Hole #11: In the Style of William S. Flynn (1890-1945)
A terrific athlete as a youth, Bill Flynn helped Hugh Wilson build the East Course at Merion, then stayed on as its greenskeeper, but he soon found steady work laying out golf courses in the Philadelphia area. He and Wilson talked of forming a design partnership, but Wilson’s failing health prevented it. Ultimately, he teamed with civil engineer Howard Toomey in the firm of Toomey and Flynn. Bill designed the courses; Toomey built them. Flynn’s work around eastern Pennsylvania was legendary: Philadelphia Country Club, Rolling Green, Huntingdon Valley, Lehigh, Manufacturers and Philmont. But his work elsewhere is more recognizable: Cherry Hills in Denver, Cascades in Virginia, The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, and Shinnecock Hills on Long Island. Bill Flynn was a pioneer, the first to build a million-dollar golf course, the first to routinely install three separate sets of tee boxes and the first to propose a maximum distance for golf balls, to avoid the necessity someday of 8,000-yard courses.
Our 11th is the type of twisting dogleg hole that Flynn often designed. He disliked artificiality on his golf holes. You’ll see no “chocolate drop” or dolomite mounds on this hole. Instead, there are many bunkers, including a huge cluster off the tee. All the bunkers are gouged from the faces of slopes, the way he liked them. The green is small and docile in character. William S. Flynn was never much for overly-severe green contours. “Steep slopes,” he once wrote, “are out of the question in the main body of a green.”