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            While golf around Philadelphia was certainly secure in its popularity by the midpoint of the 20th century’s second decade, the land beneath some of its playing fields was not.  Consider the predicament facing St. Davids Golf Club in 1916.  Though almost 20 years old, its 18 holes sat on 120 acres straddling Lancaster Avenue between St. Davids and Radnor that was leased nothing more binding than a verbal nod.  With no long-term commitment and development lurking up and down the Main Line, concern understandably bubbled through the membership that their golf course might not be beneath their spikes for long.
            It was out of just such concern that opportunity presented itself.  A small but prominent core of St. Davids members – led by A.J. Drexel Paul, club Vice President Alba B. Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer Weston Hibbs, and directors C. Willing Hare and George Quintard Horwitz – went searching for real estate their club could hold title to.  They found it – on 160 acres of dramatic and rolling expanse off Swedeland Road in Gulph Mills.
            Along with its deed, the property known as Walnut Grove Farm came with history.  William Penn once bestowed it on his daughter and George Washington marched his troops through in route to Valley Forge.  The farm’s longtime owners were ready to sell.
            St. Davids, as it turned out, wasn’t ready to buy.
            Alba Johnson and company were.  And with the local press referring to them as “the mutineer millionaires,” on June 19, 1916, they took on the challenge of creating a place of their own.
            Within a month, they’d engaged Donald Ross to coax their new course from the stunning landscape.  Ground was broken in August and by September, the founders had expanded to a core of 11 directors who would formalize their enterprise as the Gulph Mills Golf Club and – by charter, in words that echo to this day – emphasize the intrinsic promise of a haven forged “for social enjoyment and the encouragement of golf.”
            Still, getting their idea up and running would not be easy.  With World War I on, members were hard to come by; each of the 11 directors advanced considerable capital - as they would for several years - through construction and beyond.  Starts and stops defined their early path.  Finally, on May 19, 1919, Gulph Mills Golf Club officially opened with an invitation-only event that drew potential members to inspect what Ross announced would “undoubtedly be a much superior course to any around Philadelphia.”
            Over the next decade the clubhouse went up, the membership grew, and the course received the first of several important tweaks.  Then - as now - Gulph Mills was a work in progress, but one thing has remained constant from the start: in what was once a quiet corner of Montgomery County, men with vision fostered a sanctuary that they, their families, their friends and future generations could retreat to “for social enjoyment and the encouragement of golf.”
            Those words from the charter helped cement the spirit of community that gave birth to the Club 100 years ago.  They still thrive in the Club’s character as they propel Gulph Mills to look forward, just as spiritedly, toward the 100 years about to come.