There are 15,619 golf facilities in the United States, according to the National Golf Foundation. In Pennsylvania alone, there are more than 750. So when Springfield’s Rolling Green Golf Club was recognized as one of the top 100 classic courses in the country, and one of the top 10 in Pennsylvania, the accomplishment was not lost on its members.
“It’s a phenomenal course,” says Mike Rugg, head golf professional at the facility. “It has a tremendous amount of personality. I’m very proud of it and the members are very proud.”
That’s not to say the club has let its celebrity change the way it runs things. It is still family friendly, the membership fees are still reasonably priced, and if you head out on a Sunday morning as a single, there are plenty of people who will willingly join you on your outing.
“We have a lot of people here who just like to play,” says Jack Mullen, director of membership. “I’ve been here for 27 years, and I still show up as a single and get made up with guys I may or may not know. New members can go play and expect to meet new people. It’s really great.”
There are a number of characteristics that set the William Flynn-designed Rolling Green apart from other golf courses in the area. Aside from its sloping hills, deep bunkers and lush fairways, the facility is also known for its lack of tennis courts and swimming pools, allowing for concentrated upkeep of the course. “It’s not a country club; it’s a golf club,” says Mullen, noting that there is a restaurant on the premises. “In general, the agenda of everyone there, and the way we spend money and resources, is all about golf and making the course better.”
Mullen adds that the course is also walking friendly, and there is an extensive caddy program at the club. “Caddies are a dying breed,” he says. “You don’t really see programs like ours anymore. But we’ve got young men and women caddying for us, and they do a great job.”
Although the course is fast and can be characterized as challenging, Rugg suggests that is just part of its appeal. “You’re going to use every club in your bag here,” he says. “It’s going to challenge you in many different ways, and you’re going to use all of them.”
For those just wetting their feet in the sport, Rugg and his four assistants also offer group and private lessons to members. There is no need for newcomers to be intimidated their first time out, according to Rugg.
The fact that there are no pools or tennis courts does not deter people from planning an event at the club, either. Its on-site restaurant is top of the line, according to Mullen, and the club is equipped to handle both small and large banquets. “Most of the time the social events at the club revolve around golf activities,” adds Don Helwig, board president at Rolling Green. “We have a strong food and beverage operation that customizes it offering to the needs of each specific event whether it be any one of our member tournaments, a golf outing, a graduation party, wedding or simply friends getting together for a good meal in one of our dining setting.”
With all the course has to offer, a number of championships have been held on its 157 acres over the years, including the U.S. Women’s Open and the Pennsylvania Open Championship. In 2015, the facility will again play host to the Pennsylvania Open Championship, and in 2016, the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship will make its way to Rolling Green. Along with the events have come professional and top amateur golfers, including JoAnne Carner, Meghan Bolger Stasi, Jay Sigel and Jim Furyk. In fact, Carner returned to the course for the first time on Memorial Day since winning the U.S. Women’s Open there in 1976, and was made an honorary member.
While the course has gained national recognition, it still caters to the local crowd and attracts all levels of competition. “The club is very diverse in its abilities,” says Rugg. “We have former pros who are members, as well as people who are just picking up the game. Everyone is accepted.” The club, which acts as the home course for Springfield High School and Swarthmore College, also has an active junior program, and encourages younger players to take to its greens. “We go out of our way to make the club family friendly,” says Mullen. “We’ve had 40 kids on the range from ages 6 to 18 some Sunday afternoons, practicing and playing.”
Although it seems that the facility is, understandably, all play and no work, Helwig says the club does hold several charities close to its heart, and is very committed and involved with the Coaches vs. Cancer and J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship programs. “A lot of our caddies have been beneficiaries of the scholarships,” he says. “And member Fran Dunphy, the Temple basketball coach, has done a bang-up job promoting Coaches vs. Cancer and we have been one of the Philadelphia chapter’s top contributors for the past three years.”
Prospective members may be concerned with committing themselves to one club, but Helwig is quick to point out that many people, including the Golf Association of Philadelphia, consider Rolling Green a go-to course. “It’s a classic course,” he says. “It’s a very challenging, but also very interesting course to play on a day-to-day basis.”
Rolling Green Golf Club
280 N. State Road
Springfield, PA 19064