McCall Golf Club
|McCall Golf Club|
201 North Lynn Boulevard
Upper Darby, PA 19082
Architect: Ross & Flynn
view larger map
The same year that Green Valley was founded, 1919, saw golf played for the first time at Philadelphia Electric Company’s recreational facility, McCall Field. The game, however, was a Johnny -come-lately on this sporting scene, a 77-acre tract of land in Highland Park operated today by the PECO Athletic Association.
It was in 1912 that Philadelphia Electric Company acquired the property for the use of its employees. At first, baseball was the principal sport. Archery, trapshooting, tennis, and soccer also had their adherents, as did track and field events. In 1919 a golf course was built. And though its designer was the eminent Donald Ross, his assignment was a modest one.
Old clubhouse at McCall Field on one of the opening days circa 1920
Ross happened to be in the Philadelphia area at the time, probably because of his work at Gulph Mills, where, one may speculate, perhaps one or two Philadelphia Electric executives—or Philadelphia Electric directors—were members. In any event, he was persuaded to come over to McCall Field and lay out what a PECO account calls "a miniature course." This is not to be confused with Tom Thumb golf.
The Ross nine was made up solely of one-shotters, average length of them about 120 yards. No turfgrass was planted. The greens consisted simply of meadow grass cut short. Philadelphia Electric bought 12 sets of second-hand golf clubs to lend to its employees. Each set contained a midiron (about the loft of today’s 2-iron), a mashie (5-iron), and a putter. There were no woods because no hole demanded a long hit. And no niblick because, one assumes, there were no sand bunkers.
It may have been a primitive excuse for golf, "but the sport caught like wildfire." The company soon purchased 36 new sets of clubs, tournaments were arranged, and the little nine was now thronged.
In 1920, four outstanding local amateurs—Woody Platt, Walter Reynolds, George W. Hoffner, and Edward C. Cleary—played an exhibition match, which drew a large gallery. And when, the following year, Florence Vanderbeck and Glenna Collett demonstrated their impressive skills, the appetite of Philadelphia Electric employees for golf was even further whetted.
In 1922, an addition to the clubhouse was built. That same year, William Flynn was commissioned to design a nine-hole course (this time there would be par 4s as well as par 3s) and to develop plans for an 18-hole layout. The Flynn nine opened for play in May 1923. Five years later, the course was extended to 15 holes, and in July 1935, the 18-hole course was completed. There have been no major changes to McCall Field since that time. And though it is the shortest 18 among Golf Association of Philadelphia courses—4,448 yards from the tips, par 66, course rating 61.6, slope 111, only four holes more than 300 yards, no par 5s—the routing of the holes has both variety and interest, the changes in elevation have been used to full advantage, the small greens make elusive targets, and the stream—none other than the indispensable Cobbs Creek—has been brought tellingly into play on several holes, most notably 12 and 14.