Cobbs Creek in Philadelphia takes next steps in transformation

  • Cobbs Creek Golf

    Cobbs Creek Foundation has appointed Troon to manage operations of Cobbs Creek Golf Campus in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Cobbs Creek TGR Learning Lab
    Cobbs Creek Foundation

    Construction is underway on the TGR Learning Lab, designed by Tiger Woods’ TGR Design

  • Cobbs Creek TGR Learning Lab
    Cobbs Creek Foundation

    A visualisation of the lab, which is expected to open in early 2025

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Cobbs Creek Foundation has selected Troon to manage operations at Cobbs Creek Golf Campus, which is currently under development in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Troon’s selection is the latest step in the revitalisation and transformation of the historic Cobbs Creek municipal facility.

The Olde course opened in 1916 with a design attributed to Hugh Wilson, who also laid out the nearby East course at Merion. Wilson was supported on the Cobbs project by AW Tillinghast, George Thomas, William Flynn, George Crump and William Fownes. The Karakung course at Cobbs, designed by Alan Corson and A. H. Smith, was added in 1929.

In its early years Cobbs was viewed by many as one of the best public courses in America and was home to some of America’s pioneering black and female golfers, including Charlie Sifford, the first black member of the PGA Tour. In 1955 and 1956 Cobbs hosted, and Sifford competed in, the PGA Tour’s Philadelphia Daily News Open.

Over the years, the facility went into decline. The clubhouse was lost to fire in 2016 and the course’s previous lease ended in 2019.

In 2022, non-profit Cobbs Creek Foundation was granted a new 70-year lease to restore and operate the golf course. The foundation has a goal to raise $100 million from individual donors and public funds to fund a transformation, including the restoration of the Olde course by Jim Wagner of Hanse Golf Design, a new nine-hole course by Wagner, a TGR Learning Lab and a short course from Tiger Woods’ design firm, a two-tiered driving range and an educational golf centre.

Read more: In the April 2019 issue of GCA, Jim Wagner spoke about the restoration of Cobbs Creek.

The first task has been the restoration of the creek, the most difficult and costly partly of the project, to help mitigate historic flooding issues on the property. This also involved work on Indian Creek and adjacent tributaries, and the development of new wetlands.

Construction is now underway on the TGR Learning Lab, which is expected to open in early 2025. The 30,000-square-foot facility will provide young people (the goal is to reach 4,500 local students a year) with free access to science, technology, engineering, arts and maths education as well as college and career readiness programmes. 

TGR Design’s short course is scheduled for completion in 2025, as is an 84-bay driving range that will feature Toptracer technology, food and beverage spaces, pro shop, restaurant and bars, event space and a ‘heritage centre’ where guests can learn about the history of Cobbs Creek. The Cobbs Creek Foundation also hopes the First Tee of Greater Philadelphia will have a presence at the facility.

The restored Olde course is scheduled to open in summer 2026 while the new nine-hole layout is planned for 2027.

“Cobbs Creek has been an important part of Philadelphia for over a century – from the land’s history prior to it becoming a golf course to its significant contribution to equal rights and encouraging diversity in the sport,” said Troon president and CEO Tim Schantz. “The new Cobbs Creek will represent more than a reborn golf course. It will be a model for introducing new golfers to the game, recreation, education, sustainability and community. Providing the canvas for area residents (and those visiting the area) to connect, learn and grow. We are thrilled and honoured to collaborate with the Cobbs Creek Foundation, TGR Foundation and other supporters who share this vision.”