THE SUPER BOWL OF GOLF: Philadelphia vs. Kansas City
05 Feb 2023
by Jim Young of AmateurGolf.com

Super Bowl LVII matches the Philadephia Eagles against the Kansas City Chiefs and among oddsmakers, the game is basically a toss-up, with the Eagles being installed as a slight favorite.

The two cities couldn't be any more different. The City of Brotherly Love oozes with history and owns the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, cheesesteaks and Rocky Balboa, while Kansas City is rooted deeply in jazz, barbecue, wheat and its beautiful fountains.

However, both areas do share one thing in common beyond a passion for their football teams and that's a love of golf.

Both cities have produced notable figures in the game.

Philadelphia can hang its visor on John J. McDermott Jr., the first U.S.-born golfer to win the U.S. Open in 1911 and 1912 and Bryn Mawr native Jay Sigel, who compiled one of the greatest amateur records of all-time born. Kansas City can double down with its native son, eight-time major champion Tom Watson.

Like the city itself, the private clubs in the Philadelphia area are regal and laced with history and tradition, while the Kansas City area offers some of the best layouts in America's heartland, which are often underappreciated and undervalued on the national scale.

With the big game on the horizon, we take a look at some of the top private and public courses in and around the two cities.

With all due respect to Pine Valley and the DuPont Country Club, which are located a short drive from downtown, our Philadephia-area courses required a Pennsylvania address. Similarly, you won't find Prairie Dunes Country Club, located some three hours from Kansas City in Hutchinson, Kan., on our list either.

Meet the players...

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Best Private Clubs

1. Merion Golf Club (East Course) • Ardmore, PA
Consistently ranked among the top golf courses in the country, Merion’s East course has hosted 19 USGA events over the years -- more than any other club in the country. Merion has served as the backdrop of some of golf's greatest moments, including Bobby Jones' completion of the elusive Grand Slam at the 1930 U.S. Amateur. Hall of Famers Ben Hogan (1950) and Lee Trevino (1971) are among the five U.S. Open champions to have hoisted a trophy at Merion.

2. Aronimink Golf Club • Newtown Square, PA
Designed by the legendary Donald Ross, Aronimink opened in 1928 and though it has been altered many times over the years, it still stays true to Ross’s original design principles. Every single shot demands your full attention and the green complexes are as large as they are undulating. The club has hosted several national competitions in the modern era including the 1962 PGA Championship won by Gary Player, the 1977 U.S. Amateur, the 1997 U.S. Junior Amateur and the 2003 Senior PGA Championship.

3. Philadelphia Cricket Club • Philadelphia, PA
A.W. Tillinghast built the Flourtown Course in 1922, however, it was re-named “Wissahickon” in 2002. Tillinghast's ashes were scattered in the Wissahickon Creek which runs adjacent to the course near the 18th fairway. While Pine Valley and Merion East are generally regarded as the top two courses in the Philadephia area, the Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Wissachickon course and Aronimink run neck-and-neck for third.

4. Philadelphia Country Club • Gladwyne, PA
Established in 1890, Philadelphia Country Club is home to two stunning golf courses offering 27 holes of championship golf. The Spring Mill course has hosted a myriad of championships since its inception in 1927, including the 1939 U.S. Open while the Centennial Course features stone walls built by the hands of Union soldiers around its nine holes.

5. Huntingdon Valley Country Club • Huntingdon Valley
Huntingdon Valley Country Club opened in 1897 and is one of the oldest clubs in the country and is home to 27 holes of championship golf designed by famous golf course architect William Flynn. There is no shortage of slopping holes and approach shots from a downhill lies to a raised green is commonplace.

6. Rolling Green Golf Club • Springfield, PA
Another William Flynn masterpiece, Rolling Hills Golf Club is billed as a "golf club meant for golfers", meaning it's void of other country club amenities such as tennis courts or swimming pools. JoAnne Carner won the U.S. Women's Open here in 1976 while Seong Eun-Jeong captured the 2016 U.S. Women's Amateur on the same grounds. Rolling Green Golf Club might fly under the radar in relation to its more renowned neighbors, but it enjoys "a rich and enviable history that remains to this day one of Philadelphia's most well-preserved and hidden golf gems."

7. Manufacturers Golf & Country Club • Fort Washington, PA
Manufacturers’ Golf & Country Club is located in the historical suburb of Fort Washington, where General George Washington turned back a British attack British on the colonists in 1777. Originally founded as an eating club by a group of textile managers in 1887 and moved to its present location in 1925, Mannie has many distinctive features, including the famous par 3 eighth quarry hole and the tram car that takes golfers to the top of the hill on 18. It's one of earlier designs in the Philadelphia area and some feel it's one of the most underrated golf courses in the Philadelphia region.

8. Gulph Mills Country Club • King of Prussia, PA
Located northwest of Philadelphia, towards King of Prussia and Conshohocken, this Donald Ross golden age classic is another course that oftentimes goes overlooked compared to some of the other great courses in the area and that's just fine with the members of one of the most private and exclusive clubs in Pennsylvania.

9. Applebrook Golf Club • Malvern, PA
Located in the hills of Chester County just outside Malvern, Applebrook was designed by Gil Hanse on the property of the former Applebrook Farm, deeded by William Penn to Robert Williams in 1702. Opened in 2001, Applebrook features wide fairways and large greens. In his book The American Private Golf Club Guide, Daniel Wexler comments, "Applebrook took some stylistic cues from that most legendary of Philadelphia courses, Merion… There is far more subtlety here than on most modern designs which, perhaps more than anything, is what gives Applebrook its classic feel.”

10. Lookaway Golf Club • Buckingham PA
Located in the heart of Bucks County, Lookaway Golf Club, designed by Rees Jones, was opened in 1999 and despite its newbie status compared to some of its blue-blood neighbors, has quite an amazing history. Bordered by the Delaware River, the property itself dates back to 1713. The building that serves as the clubhouse was built sometime around 1752 and is believed to be the oldest building used as a clubhouse in the United States. The club prides itself on its playability and a thriving caddie program.

Best Value Courses

Berkleigh Golf Club • Wernersville, PA
Broad Run Golfer's Club • West Chester, PA
The Course at Glen Mills • Glen Mills, PA
Galen Hall Golf Course • Wernersville, PA
Inniscrone Golf Club • Avondale, PA
Jeffersonville Golf Club • Jeffersonville, PA
Lulu Country Club • Glenside, PA
Manor Golf Club • Sinking Spring, PA
Paxon Hollow Country Club • Media, PA
Reading Country Club • Reading, PA
The Bucks Club • Jamison, PA
Turtle Creek Golf Club • Limerick, PA

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Best Private Clubs

1. Kansas City Country Club • Mission Hills, KS
Founded in 1896, Kansas City CC claims to be the third oldest country club west of the Mississippi River. The course was originally designed by Tom Bendelow and later redesigned by A.W. Tillinghast. In his book The American Golf Club Guide, Daniel Wexler describes the hilly, tree-lined Kansas City course as “easily the top classic facility in Kansas City” and one that “would rank in the upper echelons of courses in the great majority of American cities.”

2. Wolf Creek Golf Links • Olathe, KS
Now the home club to golfing legend and Kansas City native Tom Watson, Wolf Creek was founded in 1969. "Your senses on steroids," wrote one reviewer. "It is a visual feast for your eyes. I have played multiple world-class courses, but none will be more seared in my memory than Wolf Creek. Everywhere you look, your heart races just a bit."

3. Shadow Glen Golf Club • Olathe, KS
A collaboration between Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf with input from Tom Watson, Shadow Glen is annually ranked among the top five courses in Kansas City and in Golf Digest's March 2000 issue, hole No. 13 was chosen as one of America's best 18 holes. The course gets high marks for its excellent routing with the front nine providing plenty of variety while the inward nine works its way to Cedar Creek and has "one scintillating hole after another."

4. Hallbrook Country Club • Leawood, KS
Located in the southern suburbs of Kansas City, Hallbrook CC was opened in 1988 on the property that was once the family farm of the late Joyce Hall, founder of Hallmark Cards. The Tom Fazio design is accentuated by the native Kansas prairie grasses and the heavily wooded hillsides and features a multitude of elevation changes along with a meandering creek that wanders through the property.

5. Milburn Golf & Country Club • Overland Park, KS
Designed by William B. Langford, Milburn Country Club has hosted a number of high-profile golf events including the Kansas City Open, PGA, US Open Qualifying, US Amateur Sectionals, Kansas City Masters, Missouri and Kansas Amateur, and The Watson Challenge. In 2010, a devastating fire destroyed Milburn's clubhouse but three years later, the club unveiled its new 33,000-square-foot clubhouse that features multiple dining options for members, lounge areas and even private wine storage. Further investments in the infrastructure yielded a new irrigation system, bunker and tee box renovations, installation of new artificial hitting surfaces, an expanded grass-hitting area and upgrades to the club’s pool and dining halls.

6. Indian Hills Country Club • Mission, KS
Located in the heart of Mission Hills, this A.W. Tillinghast design was opened in 1927 and has played host to more than 50 USGA and State Amateur qualifying events. "One of the greatest opportunities I have ever had for creating a notable course," said Tillinghast as he set out to design one of his three layouts in the Kansas City area.

7. Blue Hills Country Club • Kansas City, MO
Blue Hills CC dates back to 1912 and is the host site for the Korn Ferry Tour's AdventHealth Championship and the Tom Watson Challenge. The course measures 7,200 yards from the tips and features plenty of doglegs and blind shots. The club has had only five head professionals in its century-plus of existence.

8. Oakwood Country Club • Kansas City, MO
One of the oldest clubs west of the Mississippi River, Tom Watson assisted in the redesign of holes 5 through 8, with the sixth being one of the property’s most distinctive holes. The course measures less than 6,600 yards from its tips but its tree-lined fairways demand accuracy off the tee. Some of the trees on the course are over 100 years old.

9. Loch Lloyd Country Club • Village of Loch Lloyd, MO
Regarded by many as Tom Watson’s "finest architectural design," Loch Lloyd is laid out within a large real estate development and is an old-fashioned out-and-back course with subtle elevation changes. A beautiful landscape of waterfalls and rocks on the closing hole adds to the scenic beauty of Watson's masterpiece.

10. The National Golf Club of Kansas City • Kansas City, MO
Another Tom Watson design, the National is a former host of the Senior PGA's Bayer Advantage golf tournament. ClubCorp recently acquired the National along with its adjacent club, The Deuce.

Best Value Courses

Dub’s Dread Golf Club • Kansas City, KS
Falcon Lakes Golf Course • Basehor, KS
Shoal Creek Golf Course • Kansas City, MO
Firekeeper Golf Course • Mayetta, KS
Heritage Park Golf Course • Olathe, KS
Ironhorse Golf Club • Shawnee Mission, KS
Minor Park Golf Course • Kansas City, MO
Sand Creek Station • Newton, KS
Shamrock Hills Golf Course • Lee’s Summit, MO
Shoal Creek Golf Course • Kansas City, MO
Sunflower Hills Golf Course • Bonner Springs, KS
Swope Memorial Golf Course • Kansas City, MO
Sycamore Ridge Golf Club • Spring Hill, KS
The Golf Club at Creekmoor • Raymore, MO
Tiffany Greens Golf Club • Kansas City, MO
WinterStone Golf Course • Independence, MO

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