History of The Springhaven Club

The founding of The Springhaven Club came at the hands of several well-to-do ladies of the area and was the outgrowth of trips abroad where they were first exposed to the game of golf. Banding together with Miss Eleanor Reed were Mrs. William H. Corlies, Mrs. T. R. Tunis and Mrs. Casper T. Miller, The Springhaven Club was founded in October 1896, making it one of the earliest golf clubs in the country. At the time there were only four other clubs in the Philadelphia region.

The group chose a location the Rowland farm at the junctions of Providence Road and Jackson Street in Media, now called Five Points, and convinced Farmer McCandless, owner of the farm, to rent the use of his pastures for a demonstration of the game. In 1897, with W. S. McIntyre as club captain, a long-term lease was signed for the property and the farmhouse was added to the Club’s holdings. Two years later, an additional field was obtained, expanding the layout to encompass all 60 acres of pasture. By 1900, the membership had reached 160.

By 1903, the membership ranks had swollen to nearly 200, making the original 9-hole course and the converted farmhouse was insufficient to handle the demand. In September of 1903, the Club purchased the Snyder Farm on Providence Road in Wallingford, less than three miles away from its original location. Construction of the golf course and clubhouse continued through the fall of 1903 and was completed in May of 1904.
 
It is believed that the courses original design was attributable to one of its founding members, Ida Dixon. At the very least, she was the driving force behind the design, which makes her the first female golf architect in the United States. She later served as president of the Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia (WGAP) from 1911 until her untimely death, in 1916. The following year, Springhaven hosted the inaugural Ida Dixon Cup; open to lady golfers with USGA handicaps of less than 18. Almost 100 years later, the tournament continues to be played at Springhaven by some of the finest women golfers in the Philadelphia region. Since 1956, the tournament has been conducted by the WGAP. 
 
By the summer of 1904, the course and clubhouse were ready to open. On July 4, 1904, the Club hosted a day of golf, tennis, bridge and other games accompanied by a luncheon and dinner. By this time the Club counted more than 300 members and they were all invited back for a formal opening on July 9th. To complete the ascension of Springhaven to the top rung of the Philadelphia golf ladder, the Club hired Horace Rawlins, one of America’s most renowned golf professionals. Born on the Isle of Wight on August 5, 1874, Rawlins had won the first U.S. Open in 1895 at age 19. 
 
Over the years, the course has evolved as additional land was purchased, however, it has remained remarkably true to its original design. There have been only two major renovations. When Horace Rawlins arrived he used his experience as one of America’s most traveled and knowledgeable pros, to incorporate some design changes he had seen first hand, having played in ten straight U.S. Opens conducted at the finest courses America had to offer. 
 
Andy Campbell, a native of Troon, Scotland came to the Club in 1908. Like Rawlins before him, Campbell was a prominent golfer in the early part of the last century. He played in a number of U.S. Opens, his best finish being a tie for 7th in 1909. And like Rawlins, he supervised changes to the golf course as it matured throughout his 25 years of service. In 1910, Herbert H. Barker, an English golf professional known for his distinctive bunkering, was contracted to toughen up the course. He staked out 50 new sand pits which were rectangular, deep and with an accompanying mound to the greenward side of the sand field. Records of the day indicate it was all and maybe more than the average golfer needed.

The Club also turned to world famous golf architect, William Flynn on a couple of occasions in the 1920’s. One of his most lasting contributions was the removal of Barker’s sand pits and replacing them with the more modern spherical bunkers we see today. 
 
Over the 2nd half of the century, the course has continued to evolve just as the game itself has evolved. Holes have been lengthened and rerouted. Bunkers have been added and this plot of ground, which in 1904 supported less than two dozen trees, now features a wide variety of Copper Beech, Dawn Redwoods, Flowering Cherries, Dogwoods and Japanese Maples.
 
Our most recent renovation was completed in 2005. Two holes were rerouted. Two new greens were built. One hole was added and another lengthened. The result is a balanced par 70 golf course playing 6,181 yards from the white tees and 6,518 yards from the championship tee.
 
Through the years, the Club has and continues to host numerous national and local Golf Association of Philadelphia events. In 1949, Springhaven was one of 30 courses around the country selected as a U.S. Open qualifying course. More than half a century later, in 1995, the Springhaven course proved it’s was still more than capable of challenging a new generation of players and equipment. That year in a U.S. Open qualifying tournament, only three players managed to break par. The U.S. Open qualifier returned again to The Springhaven Club most recently in 2010 and is planned again for July 2014.
 
In 2003, Springhaven was the site of the U.S. Senior Open qualifier where such notable names as Gary Koch and Andy Bean were among the 100 competitors on hand. Only four broke par.
 
In 1974, the Club inaugurated the Horace Rawlins Invitational, in which top amateurs in the area are joined by Club members for a one day competition. Winners of the event include Jay Sigel, Buddy Marucci, Bucky Erhardt, Neil McDermott, Chris Lange and six time winner Chet Walsh. In 2005 the tournament took on an international flavor when the winner was Rhys Davies, a native of Wales, who attended school here in the U.S. A week after the Rawlins, Davies played in the U.S. Amateur where he advanced to the field of sixteen before being eliminated.
 
The clubhouse has also evolved over the years, but like the course, has remained true to its original design. The first clubhouse was constructed in 1904. By 1908, there had been such a rapid increase in membership, that the clubhouse was enlarged. By 1914, more lockers were needed and both the men’s and women’s locker rooms were expanded. In 1926, a golf shop for the professional and a caddy shack were added. There were further expansions throughout the1950’s and 1960’s. In 1988, the Club considered razing the clubhouse and starting from scratch, but opted instead, in 1990, for a $3.6 million renovation which included 10,500 square feet of totally new construction and the demolition of 6,100 square feet of the existing building. The result was a thoroughly modernized 27,800 square foot facility. In 1999, a new patio was added and in 2005, the club embarked on a $1.1 million renovation and modernization of the clubhouse, swimming pool and parking area.
 
At The Springhaven Club we are proud of our rich and storied past as well as our present day offerings and future development plans. We have a strong, diverse and active membership. More than 100 years of success is quite an accomplishment and we are well-positioned to meet the challenge to continue to grow and thrive for another 100 years and beyond.
 
Suggested reading for more historical information and illustrations:

 

The History of The Springhaven Club, 1896-2004

Authors: Bob Labbance & Patrick White, 2004
Published by Notown Communication Company, 802.223.7372
 
For information on Membership at The Springhaven Club, we invite you to call us at 610.876.8187 or jwurtz@springhavengolf.com