When I started this website in the Fall of 2018, I thought it would be a fun hobby and didn’t expect anybody to actually read what I’ve written. But thanks to social media, I was able to reach a wider audience than expected. Thank you to all that have followed, read and commented on the content.
Unfortunately I didn’t write as much in 2019 as I wanted – some stuff in my personal life got in the way. However, I was able to visit lots of new courses so I’m planning to be more prolific in 2020. Here is a partial list of local courses that I have on deck: Walnut Lane, Lederach, JC Melrose, Rancocas, Pitman, Woodcrest, Mountain View, Hickory Valley, Locust Valley and Gilbertsville. There are few other Getaway courses to review: Goat Hill Park (CA), Sleepy Hollow (OH), and Southern Pines, Dormie Club and Mid Pines in the Pinehurst, NC area. And there are another 25+ local courses that I want to visit in 2020.
Favorite Course of the Year
As the year progressed, I’ve thought a lot about how to make golf more accessible in urban settings like Philadelphia. Sadly we saw three area courses close in the fall of 2019, including Philadelphia’s FDR. So while on vacation I was able to visit Goat Hill Park in Oceanside, CA. Goat Hill is a short course with 8 par-3s, 9 par-4s and only on par-5. Well loved for many years, it struggled in the early 2010s and was threatened with development. It was revitalized thanks for community involvement and benevolent investment.
The course is flat out fun, with good conditions and excellent green complexes. I zipped around in about 2.5 hours. There’s a great driving range and a 3-hole beginners course called The Playground as well. Mixed within the golf holes is a 18-hole disc golf course and dogs are welcome. The visit really got me thinking about where public golf could go in Philadelphia in the next decade.
Highlight of the Year
One of the first things I wrote in 2019 was about Match Play and the Golden Age architects. It was fascinating to see it spread around the internet, with people from Australia, Europe, and Asia visiting the site. Derek Duncan, of Feed. The. Ball., used the post to frame a question for local architect Jim Wagner in episode 44 of his terrific podcast. The post also was picked up in the Golf Club Atlas discussion group. It was quite fun to see something I wrote generate discussion. Other posts have also reached far and wide and I’ve started to see more visits each week.
Surprise of the Year
In Northwest Philadelphia, Walnut Lane Golf Club is a really fun short course that’s very similar to Goat Hill, with 10 par-3s and 8 par-4s. I had played there a lot growing up, but it had become worn and overgrown, so I hadn’t been back in a while. On a lovely fall Sunday (with no Eagles game), I went out for a quick round and was amazed by the transformation. The First Tee of Philadelphia took over the course about five years ago and has really done wonders. After a rough summer, turf conditions were mostly great. They’ve trimmed back trees to re-open the playing corridors. The result is that Alex Findlay’s design really shines.
Even better news came later in the fall, with The First Tee also taking control of John F. Byrne Golf Course. Byrne was the course I learned to play on, so it’s close to my heart and I couldn’t be happier with the news. They plan on investing $600,000 in the coming years along with other in-kind investments. Consider making a donation to help the cause.
2020 New Year’s Resolutions
I’ll expand on this shortly after the new year, but I want to implement a few ideas to help enjoy golf more. Throughout this year I’ve found lots of ways to have more fun while playing. The main two are that I want to walk more often to play 9-holes more often. Walking is better exercise and you get to see more of the course. Playing nine takes less time and playing more regularly will help keep my game in better shape.
Thanks for your support in 2019 and I wish you the best in 2020!