of Cobb’s Creek Golf Course are very pleased to announce that the
Philadelphia municipal golf course will be honored this year with induction
into the "African
American Golfers Hall of Fame" (AAGHOF) at a ceremony this May in West Palm
The Friends have
been asked by AAGHOF Founder and Chairman Malcolm Knowles to attend and give a presentation
detailing the rich
multi-cultural sporting history of the golf course at the induction
The AAGHOF was founded in 2005 and celebrates and
honors the achievements of African Americans in the game of golf. AAGHOF is a major sponsor of grassroots
youth golf programs and in concert with corporate sponsors annually donates
resources to programs that make a difference in communities and schools across
the country. Past inductees
have included such golf luminaries as Calvin Peete, Jim Thorpe, Ted Rhodes, and
Cobbs Creek turns 100 this year
Cobb’s Creek Golf Course opened for play on May 30,
1916, 100 years ago this spring.
With the centennial approaching, the Friends
of Cobb’s Creek Golf Course has been looking for suitable ways to honor the
rich heritage of this unique local sports venue.
It may seem surprising to us today but at the time
the course was built most public golf facilities throughout the country had
racial restrictions that prohibited African American Golfers from using
them. While many African Americans
had been exposed to the game earning money by caddying at both private and
public courses, most had very few opportunities to develop their games at any
"real" courses, often having to resort to makeshift farm fields and caddie
yards simply to enjoy this form of competitive recreation.
Cobbs Creek always welcomed black golfers
Thankfully, this was never the
case in the City of Brotherly Love.
From the beginning, Cobb’s Creek offered no such restrictions on race,
gender, or creed. It is
therefore not surprising that the course became a magnet for African Americans,
fostering the development of such great players as Howard Wheeler, who played
in the US Open at Merion in 1950, and Charlie Sifford, who became the first
African American to win on the PGA tour. Heavyweight champion Joe Louis was
a regular at Cobb’s Creek whenever he was in town and he helped to fund
Sifford’s early career.
Cobb’s Creek also hosted the
1936, 1947 and 1956 "National Negro Open", which was the national championship
for African American Golfers, won respectively by John Dendy, Howard Wheeler,
and Charlie Sifford. When the
PGA tour’s "Daily News Open" was hosted at Cobb’s Creek in 1955 and 1956,
golfers like Sifford and Wheeler and others played alongside Arnold Palmer,
Billy Casper, and other tour stars in what was a very unusual situation as most
tour events still prohibited anyone but "Caucasians" from participating.
Preserving Cobbs Creek’s history
One of the primary objectives of
the Friends of Cobb’s Creek Golf Course
is to unearth and preserve this rich history. Not as a stale, archival document simply
reflecting former greatness but as a perpetual, living example of what’s
possible to achieve during modern times. We believe one of the most
fundamental goals is to improve the integration and synergy between the golf
course and the surrounding multi-racial communities in west Philadelphia and
As such, we’ve been fortunate to
have the ongoing support of many current and former residents of the city and
surrounds who have been invaluable in directing our efforts. In the case of this nomination, we
were assisted by former long-time Upper Darby resident Leo "Jake" Murray, who
currently resides in Florida.
Jake not only has a long-time love for the course he grew up playing,
but also is a dedicated researcher of the "Underground Railroad".
Through Mr. Murray’s research, we
were able to learn that the land of the Cobb’s Creek Golf Course was owned by
Quaker abolitionists during the 1800s. These "Friends" built underground
tunnels below a popular inn they owned on West Chester Pike which traversed
down to the creek near today’s 5th hole. Fleeing runaway slaves would
traverse northward up through the creek attempting to lose the scent from bounty
hunters and their dogs.
The Friends of Cobb’s Creek Golf
Course would like to thank Mr. Murray for his continued assistance in this
process which has resulted in the nomination and coming induction of the golf
course to the "African American Golfers Hall of Fame". More detailed information about
the induction ceremony and participants will be provided here as plans are
finalized. Thank you for your
interest and continued support.
Mike Cirba, Joseph Bausch, and
the Friends of Cobb’s Creek Golf Course.