| Club History || |
It may be stretching fact a bit to claim that golfers battling par at Radley Run today do so on the same ground where the gallant Continentals led by George Washington battled the British/Hessian forces under General Howe in September, 1777. Still, there can be no question but what troop movements immediately prior to the Battle of the Brandywine took place on this very land. So if it is not hallowed ground, it is, at the very least, historic.
Registered as a historic dwelling, the Mansion House at Radley Run dates to 1770 and contains accommodations for members’ out-of-town guests.
Certainly Z. Edmund Prince, a Kennett Square real estate developer and former University of Delaware track and football coach, was not unmindful of this when, in 1963, he broached to Nicholas R. DuPont his concept of a country club community in the Brandywine Valley, several miles north of West Chester. DuPont was receptive to the idea, and in 1963 they purchased a total of some 1,200 acres, the bulk of it the Gilbert Mather estate, which extended into four separate townships of Chester County.
A massive old barn with a cork floor was designated for the clubhouse. Ellis Preston, a Wilmington architect, developed the plans for a conversion that made the most of the handsome fieldstone and wood siding. The interior design, under the supervision of Mrs. Nicholas R. DuPont, was equally sensitive to the early rural roots of this structure.
It was the stream running behind the clubhouse, a tributary of the Brandywine called Radley Run, that gave the club its name. John Radley had been a constable of Westtown Township in the late 17th century.
Alfred Tull, who had done considerable work in the area over a period of nearly 20 years (at Hercules, DuPont, and Brandywine), was chosen to design and build the course. Those associated with Tull envied him his remarkable ability to lay out individual holes and develop a routing plan for the entire course merely by walking the land and without resort to topographical maps.
In addition to the Radley Run itself, another stream, Plumb Run, meanders through the course. Tull made good use of both, with the result that there is water on half the holes, in the form of either a creek or a pond. Yet his use of water was restrained. A bad shot may indeed earn a dunking, but a pretty good shot will almost always avoid disaster. Perfect swings are not required.
The course is only moderately bunkered. By actual count there are a total of 60 bunkers. Those sand hazards defending the generous greens, which average nearly 8,000 square feet, are usually at a slight remove. Like Donald Ross, Tull felt that chipping should be an integral part of the game.
For those who like to let out shaft, as the old saying had it, the back tees on this par-72 layout produce yardage in excess of 6,900, thanks mainly to the four par fives, which range from 562 to 594 yards. From the members’ markers, the course is 6,384 yards.
Let the record show that Radley Run, with Chet Munson as its first golf professional, opened for play in 1965 on the 4th of July— not surprising when you recall this land’s link to the War of Independence.
To learn more about Radley Run’s history, check out the Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine piece on the club’s 50th birthday, which appeared in the Summer 2015 issue.