Johns said that it will be an “evidence-based restoration.” This type of restoration will rely on old aerials and information rather than interpretation of Flynn’s work. Rhebb added, “This is a collaboration with Riley, myself, the club, and the members there.” Before beginning the project, Rhebb and Johns went on a mini-tour of William Flynn golf courses, stopping at Cherry Hills, Denver Country Club, Woodcrest, Lehigh, Monroe, Huntington Valley, Manufacturers, Philadelphia Country Club and Lancaster. “It was informative,” Rhebb said. “Comparing and contrasting some of the other area Flynn courses showcased Rolling Green’s unique and intentional design. He routed it in such a way as to enhance the property’s quality and potential. Rolling Green is a special place, and in the end, we hope to give the club its originally intended design back.”
The duo is currently in the research phase of the restoration. They plan to visit all of Flynn’s notable designs and will be using new technology to try to restore the course to its original design between 1926 and 1930. By putting old aerials and topographic maps into CAD alongside the new ones, they will be able to see exactly how the course has changed over time and be able to restore it to how it was intended. They hope to have a master plan ready for the club in October.
Johns said of Flynn’s greens, “The tilt and how he would play with the illusion of how much tilt there is and which direction it is tilting, I think was his magic touch. I think that’s why his greens are so enduring and fascinating.”
The pair of Johns and Rhebb will be working extensively with Rolling Green superintendent Brian Chapin. Brian is in his first year at Rolling Green after a stint at Paramount Country Club, where he worked with Jim Urbina on a restoration of the famed Tillinghast course.
As it stands today, Rolling Green is one of the best courses in the Philadelphia area. A faithful restoration could vault it into the upper echelon of courses in the golf rich city.