In Memoriam: James Brennan - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

Jun 12, 2024

In Memoriam: James Brennan

Springhaven member founded the Rawlins Invitational

James Creighton Brennan, a longtime The Springhaven Club member and founder of the Horace Rawlins Invitational, died June 1. He was 90.

“We’re going to dearly miss him. He was an icon at Springhaven,” Springhaven member John Turner, 72, of Media, Pa., said. “He was very involved with junior golfers at the club. He was always a competitor, a guy with a smile on his face.”

“He was really dedicated to the club,” Springhaven member Michael Hodges, 43, of Media, Pa., added. “When I look at the overall history of our club, there is a tremendous amount of fascinating stories that exist around the opening, the 1890s and early 1900s. Then it goes through this quiet period and starts to pick back up when Mr. Brennan became involved with the leadership of our club. He took it to another level and brought it back to the relevancy it had in the early days.”

Brennan, who served as the club’s president from 1971-73, inaugurated the Horace Rawlins Invitational in 1974. During a golf trip to Pinehurst, N.C. in 1973, Brennan, to fill the void of a rain delay, read a history book that included Rawlins and his U.S. Open victory in 1895. He created the Horace Rawlins Invitational to showcase the Philadelphia region’s best amateurs playing alongside Springhaven members. 

Past champions include GAP Hall of Famers Buddy Marucci and R. Jay Sigel. Philadelphia Country Club’s P. Chet Walsh holds a record nine titles. 

“He had this idea to connect Springhaven and the amateur golf community in Philadelphia and beyond,” Hodges said. “The Horace Rawlins Invitational is an example of what he did for our club. He made sure we stayed relevant and continued to expand.”

As part of the tournament’s 45th anniversary, Springhaven unveiled a statue of Horace Rawlins on the first tee. It also renamed the event’s trophy the Jim Brennan Cup that year. 

“We wanted to do that at a time when he was still with us, just so he would see it and be able to appreciate and understand how much we appreciate his contributions to the club and the event specifically,” Hodges said. “When you mention his name, there’s a reverence about him and knowing some of the things he did here at Springhaven.”

After passing the administrative baton to Hodges some 15 years ago, Brennan remained active in the Horace Rawlins Invitational.

“Every year, he came to the event and gave what some would call a relatively long-winded speech about Horace Rawlins. We would all laugh and appreciate how he enjoyed telling the story,” Hodges said. 

“He loved the image of the sophisticate. Once you got to know him, he was a real down to earth guy,” Turner added. 

Brennan is survived by his daughter Kelli Joy Czajkowski and two stepchildren, Kevin Seits and Megan Zavawski, his niece and goddaughter Cynthia McNicholas and his three granddaughters, Brennan Joy Czajkowski, Reese Kathleen Czajkowski and Creighton Rose Czajkowski.In lieu of flowers, donations in Brennan’s memory can be made to Saint Joseph’s University c/o men’s baseball team, 5600 City Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19131 or online at

Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The organization’s 345 Member Clubs and 110,000 individual members are spread across Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

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