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Kay's Renovation of Llanerch CC Paves Way for 50th Anniversary


When the membership of Llanerch CC in Havertown, Pa., voted to close their course and undergo a major renovation at the hands of architect Stephen Kay, they knew there was a "coming out party" on the horizon. The party has been scheduled for July 25 and 26 after Llanerch was proclaimed ready.

The 91-year-old course is tucked into an established residential and commercial neighborhood just west of Philadelphia's city limits. The club will host a 50th anniversary celebration of the 1958 PGA Championship held there. Dow Finsterwald won that historic event which was the first major ever televised, the first PGA Championship using the stroke-play format, and the first PGA Championship with Arnold Palmer in the field.

When guests arrive at Llanerch they'll see a course that looks much different than in recent years. Refreshed, renovated, re-invigorated and renewed are just some of the words that have been used to describe the original Alex Findlay design.

The renovation by Kay in 2004 and '05 left Llanerch with a new ranking among Philadelphia's courses, and members are proud to talk about their new golf haven.

"It's like we bought a magnificent new suit and can't wait to wear it to a social event," said Jack Del Pizzo, club president of Llanerch. "The membership has had a couple of years to enjoy the club's new look. Now we want to show it off to the rest of the golf world."

Kay has been a frequent visitor to Llanerch since completing the renovation. Like a kid with a new toy, he finds excuses to spend time with the finished product. "This was a very exciting project for me," said Kay, a native New Yorker who now makes his home just outside Atlantic City. "To take a classic golf course, modernize it, but keep the same historic feel is a dream job for any architect. I think Llanerch can stand up there with any course in the Philadelphia area."

Although relatively short by modern standards, at 6,716 yards, Llanerch is no slouch as it demands precise shot-making. Its devilish greens present a course that deserves a course rating of 73.5 and slope of 133.

"When people come out to watch our celebration of the 1958 PGA Championship, they will see many of the people who made history that week," said Joe McNichol, chairman of the 50th anniversary celebration. "And they will see them playing on a course that has been reconstructed in the finest tradition of classical architecture. Let's call it the best of then and now."