PHILADELPHIA - One of the largest golf course revitalization undertakings ever is set to begin this spring.
On Wednesday, the City of Philadelphia announced the beginning of a long-term lease of its historic Cobbs Creek Golf Course with the Cobbs Creek Foundation, a group of citizens that for several years has worked to take a long-neglected piece of American golf history and restore its Golden-Age reputation as an American golf treasure.
Few golf courses in the world have Cobbs Creek's mix of architectural pedigree and historical bona fides. Opened in 1916, its design was influenced chiefly by Hugh Wilson, who laid out nearby Merion Golf Club's famed East Course. Others who have been linked to the course include William Flynn and other "Philadelphia School" architects like A.W. Tillinghast and George Thomas, who laid out Whitemarsh Valley Country Club in the area before decamping for California.
Cobbs Creek is a rarity among municipal courses. Many munis started out as private clubs; Cobbs Creek was built as a recreation amenity for Philadelphians. It was also decades ahead of its time by welcoming golfers of all races, making it a particularly noteworthy outpost in Black American golf history, too.
Inclusiveness is at the heart of the $65-million effort not just to restore the golf course to a Gil Hanse master plan, but to make it a vibrant community center like it was meant to be from inception, complete with community-oriented facilities in addition to those for golfers. There will also be considerable remediation work done to its namesake waterway, which has flooded repeatedly over the years to the course's detriment.
A new 9-hole course replacing the old, cramped 18-hole Karakung course is expected to debut in 2023, followed by the new-look Olde Course in 2024.