Squires Golf Club
|Golf Professional||Shawn D Matthews||(215) 643-7244|
|General Manager||Joe Vahey||(215) 643-7661|
|Superintendent||Cedric Karp||(215) 643-7664|
|Tee Sheet||Front 9||Back 9||Course|
A photo in the October, 1964, issue of Philadelphia Golfer shows one man adding up the scores, four others looking on. Each of the five wears bermuda shorts, golf shoes and socks—that’s all. A topless fivesome: it could only have been Squires.
In the summer of 1962 George Fazio was building a golf course on 140 acres of land in Ambler, almost next door to Oak Terrace Country Club. Fazio had in mind an eighteen that would be open to the public. But a group of golfers led by Herman Watkins proposed that Fazio complete the course and sell it to them for $525,000. The course officially opened for play on May 16,1964.
Squires was unique in the Philadelphia area. Watkins, the club’s first president, set forth the governing principles that underlay its formation in direct and simple terms: “We want the finest golf course, a small but comfortable clubhouse, and a place where a man can play a round of golf and only be restricted by the rules of the game and the etiquette imposed on all golfers. We want to keep our membership limited in number so it won’t take all day to finish, but have enough men here so you can always find a congenial foursome. We want a club that is unrestricted as to religion and nationality, but is reserved for gentlemen who have in common their desire to play golf for the sake of the game and for the enjoyment they derive from playing it with one another.”
Watkins was a developer who built, among a number of projects, the Presidential Apartments, on the original site of the Philadelphia Country Club. He was also given credit in Philadelphia Golfer for having “established himself as a golfing free-thinker years ago when he became the first man ever to wear shorts on a golf course in the United States.” This claim may not have stood up under careful investigation, but it does suggest that Mr. Watkins was a man impatient with what he viewed as unnecessary limitations on his personal freedom, at least where golf was concerned. Nor was he alone. In fact, there were seven others—ah, two foursomes, you would think, but at Squires it may well have been an eightsome!—similarly inclined. These men wanted to play together regularly. But membership restrictions had prevented them from all joining the same club, and rules on the frequency of guest play had precluded their hosting each other as often as they would have liked.
A 1996 photo looking down the 18th to the new Squires clubhouse.
The solution was to organize their own club and to run it in a way that would meet their own needs and the needs of others who might be attracted to a club established exclusively for men. The eight founding members of Squires represented a fair cross-section of the American private club golfer. There were two real estate developers, Herman Watkins and Marvin Orleans; a federal jurist. Judge Joseph Lord; the owner and operator of a dairy, John Finley; an architect, James Nolan; a builder, John Flemming; a construction equipment supplier, James “Jumbo” Elliott (Villanova University’s renowned track coach); and a truck line operator, George Lenno. Among them could be found Jews, Catholics, and Protestants, to say nothing of handicaps ranging from 4 to 24.
The manor house on the estate, a graceful white stucco structure in what could loosely be termed the colonial style, was easily adapted for use as a clubhouse. Jack Gately, formerly professional and manager at the Presidential Golf Club, was employed in the same capacity here. It might be noted that for the majority of members Squires was their second club. They already belonged to full-facilities country clubs like Philmont, Huntingdon Valley, Overbrook, and Aronimink, clubs with a wide range of sporting and social activities for the entire family.
The course that George Fazio fashioned, some 6,800 yards long from the back tees, was a very testing one, perhaps even a bit too rigorous. Not long after he turned it over to the club, four holes were shortened by moving the tees forward. The large greens made welcoming targets, but three-putting on these imaginatively contoured surfaces would be common. Routed over pleasantly rolling ground, this is a course that requires consistently sound swinging and adroit shotmaking by even the very accomplished golfer. Which helps to explain why among its early members were such outstanding players as Bill Hyndman, Allan Sussel, and John Dyniewski.
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