William S. Flynn
(1890 - 1945)


One of the most respected and influential of the "Philadelphia School" of golf course design, William S. Flynn laid out his first course at Hartwellville, VT, in 1909.

Flynn assisted Hugh Wilson with the East Course at Merion Golf Club. Flynn also helped finish Pine Valley after the death of George Crump and
served as the course’s agronomist
for many years.

As a prominent architect in the Philadelphia area he designed nearly 60 courses, though his most recognizable work is outside the area at places like Cherry Hills in Denver, The Cascades in Virginia, The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., and Shinnecock Hills on Long Island.

Flynn was a master at routings. He was always concerned about the sequence of holes and avoided having holes of similar length and character coming too closely together. He felt the most interesting layouts were those where the
lengths and types of holes were broken up.

Flynn was one of the first to recognize the long term impact of golf equipment on course design. He believed one day this could force golf courses to be 7500 and even 8000 yards in length. He placed a strong importance on each hole having individual character. He felt problems should be developed on each hole; their order of importance are first - accuracy, second - carry and third – length, which includes carry and roll.

Accuracy of play should carry the greatest reward as it is the essence of the game. Carry, while slightly less valuable than accuracy is important in that it promotes boldness. Length may be considered least important but it becomes quite a factor when a player is able to mold all three tests together.


Read excerpts from Mark's profiles of leading Golden Age golf course architects

Donald J. Ross

A. W. Tillinghast

William Flynn

Contact Fine Golf Design for the complete architect's summaries

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