Donald Ross course purchased by nation's most prominent city club

Torresdale-Frankford Country Club
Courtesy of Torresdale-Frankford Country Club
Torresdale-Frankford Country Club in Philadelphia, home of a historic Donald Ross golf course, is being purchased by the Union League city club.
By John Holmes

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Saturday, April 19, 2014 | 8:41 p.m.

The Union League of Philadelphia – one of the nation's most respected city clubs – has agreed to buy the Torresdale-Frankford Country Club in the northeastern part of the city, the club said this week. 

The deal, which was ratified on Wednesday, is significant on a couple of fronts. First, it's encouraging that such a prominent city club sees the value in offering golf to its members. And second, Torresdale-Frankford CC, which has struggled financially in recent years, is the home of a classic Donald Ross-designed course.

In making the case for growth, Union League officials noted that their membership has shifted geographically in recent years. As recently as 2000, two-thirds of its members lived along Philadelphia's famous – and country club-studded – Main Line that stretches west out of the city. Now, however, only about 40 percent of its members live there, while the percentage of its membership living in the City Center and South Jersey has doubled.

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According to a presentation made to members, the Philadelphia Inquirer said, the Union League hopes to offer "unlimited golf" to members along with access to Torresdale-Frankford's swimming, tennis, shooting and dining facilities that occupy 150 acres about 15 miles from City Center. 

Ross, one of the game's most prolific and well-respected golf course architects, created the 6,417-yard, par-70 layout in 1921. San Snead holds the course record of 64, which he set during the 1941 Philadelphia Open.

The course is one of about two dozen that Ross created in Pennsylvania, along with Newtown Square's famed Aronimink. Among Ross's designs are the No. 2 Course at Pinehurst, which will host the U.S. Open this summer, as well as the Nos. 1 and 3 courses at the popular North Carolina Resort. Others include East Lake Country Club in Atlanta, home of the PGA Tour's Tour Championship; Oakland Hills in Birmingham, Mich., a venue for both the U.S. Open and Ryder Cup; and Scioto in Columbus, Ohio, where Jack Nicklaus spent many days in his youth. 

No doubt the Union League will look to upgrade the country club – and the course – in an effort to get its members out there. And that can only mean good news for a course whose future should be as bright as its pedigree is proud.