and larger clubhouse opened. And for nearly 30 more years golf was enjoyed here in Flourtown. The course possessed some outstanding holes. Both the 5th and 6th, long par 4s, required well-hit shots to carry the stream for which the club was named. The 13th, with the same creek meandering across the fairway, then edging up to the green, where willow trees grew, was lovely and testing. And the par-3 16th was memorable for its treacherous double-tiered green.
In 1954 a combination of circumstances, including the impending construction of the new Route 309, which would have claimed the 5th green and the land immediately surrounding it, prompted the club to seek a new location. Happily, a beautiful, rolling 135-acre site was found not far away, the old William Disston farm, in Plymouth Meeting.