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,
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
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:
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.
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.
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."
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.
they are all denizens of a Web site called GolfClubAtlas
(www.golfclubatlas.com), a cyberspace hangout for students and fans of
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