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Tuesday
Jan052016

Dreadful: Cobbs Creek Clubhouse Destroyed By Fire

A terrible loss on many fronts, as the delightful clubhouse building at Cobbs Creek was destroyed in an overnight fire. (Thanks to readers Matt and Len for sending in links.)

The colonial clubhouse has stood for nearly a hundred years, sporting a classic Colonial style and set the perfect tone for the course, which has the potential to be one of the world's premier municipal courses (with a little dusting off.)

Here is a short Philly.com staff report with a surreal image of ice retaking the building after the fire.

NBC Philadelphia's report:


Footage of the fire:

Some of my photos from two years ago, in happier times...



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Reader Comments (34)

What a shame. Cobbs is waiting to be reborn. Hopefully, the replacement is consistent with the vision of the committed private citizens seeking to bring Cobbs back.
01.5.2016 | Unregistered CommenterRose
Great video. Pretty pathetic firefighting effort. Dozens of firemen standing around watching the place burn. Only two water streams from tower trucks. It would have helped if some of them picked up hoses and tried to put out the fire, especially early on, before it really got going.
Very odd response for a fire company....
01.5.2016 | Unregistered CommenterBud
A new club house will be tied up in city politics/aministrative non-action for years just as the privately funded revovation of the course has been. The new Mayor may be more sympathetic to this project.

http://xchem.villanova.edu/~bausch/focc/Friends_of_Cobbs_Creek/
01.5.2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteven T.
Looked like a high wind was a factor, and the article said that they were trying to stop the fire from inside, so firemen ''standing around'' is not a true picture of the effort. They have to take a break, or they will make fatal mistakes. We don't know how long these idle firemen had already worked.

Very sad. Best to all involved
01.5.2016 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Bud, I have climbed around the attic of a clubhouse much younger than this one, if a fire gained any momentum in that attic standing and watching would be the only option. Doubt those firefighters are pathetic.
01.5.2016 | Unregistered CommenterConvert
Hope they have proper insurance coverage. If that old building was 100 years old then there was no "putting the fire out"....that place went up like a tinder box - at the 4:25 mark the whole building was engulfed. There was no saving that place.

If they do have proper coverage, then they can rebuild an efficient new facility that meets the needs and fits the ambiance that they wish to present at Cobb's Creek. Let's hope there was not valuable or historical memorabilia lost in the blaze.
01.5.2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Ezar
The link to the Friends of Cobbs Creek blog seems to be down. Here is the twitter for the group: @FriendsOfCCGC
01.5.2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteven T.
I don't know how anyone can call someone who would risk their life to save you pathetic.
01.5.2016 | Unregistered CommenterEasingwold
Very sad news. An irreplaceable loss.
01.5.2016 | Unregistered CommenterIvan Morris
"I don't know how anyone can call someone who would risk their life to save you pathetic. " Roger that!
01.5.2016 | Unregistered CommenterPro From Dover
Sad to see a great old clubhouse like that go. Any new replacement will almost certainly not have the feel of the old place. Got to play it in the warm spell just before the holidays. Video does seem to show a lack of hoses in use. Local news is that firefighters had trouble finding working hydrants nearby and had to run very long lines to get water. Cold temps did not help.
01.5.2016 | Unregistered CommenterDon
Is this an actual Philly golf course or a New Jersey course that Philly lays claim to?
01.5.2016 | Unregistered CommenterSal Bonpensiero
Sal: It's a Philadelphia city municipal golf course...the best in the bunch!
01.5.2016 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Frey, PGA
The Friends of Cobb's Creek blog is back up after the server took a hit a week or so ago. I'll update the blog tomorrow concerning the fire.

http://xchem.villanova.edu/~bausch/focc/Friends_of_Cobbs_Creek/Welcome.html

As sad as this day is, Cobb's Creek Golf Course will survive and thrive in the future. Mark my words.
01.5.2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Bausch
My best guess is that if we are relying on the city insurance the deductible is probably way too high like $1,000,000. If the risks were assumed by Billy Casper Golf it would be a different story.

I was disappointed to hear the news call it a one alarm fire as that is pretty low around here. It may be that the Fire Department knew it was a total loss other than preserving buildings close by.
01.5.2016 | Unregistered CommenterPABoy
Sal,

I know you're being "funny" with this Philadelphia city limits thing (again, I might add. Kudos to your persistence In your drive towards inanity), but where do you think the term "country club" came from? Philadelphia, New York and Boston are three of the five or so best cities for golf in America, yet there are barely any private clubs within the city limits of any of them. Such is the way that cities of the Northeast US formed.

For your information, by the way...

There are three GAP courses within the city limits; Bala, Frankford-Torresdale, St. Martins nine at Cricket club. There are six municipally owned courses Cobbs Creek, Karakung, Juniata, JF Byrne, FDR and Walnut Lane.
Is it really about Philly laying claim to Jersey courses or is it about Jersey courses trying to disassociate themselves from New Jersey?
01.5.2016 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
"Let's hope there was not valuable or historical memorabilia lost in the blaze."

Where else would it be?
01.5.2016 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Some of the historical material associated with Cobb's Creek Golf Course is kept at a different site.
01.6.2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Bausch
Real tragedy. Had the pleasure of playing the course with my cousin's great grandmother last Spring. Felched her behind the caddy shack after a few too many old fashions at the 19th hole.
01.6.2016 | Unregistered CommenterCanada Dry
Thank you Joe Bausch. That would make sense.
01.6.2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Ezar
PA Boy, regarding Billy Casper, were they leasing the facility, or managing the facility? Therein lies the answer, or at least part of it as to who is responsible for the insurance of the structure.
01.6.2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Ezar
So Tremendous Slouch, what you're saying then is Pine Valley is actually in New Jersey, not Philly?
01.6.2016 | Unregistered CommenterSal Bonpensiero
Sal: I don't think this is a unique issue. I'm originally from Cincinnati, and most people refer to the area of SW Ohio, SE Indiana and N Kentucky as Greater Cincinnati, or simply, the Tri-State. I know of a lot of tri-states in the U.S.
01.6.2016 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Frey, PGA
Cobb Creek. What a gorgeous property. Hugh Wilson design (Merion). Could and should be a fabulous track. Wonderful topography changes and some classic holes. Harding Park (San Francisco) was in the same state of life support before Sandy Tatum championed it's resurrection charming the city council, who cared little about golf (far as allocating city money to it) to support putting money into it to rebuild it. Many people have complained since Harding Park was rebuilt feeling money should have gone to more needed endeavors such as low income housing. Such will always be the case regarding golf as city an state political monies and how they are allocated. Harding is a great asset to the city now and the revenue stream it helps foster is difficult to measure accurately. The TV exposure of the World Golf event (05 ?), the 09 Presidents Cup (I believe ?), a couple Charles Schwab Cup end of the year events for the Champions Tour have certainly given the region tremendous TV and media exposure over the years, which stirs up tourism for the area and much exposure to the region (see blimp shots of all that is San Francisco (Napa wine region even). Rebuilding a fine city course with city money has it's upside and can help generate long term cash streams, and the downside is other heralded projects (low income housing and other projects that NEED rather create a stream of money) have to wait in line for those monies to be allocated. Never ending cycle.

Cobbs Creek is a fabulous property needs a champion like Sandy Tatum. A respected elder statesman who loves an knows golf to educate the city council and mayor of the benefit to the region and local area which is not flush with monies shall we say. Billy Casper Golf (rest his soul) which is a brand he sold off years back, would love to pump tons of money into the course, but is allocated a lease too short to warrant a big money investment. So they wait for state and local money give it up and accept the limitations of the city and state and wonder along with the golfing public of the region what might become of a real PA, not New Jersey gem. A special place that sits there waiting and hoping to be lifted out of the mire of city and state politics.

Know who would kick this tracks ass into shape, were he to own it? People love to rip this guy (future president ? no damn way-you say), the one and only "The Donald", not to be confused with any of the other Donald's out there. Turnberry's (Scotland, which the R&A has removed from the Open rota- till they see how unbelievable it is and realize that The Donald "rocks" and the course is too fabulous to be left out of Open Championships). Sure, Donald Trump upsets people and irritates their sensibilities. Lead, follow or get the hell out of the (American) way. Think the world is better served being lazy and nice and sweet and kind all the time? See American Military spending and what it takes to support the Am. way of life. Lotta soldiers out there putting it on the line to get things done so Am. citizens can relax, take it easy and not get things done. The Donald is like an Army Commander of business reform. Golf benefits. Cobb Creek (I know, I know-I am dreaming here, but why not? Let's fight for, rather fight to preserve that which is not already great ? ) Because the owners of the course (the city of Philly) and its council members are not accomplished business people like Trump, and don't have what it takes. So what the clubhouse burned down. A shame? A pity? Inconvenient? Absolutely. And the best of times-in hindsight-often are.

A remodel is exactly what that property has been dreaming of and needs to be truly world class and not just good with a great lodge and views. The Donald "gets it done". Cuts through red tape and moves mountains in between comb overs. He would transform that property (Cobbs Creek) and blow minds with it. Wishful thinking? No doubt. I'd rather wish and work and pray than accept and tolerate Cobbs Creek as it lays there now on life support from the city. The clubhouse burning may go down as the straw that stirred the drink for Cobbs. It needs some attention, some love, a kick in it's ass. Golfers, cities, and humans deserve better than accepting a Cobbs Creek from wasting away like it has like a drug addict strung out feeding off the city to survive barely on life support. Harsh assessment? Have you seen it? Walked it? Played it?

May the burning down of Cobb's charming clubhouse serve as a beacon of light to help point the way for those in Philly, PA who love golf and know business and the politics of the region, to rouse the passion within those souls who aspire to make their region more, better, greater. Not strung out needing an intervention and twelve step program feeding off the state. Let the fire burn within those capable of resurrecting this property into it's rightful place lifting up Philly, and making the region proud. Or, let's just utilize a temporary tent an make do with that and lets enjoy the wonderfully rewarding and life sustaining benefits of the good old status quo where not much of anything happens and few egos are ever bruised. Let's be mediocre shall we? The alternative is just too damn hard isn't it?
01.6.2016 | Unregistered CommenterBirdman
Birdman, if I had wanted to read a novel I would have opened up Moby Dick

Matt, just messing with my Philly brothers who like to lay claim to every course within a 100 mile radius as part of "Philly". Hell, one of them even said Oakmont was in Philly.
01.6.2016 | Unregistered CommenterSal Bonpensiero
Sal,

I think the Golf Association of Philadelphia includes courses from the Jersey Shore to Scranton to Lancaster...that's like a triangle with each side a three hour drive...although the Met Section probably covers similar sq. miles.
01.6.2016 | Unregistered CommenterJS
."although the Met Section probably covers similar sq. miles."

No way. Only out to the tip of L.I., and that's with heavy traffic.
01.6.2016 | Unregistered CommenterSal Bonpensiero
I love you Sal and your LI tip
01.7.2016 | Unregistered CommenterHickory Philly
Birdman,

After The Donald renovates Cobb Creek after charming the city council Sandy Tatum style (what a strange juxtaposition), how much will the green fees be to the local municipal golfer. Will there be designated tee times for youth and cheap lessons?
01.7.2016 | Unregistered CommenterPGT
Sal,

How many private courses are in NYC limits? Is it zero or one?
Cobbs Creek, as it is configured today is a very demanding course for any amateur or professional golfer excluding the PGA tour. Putting the golf course back to the original design is a great idea and it will continue to challenge all. Building a new golf course that only the highly skilled can play is a waste of time and money. In the long run it will increase the maintenance and administrative budgets to operate and increase greens fees to play. We need to make golf affordable for everyone. Cobbs Creek was built with the intention of providing affordable golf for the City of Philadelphia. Lets keep it that way.

Renovate back to the original design as well as upgrade the current Karakung track. The current golf course superintendent is on the right track now. Nothing more is needed.
01.7.2016 | Unregistered CommenterBigDaddyO
By the way, Sal,

It's 180 miles from the Architects' Club to Maidstone, both in the MGA.
"Very sad news. An irreplaceable loss."
"What a shame." (FOR WHO? ... thankfully no one was hurt!)
"Any new replacement will almost certainly not have the feel of the old place." (GOOD!!!

At what time in your life did you ever say "Lets go have a beer at Cobbs, play some cards, shag some balls, watch people tee off or hit balls on the range."

Never ... Even as an atheist I want to believe this was a generous act of god and will provide the impetus to have a clubhouse that is more than a victorian style snack bar.

"The current golf course superintendent is on the right track now."

He sure is ... pay him and his crew what they'd get to work at Pine Valley ... lock that crew in.
01.29.2016 | Unregistered CommenterRandZman

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