Union League Golf Club at Torresdale
|Union League Golf Club at Torresdale|
3801 Grant Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19114
Architect: Donald Ross
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(Formerly Torresdale-Frankford Country Club)
At the close of 1896, golf saw its first stirring in a section of the city that has come to be called "the great Northeast." A form letter was circulated to a number of the more prominent business and professional men there:
In response to a desire that has been frequently expressed, it is proposed to organize a Country Club at Torresdale, where Golf, Cricket, Foot-Ball, Tennis, Bicycling and other sports may be indulged in.
A preliminary meeting will be held at the Red Lion Inn on Friday evening, December 11, 1896, at 8 o’clock. Stage will meet the 7:27 train from Broad Street, at Torresdale Station ....
Twenty men attended the December 11 meeting (and six others sent their approval), at which "it was decided to form a Country Club . . . with an initiation fee of $10 and annual dues of $20." Later that same month another meeting was held to adopt by-laws. Membership categories set forth were "active, contributing, summer, bicycle, Lady, and Junior." Lady, summer, and bicycle members paid annual dues of $5; for Juniors, the charge was $2. The by-laws also stipulated that "Bicycle Members... shall not have use of grounds." The Whelen property, on Knight’s Road and "in close proximity to Colonel Morrell’s race track," was chosen as a temporary meeting place for the club (the Colonel was one of the founding members).
Six months later, the membership count had climbed to a total of 195 (123 Active, 47 Lady et al) and 15 candidates for admission were posted. But by the turn of the century, serious internal dissension had arisen and a group headed by Colonel Morrell (for a time golf had been played on the infield of his racetrack) took over. The result was fiscal soundness, a change of name to Torresdale Golf Club, and the development of a nine-hole course, which was laid out by Scottish-born professional James Campbell and the club’s green committee.
The course was very long for the time—3,252 yards, but, like Springhaven’s first layout, not well-balanced. The final three holes—550 yards, 500 yards, 600 yards—accounted for fully half the length. Yet nothing in the first six holes—231 yards, 206, 300, 325, 375, 165—had prepared the player for this backbreaking conclusion. There were, it should be noted, at least two members able to handle this challenge. One was George Crump, who, not ten years later, would embark almost singlehandedly on what many still consider the noblest project in the history of the game, the creation of Pine Valley. The other was Crump’s very close friend, Reverend Simon Carr, a Roman Catholic priest. In the early years of this century, it was Father Carr who held the Torresdale scoring record, a 38, which, as it happened, was also par for the course.