| Club History || |
There was a close relationship between Plymouth Country Club and Phoenixville Country Club in the early days of both. According to the commemorative booklet published by Phoenixville in 1990 on its 75th anniversary, when the new club’s golf committee, in 1915, tackled the task of laying out a nine-hole course, it received help from several Plymouth members who already had experience in this line of work.
Phoenixville Country Club was organized in May 1915, and was the successor to the Phoenixville Golf Club. No one knows for sure when the golf club was formed—in all likelihood no more than two years earlier—but when the farmer, from whom the golf club had rented enough ground for a six-hole course on White Horse Road, said that he now wanted to develop this land, the golfers decided, in mid-April 1915, to take an option on the Brittain farm, near Valley Forge. It was this move that prompted the founding of the Phoenixville Country Club (from the outset there would be tennis players as well as golfers), with J. Whitaker Thompson as the first president. A sum not to exceed $100 was authorized for "putting into shape the proposed fair greens and putting greens on the Brittain farm." In fact, $136.93 was spent for course construction and conditioning, but the board ungrudgingly voted approval for the "excess expenditure."
The original Phoenixville clubhouse dates back to 1917
The club paid $5,000 for its 56-acre tract of land, taking out a $2,500 mortgage for a term of three years. Since there was no money for a grounds crew—either to build or maintain the rudimentary nine—members volunteered to pick up stones, remove tree stumps, and perform a number of clean-up chores so that the game could be played. Not long after the course opened, in the late spring of 1916, the first competition was held. It was an interclub match with Plymouth.
By 1917, Phoenixville could boast 105 members. However, when dues were increased in 1919 from $15 to $20 for active members (all other members were required to pay $10 a year), membership fell to 90. But the following year the number surged to 115 Actives, with 18 Non-Residents, 31 Associates, and 16 Juniors helping to swell the ranks (and the coffers). By now the ladies were deeply involved in club activities, raising money with teas and socials for clubhouse improvements. These funds, which were placed in a separate bank account, sometimes exceeded the club’s cash on hand.
By the time the 1922 golf season opened, membership had increased to a total of 206, members were enjoying the benefits of electric lights in the clubhouse, and the first full-time greenkeeper was on the payroll. The early going had not been easy, but these years had provided a foundation of resilience and perseverance that would enable the club to withstand the adversity brought on later by the Great Depression and World War II.
To learn more about Phoenixville’s history, check out the Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine piece on the club’s centennial, which appeared in the Spring 2015 issue.