Cobbs Creek GC clubhouse 
Video: Major restoration likely coming for Cobbs Creek GC

By Joe Logan
Published May 5, 2013

Big changes could be coming to Cobb’s Creek GC.


Nothing has been finalized – or at least not officially announced – but for months now, talk of a major restoration at Cobb’s Creek, the city-owned course in West Philadelphia, has suggested things are inching closer and closer to reality.


Only a week or so ago, movers and shakers involved in the restoration were all set to go public with the details.  Suddenly, the timing evidently wasn’t right, because they held back.  But now comes a column on Cobb’s Creek in the June issue of Golf Digest (the preview issue for the U.S. Open at Merion) that mentions that the restoration is in the works, assuming the city approves the project


From everything I’ve heard, there is very little, if anything, that might stop the restoration in its tracks, except, of course, well, this is Philadelphia.  So...


The millions needed for the restoration have been lined up from a private donor, whose name has not yet been made public.  The Golf Association of Philadelphia, which supports the project, as agreed to move their headquarters to Cobb’s, assuming it all comes to pass.  Malvern-based architect Gil Hanse, who is designing the Olympics course for 2016, and his design partner, Jim Wagner, have put together the restoration plan.



The idea for the restoration is to take the Olde Course at Cobb’s Creek back as close as possible to the original Hugh Wilson design.  Wilson, of course, is the same man who gave the world Merion’s East and West courses.



Chris Lange, an accomplished amateur golfer and well-connected local businessman, is credited with connecting the people who dreamed up the project with the people who have the money to fund it.  The dreamers are a group who call themselves Friends of Cobbs Creek.


I detailed their story in 2008, for The Philadelphia Inquirer.  Here’s how it began:



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."



Last December, when it the restoration appeared to be coming together, I played a round at Cobb’s Creek with Mike Cirba, a leader of Friends of Cobb’s Creek, and Joe Bausch, the Villanova chemistry professor who did most of the archival research on Cobb’s Creek.


Bausch Collection course gallery of Cobb’s Creek


During the round, I shot reams of video, which I edited into a two-part primer on the restoration.  I have been waiting for a thumbs-up to release the video, which I am doing now. 


I will pass on more details as the become official.  In the meantime, here’s Part 1 and Part 2 of the video:



Part 1.



Part 2.


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5 Comments   |   0 Pending   |   Add a Comment  
John Meadows[5/16/2013 7:16:16 PM]
Very cool. This kind of thing is perfect for a Jimmy Roberts or Bob Costas "feel good" piece during the U.S. Open telecast.
Tim Martin[5/8/2013 11:52:23 AM]
Fingers are crossed that Cobbís is headed for greatness once again. The tireless efforts of Joe and Mike are extraordinary not only for their vision but for making others aware of how special this could be if the plan moves forward as intended. I am a Connecticut resident but a lover of old golf courses and it is a joy to play Cobbís in itís current state let alone dream of the restored/renovated Cobbís. Best of luck guys!!!!!
Jim Hutchins[5/8/2013 10:21:34 AM]
Iím not sure that it is completely evident from the article (or the videos) but this initiative for both Mike C. and Joe B. goes way beyond academic interest in golf architecture--this is truly a heartfelt endeavor for them; a read of their authoritative history of Cobbs Creek provides direct proof of their love of the course...and affordable public golf. Nice article, good going, and good luck.
Dan Herrmann[5/8/2013 8:33:47 AM]
What a wonderful project - not just for metro Philly, but for the entire USA. A renovated Cobbís Creek will be a huge win for all.
Philly Golf Guy[5/6/2013 5:31:37 PM]
Wow, what an amazing development. Iím cautiously optimistic, but really hopes it happens. CCGC is such an interesting design and I would love to see it brought back to its original design with improved conditions. Thanks for posting.
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