Cedarbrook Country Club
|Cedarbrook Country Club|
180 Penllyn Pike
Blue Bell, PA 19422
Architect: W.F. Mitchell
view larger map
Today’s Cedarbrook Country Club is a direct outgrowth of Stenton Country Club, which was founded in 1909 and played its golf on leased ground near Stenton Avenue and Washington Lane in the Chestnut Hill section of the city. But within 10 years this land had grown substantially in value. Unable to renew its lease, the club examined a number of sites in North Philadelphia, and in 1919 purchased a tract known then as Cedarbrook Farm. It was bounded by Cheltenham Avenue, Easton Road and Limekiln Turnpike.
The Stenton members who led the move north were George M. Bridgeman, W.G. McKechney, John E. Wick, Al Pierce, Porter Paine, and A. Raymond Raff. A decision was made to rename the organization Cedarbrook Country Club. Michael Hanson was elected president. He was succeeded by George Bridgeman.
A.W. Tillinghast was commissioned to lay out the course. Though most of the designs for which he would become celebrated were still several years in the future, he had already fashioned two of his best, the eighteens at San Francisco Golf Club and at Somerset Hills, in northern New Jersey. While the 45-year-old Tillinghast was bringing his talents to bear here on gently rolling land that had been used chiefly for grazing cattle, the members, whose lease had expired at the Stenton Avenue course in late summer of 1920, were temporarily playing their golf at Sandy Run, thanks to a special arrangement with that hospitable club.
On the Fourth of July 1921, the course and clubhouse in Cheltenham Township were formally opened. J. Hampton Moore, Mayor of Philadelphia, personally raised the club emblem to the top of the flagpole and, in a brief address, predicted a long and prosperous life for Cedarbrook. He did not guarantee that the club would stay put.
Cedarbrook’s clubhouse as it appeared in the mid-1940s, when the club was located in Cheltenham
It was in the late 1920s that Donald Ross was brought in to revise the Tillinghast design. By and large, the original routing plan was retained. But holes were lengthened, bunkering was made more stringent, and a creek brought more prominently into play. One of only two Philadelphia courses designed by the great Tillinghast now also bore the stamp of the great Ross. Nobody’s design was sacred. And in the years to come, numerous additional changes were effected, some aimed at toughening the layout, others with a view toward eliminating what some judged to be unfairly penal situations. It was here in 1947 that the 4th Annual Inquirer Invitation was held, with Ben Hogan dueling Bobby Locke.
During the 1940s, Temple University offered on three occasions to purchase the club property for a second campus. Each time the club declined. In 1955, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as part of its highway program, acquired, through condemnation, 20 1/2 acres of Cedarbrook’s land for use in the construction of the Route 309 Expressway. Serious consideration was at first given to revising the course and rehabilitating the clubhouse, but in September, 1958, a resolution to sell the property for the specific purpose of relocation was passed by the membership.
Four years later, in June 1962, a new Cedarbrook course designed by Massachusetts’ William F. Mitchell in consultation with William F. Gordon, of Doylestown, would open in Blue Bell.
For more on Cedarbrook’s history, check out the Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine piece on the club’s centennial, which appeared in the Winter 2009 edition.