| Club History || |
Golf got its start in the Huntingdon Valley area in a rather intriguing fashion. The late Percy C. Madeira, chairman of Huntingdon Valley Country Club’s first green committee, recalled the stirrings of the game in a sketch published some 80 years ago in the Valleyman, the club’s house organ:
There was developed at that time a captive golf ball which some may remember. It consisted of a golf ball attached to a cord, the latter being wound up in a small iron box or case about six inches in diameter, which was pegged to the ground, and then the golf ball was hit and a dial at the top of the box, revolving as the cord went out, indicated the distance that the ball traveled. I secured one, and the enthusiasts who gathered at my country home, ’Brookwood,’ in those days, used to drive the golf ball in this fashion until it was finally thought that we might evolve a golf course of our own. The alleged golf course was then started on my place, which ran across what is now Meeting House Road (then unopened) to Mr. Caleb F. Fox’s place, thence over his lawn and back again, making nine crude holes. Of course it was very rough, and I cannot say it was much played over. At any rate, the seed had been sown, and the game of golf was started.
The Huntingdon Valley Country Club was founded in 1897 and a nine-hole course laid out at Rydal by a Scottish professional named John Reid. Mr. Madeira remembers the first hole: ". . . . The green was located between the Valley Road and the railroad ... a small leveled-off space, about 20 feet in diameter, and the player was supposed to carry the creek on his second shot, and probably on the third clear the row of trees along the Valley Road and land on this little dinner plate of a green. This made a hole of such difficulty that it was impractical. . . ."
Huntingdon Valley’s second clubhouse, the Noble Mansion, 1901.
Within two years the club, whose membership had grown rapidly and whose board of governors was liberally sprinkled with well-known Philadelphia names (Lippincott, Elkins, Sinkler, Stoddart, Wanamaker, Widener, Madeira), acquired adjacent property. The Noble Mansion, on Old York Road, became the clubhouse (ample accommodations for servants, plus excellent stabling arrangements), and an additional nine holes were laid out. The result was one of the longest (6,326 yards, par 77) and most challenging 18-hole courses in the country, all of it over land that ranged from rolling to hilly. The outbound half—one suspects that this must have been the new nine—measured 3,464 yards against a par of 40. Holes 2, 3, and 4 (414 yards, 394,396) were all rated 4 1/2s. And the next three holes consisted of a par 5 (485 yards), a 5 1/2 (528 yards), and another 5 (490 yards). No wonder the club was soon to develop a number of the ablest players in the district, all of whom felt that, in contrast to their home courses, other courses were a snap.
Huntingdon Valley joined the Golf Association of Philadelphia and the Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia in 1898, the fifth club to be elected to membership in both.