The greens are fast. The wind is swirling. The rough is tough and the bunkers are bountiful.
Philadelphia Cricket Club, the oldest country club in the country — dating back to 1854 — is making a statement — with major championship conditions.
In this weekend’s Constellation Senior Players Championship, the course in Flourtown, Pennsylvania, hosted its biggest golf tournament since holding U.S. Opens in 1907 and 1910.
And if you are this year’s champion — the Champions Tour’s top golfer Bernhard Langer — it’s ready for more.
“Of course they could hold any event here,” Langersaid when asked if the trek could host a U.S. Open.”You could make this golf course so hard, it’s unbelievable. They still have a few hundred yards, some back tees, they can tighten these fairways and let the rough grow and you wont even be able to find a golf ball.”
The course played a grueling 6,963 yards for the Champions Tour event, a rigorous length for most weekend golfers and clearly a tough test for some of the best golfers in the world. Many PGA Tour courses boast well over 7,000 yards, a milestone Cricket Club could easily eclipse if needed.A field filled with dozens of PGA Tour winners was unable to post one 72-hole score under par —Langer’s one-over 281(Miguel Angel-Jimenez and Joe Durant tied for second at two-over apiece).
“This is a real test and it’s a fantastic design and great layout,” Langer continued.
The Philly area most recently hosted the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, an event that was lauded for it’s success and for the quality and difficulty of the golf course but left a bit to be desired as far as infrastructure and organization were concerned.
If a PGA Tour major like the U.S. Open or PGA Championship were to visit the Cricket Club, these concerns would need to be addressed at the unique and historic club.
“The only problem could be hosting an event, an even bigger event, where do you put all the tented villages?” Langersaid.”Youwould have to do what they’re doing right now where the holes are mixed up and you’re starting out here and you’re putting everything away from the clubhouse sort of thing.”
The galleries of people, at times, are nowhere near the heart of the Cricket Club and its clubhouse. Many holes were shuffled (order-wise) and shuttles are required for transportation quite often across the venue.But that’s OK — this weekend it’s worked quite well.
But a U.S. Open, as Merion demonstrated, could draw a multitude more people. Could the Wissahickon Course (designed by A.W. Tillinghast, designer of Winged Foot and Bethpage Black) be up to the task?
“They’ve got another golf course over there [two actually, Militia Hill Course and St. Martin’s Course ] so they’ve got lots of room, I imagine,” Langer said. “It just takes some kind of bright mind to figure it out.”