Cobb’s Creek GC 
History of Cobb’s Creek GC: Uncovering a Treasure

By Joe Logan
Published April 30, 2012

The magnum opus that is the history and design evolution of Cobb’s Creek GC is complete and now available on the internet for your reading enjoyment.


Weighing in at 344 pages, the manuscript, titled Cobb’s Creek Golf Course: Uncovering a Treasure, is by far the most complete – some would say mind-bogglingly exhaustive – chronicle of Philadelphia’s best known and most historic city-owned golf course.  Designed by Hugh Wilson, the same architect credited with Merion GC East and West Courses, Cobb’s Creek has long been regarded as a gem in is own right, albeit a gem in need of tender loving care.


A group of Cobb’s Creek aficionados are doing all they can to provide that TLC.  Led by Mike Cirba, an information-tech officer for a company in Allentown, and Joe Bausch, a chemistry professor at Villanova, "Friends of Cobb’’s Creek," as they call themselves, have spent untold hours studying the bones of the golf course and pouring over old topography maps.  What they have in mind is a full-blown restoration.


In 2008, in this story in the Philadelphia Inquirer, I chronicled the group’s early efforts at convincing the city of what kind of treasure it had on its hands.   Here’s the opening:



Nine days ago, in a 10th-floor conference room in the offices of the Fairmount Park Commission, a handful of golfers calling themselves "Friends of Cobbs Creek" sat down to pitch an idea for the future of the city-owned golf course.


"We'd like to restore Cobbs Creek," Mike Cirba, the leader of the group, told Barry Bessler, chief of staff for the park commission and the city's point man on all matters pertaining to the six city-owned courses.


Bessler, a sometimes golfer but a full-time, no-bull city government lifer, listened politely, offered the occasional nod of interest or approval and, ever the pragmatist, duly pointed out a few daunting obstacles from his perspective. But, after an hour, Bessler ultimately sent Cirba and the three other Friends of Cobbs Creek (FOCC) on their way feeling cautiously optimistic, maybe even encouraged.


"I thought it went well," said Cirba, 49, an information-tech officer for a company in Allentown, who has a passion for golf courses and golf-course design.


Bessler thought the meeting went well, too. "I always have to be a little apprehensive when people come up with ideas about how we should improve our facilities," he said later. "But there was nothing I heard at that meeting that was so far out of the realm of possibility that it couldn't be considered."


Almost as interesting as the restoration project that Cirba and the FOCC propose for Cobbs Creek - essentially returning the course to its 1928 routing and splendor - is the story of how this small band of like-minded thinkers found each other, seized on a common goal and pursued it to the point of at least getting a hearing from Bessler and the park commission.


Basically, they are all denizens of a Web site called GolfClubAtlas (, a cyberspace hangout for students and fans of golf-course architecture.


The city’s response was, in so many words: "Sounds great, but we don’t have the money to restore Cobb’s Creek.  If you can raise it, let’s talk."


Since then, in a remarkable labor of love, the "Friends of Cobb’s Creek" have worked to find a donor with an appreciation of golf history and sufficiently deep pockets.  While they have made no formal announcements about funding, Cirba and the FOCC are clearly encouraged. 


Cirba and Bausch have also spent countless hours work on Cobbs Creek Golf Course: Uncovering a Treasure.  (Writing by Cirba; research by Bausch).


They have posted the entire manuscript on Pete Trenham’s new website for golf history in Philadelphia, Trenham Golf History. 


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Peggy Burke Noyes[7/22/2013 1:38:31 PM]
Cobbs Creek was where my Dad began playing as a young teen. He finally gave up when my Mother passed in 1981. Dad played at least 4 days a week and when work interfered he’d go over in the evenings and practice. Needless to say he had a beautifully low handicap. Back then a Pro named Andy ran the shop. He had a large but very friendly German Shepherd named, Prince. I’ll always remember Cobbs Creek and Carakong (sp?) Dad took me to a tournament as a child and I was thrilled to have my autograph book signed - especially by "Terrible" Tommy Bolt - who was really nice. My only sad recollection is that Dad lost his gold signet ring with a soldier cameo on it one day while playing. It was very upsetting as it was his wedding gift from my Mother in September of 1929. Thanks for all of the memories, Cobbs Creek; you’re a very special part of my life. God bless. Dick Burke’s daughter, Peggy Burke Noyes
Ron[5/4/2012 10:27:07 AM]
When I tell people about Cobbs Creek, I usually say "It’s an acquired taste." I don’t imagine many first-timers leave enthralled, but a little local knowledge goes a long way. I knew the course had an interesting history, but I had no idea it was so widely acclaimed at its opening, as the book shows.
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