Golf Course Architecture: Issue 53 JULY 2018

Tee Box On a roll What prompted Rolling Green to embark upon this project? Riley Johns: The club wishes to faithfully enhance its William Flynn identity, to be truer to form. They are looking to elevate their membership experience by investing in their golf course and polishing up the craftsmanship in their features. Keith Rhebb: The club prides itself on its Flynn course, yet his intended design has been tweaked a bit over the years. The club recognises this and believes its future lies in restoring the integrity of its design history. Do you have access to good materials to help you understand how the course was originally designed? RJ: Yes. We have already assembled a great amount of archival material that will help us piece together how it was built and evolved over its first few years of existence in 1926-28. It’s these three years we are focusing on. We have Flynn’s original plans, newspaper and magazine articles from that time, and high-quality aerials from the year it first opened. We also discovered a 1928 aerial while doing research at Penn State University which is very useful in helping us determine if there were changes immediately following the first two years of operation. KR: Flynn was known to alter some of his courses after they opened for play. For us to get this restoration right for Rolling Green, we need to ensure that the discrepancies between his original plans and what is there today are the result of Flynn’s doing and not someone else’s work. That’s why the 1928 aerial is so critical to the integrity of this project. It gives us evidence of the changes that Flynn himself made in the years after construction. That discovery by Riley was a godsend! How would you describe Flynn’s work, and is Rolling Greens a typical example? KR: Bold! On a recent tour of Flynn courses, we repeatedly witnessed bold green sites and thought-provoking fairways. While Rolling Green is characteristic of many of Flynn’s courses in terms of bold green sites and strategic shots, it stands out as one of his premier designs because of its routing. It is a relatively compact property, but nothing felt forced or compromised. You can tell that he extensively studied and walked the site to maximise the course’s potential. RJ: I would describe Flynn’s work as bold, strategic, and enduring. He was not afraid to use side slopes and awkward fairway stances in his designs. In fact, he embraced them. It’s not uncommon for a fairway to canter sideways from left-to-right, but then have the hole dogleg right-to-left. Flynn tested a player’s intelligence and their ability to think their way around the course. He didn’t just test one’s physical execution, but also their ability for imagination. Rolling Green is one of his bolder designs, and one of his most incredible routings. The intent of the design from day one was to build a proper test of golf that would challenge the best golfers of its day. It becomes evident when one plays Rolling Green as three of the five par threes on the course stretch over 200 yards. The original mission of the club, when being formed in 1926, was “to omit all social frills that enter into the life of a country club, and make it a shrine where the skill and ingenuity of the lover of the game could have full play”. Rolling Green Golf Club in Springfield, Pennsylvania, USA, recently appointed Riley Johns and Keith Rhebb to restore its William Flynn golf course, which originally opened in 1926. The project sees the two architects collaborating for a second time, following their well-received renovation of the nine-hole Winter Park public golf course in Florida. Toby Ingleton spoke with them to find out more. THE INTERVIEW 30   Golf Course Architecture Riley Johns and Keith Rhebb have been appointed to restore the William Flynn golf course at Rolling Green in Springfield, Pennsylvania Photo: Riley Johns