St. David’s Golf Club, continued

The following is the conclusion of the article on St. Davids Golf Club which appeared in this column on April 22:


By 1899 so many building lots had been sold on the Fenimore land that St. Davids Golf Club, then in the beginning of its fourth year, had to seek a new location. The sites committee interviewed Miss Martha Brown and Mrs. Chew in regard to a lease on a large tract of land along both sides of Lancaster pike between St. Davids and Radnor. These two ladies were amenable to a reasonable lease, provided there was no liquor served in the old farmhouse which was to be used as a clubhouse. They also objected to Sunday golf. A compromise was reached on this when club officers stipulated that there was to be no playing before 1:00 o’clock, so that there should be no conflict with any church services.

The outside of the old farmhouse was improved by the addition of a long, wide porch; rooms were papered and painted. A caddy and professional’s house was also built. Much of this was done at the personal expense of some of the members. Members also did much of the manual work of improving the links and of keeping the clubhouse and grounds in order. The eighteen-hole course was very attractive, with plenty o hills and shade.

Initiation fees and annual dues were still kept low, but the club prospered because officers saw to it that they lived within their income. In addition to doing much of the work on the property and on the course themselves, members contributed the cups for which contests were held. Tournaments and matches then were popular and well attended.

Another early president, in addition to Dr. G. L. S. Jameson, was Lewis Neilson, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. George W. Schultz, to whom this column is indebted for much of its information on the club, was an early vice president and chairman of the Greens Committee. Some of the club champions and lowest scorers included George Crump, Gus Gallagher, William Moorhouse, Gus Bergner and Herman Wendell.

Later on, a number of women joined the ranks of players, becoming very active members of the club. Various professional teachers were employed from time to time, among the most popular being Jimmy Govan, who was a skilled clubmaker. His output was in demand from some of the best players in other clubs.

By 1900 golf as a game had attained such popularity that a National Amateur Championship tournament was held at the Atlantic City Golf Course. It was won by an Austrailian, Walter J. Travis, who was one of the very first column writers on golf. His long approach putts with anew kind of aluminum putter did much to bring the championship his way.

St. Davids’ only entrant in the tournament was Gus Gallagher who qualified, but was soon beaten. Rodman Griscom, of Merion, lasted up to the fourth round. A year r so later Harry Vardon, the great English pro, gave his first American exhibition on the Philadelphia Country Club course. Many St. Davids members who were gallery spectators, were greatly impressed by his skill.

St. Davids Golf Club remained in its pike location until 1927, when it removed to its present sit on Radnor and Gulf roads, purchased a few years earlier from A. J. Paul and Paul D. Mills. Donald Ross, famous golf architect, laid out the new course, which was constructed by Fred A. Canizares, president of the R. H. Johnson Company, of Wayne. A farmhouse on the property served as the first clubhouse.

A year later the St. Luke’s School property was purchased, and its principal building utilized as a clubhouse. In 1929, this property was sold to the Valley Forge Military Academy, after fire had destroyed the Devon Hotel property, which was its home. The present clubhouse was built during that year.

St. David Golf Club is considered one of the best courses in the metropolitan area and many championship events have been played on its links. The Main Line Golf Club, a course open to the public, now occupies the site on the pike formerly belonging to the St. Davids club.


(The interest evidenced in this column by so many residents is a source of pleasure to the author and to The Suburban. That all may feel a personal responsibility for its authenticity and full coverage, we invite items of interest of Radnor Township’s development from sources with such material to offer. Edi.)