Rolling Green - Pennsylvania - USA

Rolling Green Golf Club,
280 North State Road,
Pennsylvania (PA) 19064,

  • +1 610 328 5535

  • Golf Club Website

  • 10 miles W of Philadelphia city centre

  • Members and their guests only

Formed by a group of Springhaven Country Club members in 1924, Rolling Green Golf Club engaged the highly regarded architectural partnership of William Flynn and Howard Toomey to lay out a course over a 157-acre site and their 18-hole design duly opened for play in 1926.

Interestingly, most of the founding members of Rolling Green Golf Club were followers of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, from the nearby town of Swarthmore and their aim 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”.

With social drinking frowned upon, it wasn’t until 1970 that anyone could purchase alcohol from the bar – now how many clubs could have survived almost 50 years without such an important source of income? And when the club was honoured with hosting the US Women’ Open in 1976, most of the competitors would surely have been happy to drown their sorrows in the clubhouse after returning four round scores of +8 or more!

It’s easy to see why anyone will struggle to put together a score at Rolling Green when you examine the undulating landscape and the way the greens are designed to repel all but the most accurate approach shots to the pin. In fact, with a good number of holes played uphill, many of the putting surfaces will reward a running shot easier than an a ball arriving from a more aerial route.

The balance and variety of holes on this old classic makes it an absolute joy to play with the natural use of the topography by the architects so easy on the eye. Many regard the 12th as one of the finest short par fours in the game. From an elevated tee, a long iron played left of centre will set up an approach shot to a small green that lies on an upslope at right angles to the fairway. The putting surface is protected by one bunker to the right and four to the left, with a severe drop off to the rear - yet another brilliant example of a hole not having to be long to be difficult.

In July 2010, we received the following update from one of Rolling Green’s members: “In the Fall of 2008 the course underwent a $1 million restoration where all bunkers were restored to their original shape and size and more than 1,000 trees were removed from the course. While I may have some bias I strongly believe that Rolling Green is the 3rd best course in the greater Philadelphia area: Merion and Aronomink still rank ahead. We are currently in discussions with the USGA to host an upcoming Women’s US Amateur Championship.

We were notified in early 2022 that a course restoration under the direction of Gil Hanse began in October 2021, following a tree removal program which thinned out almost a thousand trees throughout the layout.

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Reviews for Rolling Green

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Description: It’s easy to see why it's a struggle to score well at Rolling Green Golf Club when you examine the undulating landscape and the way the greens are designed to repel all but the most accurate approach shots... Rating: 7.4 out of 10 Reviews: 5

I believe Rolling Green is a championship caliber course containing some of William Flynn's best work. The routing in the 150 acres of property that makes up Rolling Green is really impeccable, especially in the property's corners at the 5th/6th and 11th/12th.

The course always plays extremely difficult, thick rough, extremely penalizing bunkers and greens like lightning. However, the part that makes this course so difficult is the false front's in front of many greens. If your ball does not make it up there, it will consistently roll 30-40 yards off the front. In 2021 this course hosted the Forme tour, created by the PGA due to temporary covid restrictions in Canada. I went to the event, and a lot of the players I talked to said this was easily the best course they played the entire time.

July 09, 2022
8 / 10
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Mark White

Pennsylvania is a golf-rich state and one wonders whether if it had the population on California, New York or Florida that it could become the best state in the USA for golf. Much of the best golf is in the Philadelphia area including Merion East, Philadelphia Cricket Club Wissahickon and Aronimink. The second tier of courses includes Rolling Green, Huntingdon Valley Toomey/Flynn, Gulph Mills, Applebrook, Stonewall Old, and Philadelphia CC Spring Mill. A third tier of wonderful golf clubs has Manufacturers’, Whitemarsh Valley, Chester Valley, and Waynesborough. A fourth tier includes Llanerch, Lookaway, Philadelphia Cricket Club Militia Hill, St Davids and Sunnybrook. There are about five others that are of merit as well. If one were to extend the line to courses within 75 minutes drive they would pick up Lehigh, the three courses at Saucon Valley, Lancaster Meadowcreek & Dogwood and Moselem Springs. It results in a nice long discussion with the locals as to the order.

For me the second tier of courses of Philadelphia’s suburbs is led by Rolling Green, a masterful design by William Flynn that lays atop probably the most undulating land of the courses in the area. That too is a tough debate given the land movement at Huntingdon Valley, Manufacturers’ and Gulph Mills. What puts Rolling Green at the top of the second tier is the consistency of the quality of the holes, its fine collection of par 3’s that are in the top three in the area and the wonderful green complexes. If Huntingdon Valley could have maintained its wonderful starting holes and finished on a better hole, the discussion might be different as to whether it should be in the first tier.

Mr. Flynn did a masterful job in his routing, somewhat reminiscent of Muirfield in Scotland in that the outer nine basically goes in a clockwise movement mostly along the outer edges of the property. The second nine primarily moves counter-clockwise although it does shift directions similar to the back nine at Muirfield. There is not a hole at Rolling Green that does not feel forced into the land or that creates a too-weird slope. Many of the holes are dramatic due to the way the land slopes or rises, or in the case of some par 3’s require a long carry over a valley. It is one of the better routings I have played in the USA.

The second quality aspect to Rolling Green are its green complexes with green surfaces that are sloped, with subtle tiers. The course does lack more interesting greenside contouring as it relies more on the greenside bunkering and gentler fall-offs near the greens.

The course is known in the area for its par 3’s, the wonderful eighth hole, the long par 5 ninth at over 617 yards playing slightly uphill, and the splendid twelfth and thirteenth.

Rolling Green is a par 71 due to having five par 3’s. The back tees play just under 7000 yards rated 74.7/143. The Blue tees are 6700 yards rated 73.7/140. It can be a difficult course particularly if one does not know the greens.

1. Par 4 – 419/404. This slightly uphill hole features one fairway bunker down the right side. The green sits up a bit, is large and is very undulating and quick. There is a deep bunker off the left side. This is not a gentle handshake.

2. Par 4 – 450/433. The second is a lovely hole turning left with three early bunkers on the inner corner followed by a single bunker left about 50 yards apart. The green is set off slightly left with shallower flanking front corner bunkers. It is better to miss long on this hole. At Rolling Green, the opening holes are difficult.

3. Par 3 – 175/167. The green appears smaller than it is due to the two long bunkers going down either side. The green tilts to the left. It is a good par 3 but probably the weakest on the course given what is to come.

4. Par 4 – 394/378. This is one of the easier holes on the course playing with a slight bend to the left due to the angle of the green. There are no fairway bunkers but the green is well defended with three bunkers.

5. Par 4 – 426/372. This is a strong golf hole playing essentially straight but with a large bunker on the right forcing most players to the left side of the fairway. As an added bonus, the left side of the fairway offers the better line into a green angled left to right with a very large bunker on the right side and a smaller one on the left. The green is large but with various sectional slants.

6. Par 3 – 207/190. It’s a bit of a hike to this tee. A well-executed shot is required here due to the three bunkers that protect this green. The hole plays uphill with a longer false front at the green. If there was a bunker at the rear this hole would be even better.

7. Par 5 – 515/501. The hole plays downhill then up and the tee offers a nice view of this hole. A small stream bisects the fairway but should not be in play for one’s second shot. Trees on the left of the hole so two fairway bunkers are placed on the right about 100 and 30 yards from the green, respectively. A final large bunker is placed on the left side of another angled green this time going to the left.

8. Par 4 – 444/425. One of my favorite holes is the eighth which goes sharply uphill adding to its length. Another stream bisects the fairway in a diagonal right to left although longer hitters can clear it off the tee in order to make the second shot more manageable. Many players will play to the left side of the fairway short of the green leaving a very long 210 yards or more uphill second. The green has a bunker front right and one on the left side. This green is tilted back to front and is very speedy.

9. Par 5 – At over 600 yards from both the Black and Blue tees, this hole was one of the most memorable par 5’s in the Philadelphia area due to its length and being slightly uphill. These days more and more par 5’s are being built that exceed 600 yards so the novelty of the hole has diminished a bit. Yet when on stand on the tee you know you are far away from the clubhouse but the hole is so long is gets you back essentially to the rear door. The land rises as well with a left to right slope. There is an early bunker on the right off the tee that catches a lot of balls. The fairway then narrows followed by another fairway bunker 100 yards short of the green. The green itself has protection both in the flanking side bunkers and a narrow entrance. On many courses this might be the most memorable hole but at Rolling Green there are several that exceed it.

10. Par 3 – 258/244. The back nine begins in the opposite direction of the first. Adding to the length of the hole is that it is also uphill. The length of the hole presents enough of an obstacle for most players, yet the difficulty is ramped up by the bunkering which begins with three bunkers on the left side, the first beginning about 55 yards short of the green. The final bunker on the left is wide, long, and deep. There is an added bunker on the right middle of this angled green tending to the left consistent with the slope of the green. A birdie feels impossible here and a par is very well earned.

11. Par 4 – 450/431. Another long hole follows the tenth. This is another pleasant view from the tee as the hole falls away from the tee then rises to the green. A single bunker is on the left of the fairway but typically only in play for longer hitters. The ground cants towards this bunker. The green has a narrow opening due to the flanking front corner bunkers. The green lacks internal movement other than slant.

12. Par 4 – 361/361. This is the heaviest bunkered hole on the course with nine. The hole is a dogleg right with a single outer corner bunker and a collection of three large bunkers on the inner corner. Better players will drive over them and be rewarded with not only a shorter approach but also a better angle into the green which is angled to the right and protected by front flanking bunkers. A collection of three small bunkers goes down the back left of the green. The green is on higher ground back-dropped by a lovely stone cottage. The green is steeply banked to the right. Much like the twelfth it is a lovely view from the tee. Even though one believes this is a breather hole, the bunkering and green slope make it a challenge.

13. Par 4 – 442/434. This hole used to feel a bit suffocating but tree removal has opened up the views. This hole plays level with a stream crossing the fairway at around 320 yards. Most hitters cannot reach the stream and there is no real point in trying to carry it as one should have a shorter club in their hand for the approach. There is a landing zone of perhaps 60 yards on the other side of the stream. The green is set into a bank of higher ground with a single bunker on the left with a tilt to the right. I thought this to be an optimal place for two bunkers at the back of the green.

14. Par 3 – 235/203. For many this will be the most memorable hole on the golf course due to playing across a valley followed by a walk atop a bridge to the green that sits on higher ground. The green is angled to the right with three bunkers on that right side and a long single bunker on the left middle. In the distance behind the green one can make out the clubhouse and the flagpole. The green has a steep tilt towards those bunkers on the right. It is one of the best par 3’s one will play.

15. Par 4 – 384/384. This dogleg left is probably the most fun hole on the course playing downhill but then back uphill to the green. The tee shot should not present much of a problem other than the scattered trees on the left. Most of the danger is near the green. A deep bunker is placed 50 yards short of the green on the left followed by another collection of three bunkers on the right of the green and two bunkers spaced apart on the left side. These are some of the deeper greenside bunkers on the course.

16. Par 3 – 170/163. The final par 3 is a good one as it is also well defended by four bunkers with three at the front and one at the left rear corner. Once again you play across lower ground to a green placed on a higher plateau. The green has a tilt to the right.

17. Par 5 – 501/473. The golfer has been faced with some long par 4’s before arriving at the seventeenth where finally they get a shorter par 5. This hole plays as a sharp dogleg left with the dogleg coming early in the hole. The brave player will play over the large, deep inner corner bunker. Another fairway bunker is on the left about 75 yards short of the green. The green is protected by front flanking bunkers creating another narrow front to the green. The back part of the green seems to have a higher spine going through it. This hole provides a good chance at birdie or eagle for the better player.

18. Par 5 – 493/527. I always play this as a par 5 instead of a par 4 as I want the additional stroke in exchange for only 35 more yards. The finale is a dogleg right with scattered trees down the right side and no fairway bunker in play. The only fairway bunker is well up the right side after the corner. There is a final fairway bunker on the right about 30 yards short of the green. A large bunker goes down the left side of the green. Like many holes at Rolling Green, the hole plays down then sharply uphill to the green. As a par 4 this is a very difficult hole but as a par 5 when combined with the four previous holes, there is a good chance one can salvage a round that might have hit some difficulties along the way.

Rolling Green is a very fine golf course and for me the best that William Flynn designed in the Philadelphia area. It has certainly been worthy of the USGA events held there.

If eighteen is played as a par 5, the final four holes are the more gentle ones on the course. The 14 holes that come before that all present a real challenge. If the greens had more internal movement, more interesting greenside contouring, and the greenside bunkers built another two feet deeper, this course would be mentioned alongside Mr. Flynn’s more famous designs. If in Philadelphia, one should add this as their fourth course on their itinerary.

I also believe that if this course was located in another state that did not have a high number of quality courses, it would likely be in the top three in that state.

April 24, 2022
7 / 10
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M. James Ward

The immediate Philadelphia area is stacked with an array of top tier designs and much of that stems from the handiwork of the efforts from William Flynn. In my travels -- only the metro New York City area is deeper in terms of architectural gems created and located so near to one another.

Rolling Green is blessed with land that provides plenty of movement although early on that's not the case. The opening hole appears rather benign but you find out as soon as walk onto the green it's anything but easy.

One of the real challenges presented at Rolling Green is the constant need to hit stellar approaches. When the greens are moving at a quick pace heaven help those who far too often leave themselves lengthy approach putts. The targets are also located in different setting -- some above and some below. Being able to marry the length and trajectory for the shots needed is no small task and it is Flynn's way of weeding out the golf pretenders from the serious contenders.

Like most Flynn courses the collection of par-3 holes is extremely well done. The five holes vary in length and are rigorous in only rewarding execution at the highest of levels. It is especially noteworthy to see a club having long par-3s playing a prominent factor with the uphill 10that 258 yards and the equally brilliant uphill 14th at 235 yards providing a thorough examination.

To score well at Rolling Green one needs to get off to a fast start because when you reach the long par-4 5th the intensity meter ratchets up considerably. The constant changes in terms of elevation make fine tuning of club selection absolutely imperative. Flynn's craftiness is clearly evident because the wherewithal to low scoring can only be achieved with a high degree of quality shotmaking.

When you reach the par-4 8th the design moves into warp speed with one hole following another where you are riveted with what you're facing. The concluding long par-4 18th -- played as a par-5 for the members -- is a grand climax as you need to work the ball properly off the tee on this dog-leg right hole and then follow-up with a laser-like approach to the uphill target.

Kudos to Flynn for a dynamic routing. You are constantly having to make adjustments -- the ultimate sign of greatness in course design. One cannot allow one's guard to drop -- for nothing is given at Rolling Green -- you earn it all.

Those coming to The City of Brotherly Love will undoubtedly want to play Merion East and Aronimink given the considerable pedigrees each has. Yet, Rolling Green is easily among the finest in the Philadelphia area and for those who are Flynn devotees your portfolio will not be complete until you sample this exquisite layout.

On the private side of courses, the Keystone State is one of America's best for the sheer depth of courses it provides. In my mind, Rolling Green is a clear contender for top ten placement and if someone wishes to name ten other courses that would keep it from being in such high company I am more than eager to debate the merits.

M. James Ward

May 09, 2020
9 / 10
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Jonathan Wilson

Played Rolling Green for the first time this summer. Has a great variety of holes and is one of the most fun golf courses I have ever played. The greenside bunkering, however, should not be messed with. From the tee or approach they appear to be pretty benign bunkers, but once closer to them, you can notice how deep and difficult they would be to get out of. If in the philly area, this is certainly a course you should try to play.

October 13, 2019
7 / 10
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I played Rolling Green last September for the first time and there is no doubt in my mind that this is one of William Flynn’s best designs. The greensites are among the most formidable I’ve ever seen and the greenside bunkering is terrifying. The start is gentle and the course ups its game from the 5th and simply gets better and better with the ravine drama and greens that are as tough as any I’ve ever played. Sadly the course condition was not a patch on the architecture and somewhat detracted from the experience. I’d say its ranking is about right, but if the conditioning can be improved it should be well inside the PA top ten.

February 05, 2018
6 / 10
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