104. Philadelphia Cricket Club (Wissahickon)
A.W. Tillinghast (1922) / Keith Foster (2014)
Philadelphia Cricket was Tillinghast’s home club in his early years as a golfer, so when he laid out a new course for the club in the early 1920s, he devoted special attention to it. Over the century, it aged. Greens shrank, bunkers eroded, trees grew (including one right through the roof of a clubhouse veranda). In 2008, Keith Foster was retained to restore the course to its Tillinghast glory, but a poor economy postponed the work until the summer of 2013. The Cricket is now faithful to Tilly once again, with trees removed and original greens and bunkers reclaimed, including the famed “Great Hazard” that must be carried on the par-5 seventh. As per his request, Tillinghast’s ashes were scattered in the Wissahickon Creek that crosses the 18th green.
100 Greatest/Second 100 Greatest History: Ranked on America’s 200 Toughest, 1966, 1968. Second 100 Greatest since 2017. Highest ranking: Current ranking. Previous ranking: No. 115
Classic golf in its purest form. Philly Cricket oozes character and preserves its history well being Tillie’s home club. The first tee shot is decidedly old school with the tee box stationed on the rear of the putting green (directly in front of the clubhouse patio); intimidating to say the least.
Great mix of par-3, par-4 and par-5 holes with varying lengths and configurations. Many holes are either uphill, downhill or a bit of both. Well-placed bunkers in the fairways and greens will penalize any mis-hit shots. Really tough par 4s, but visually interesting to make each hole fun and compelling.
Tree removal brings the aesthetics back to what it must’ve looked like back in the 20s, opening up panoramic views throughout the course. That has undoubtedly helped conditioning with an emphasis on firm-and-fast conditions.
The aesthetics were gorgeous, and the ambiance was spectacular. The Tillinghast rock on 18? Makes me want to grab some hickory shafted clubs, head back out, and play from sunrise to sunset.
The Wissahickon course is one of the most playable courses I’ve seen for all levels of players. On my visit, there were kids playing, women playing, and the course was packed. The fairways are very large and the scale of many of the holes are huge, while still demanding power, accuracy and finesse.