William Flynn (golfer)

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William Stephen Flynn (December 25, 1890 – January 24, 1944) was a prominent golf course architect during the early part of the 20th century. Among Flynn's most notable work are the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Long Island, Cherry Hills Country Club, Lancaster Country Club, and his work at the Merion Golf Club.

Life and career[edit]

Flynn was born in Milton, Massachusetts.[1] He graduated from Milton High School, where he had played interscholastic golf and competed against his friend Francis Ouimet.[2] He laid out his first course at Heartwellville, Vermont, in 1909 and was then hired to assist Hugh Wilson with completion of the East Course at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.[2] He worked as the construction supervisor at Merion and remained on as superintendent for a short time, helping establish the course.[3]

Flynn continued his involvement with Merion for 25 years, perfecting the course. He and Wilson had hoped to form a design partnership, but Wilson's failing health prevented it. Instead, Flynn partnered with Howard Toomey just after World War I with Flynn the designer and Toomey handling the engineering side of the work. They started their own golf architectural firm, Toomey & Flynn. William Gordon, Robert Lawrence and Dick Wilson all started out as assistants with the firm of Toomey and Flynn and all later became prominent designers in their own right. Flynn was particularly active around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, producing numerous highly rated courses which compete with each other for attention.[citation needed] Although his body of work is found around Philadelphia, his most recognizable work is outside the area at places like Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver, The Cascades in Virginia, The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, and Shinnecock Hills on Long Island.[4] In 1927, Flynn added the Primrose nine at The Country Club. Three holes from the Primrose are used on the course's Composite Course for the U.S. Open, but much of Flynn's renovation work at The Country Club goes unnoticed.[citation needed]

The climax of Flynn's career would be Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, where he had his finest site and certainly produced his greatest work.[citation needed] Toomey and Flynn were hired to redesign the original course in 1931 with the addition of new land to build the back nine. Flynn kept only two holes from the original course in a total makeover. Shinnecock is praised for its beautiful routing and Flynn's use of the natural terrain. It is currently ranked third in Golf Digest's 100 Greatest Courses Ranking, the highest of any course Flynn was involved in. Flynn died at the age of 53 in Philadelphia.[1]

Courses designed by Flynn[edit]


  1. ^ a b Elliott, Len; Barbara Kelly (1976). Who's Who in Golf. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House. p. 65. ISBN 0-87000-225-2. 
  2. ^ a b Biography of William S. Flynn
  3. ^ http://thecaddyshack.blogspot.com/2007/06/architect-11-william-flynn.html
  4. ^ Fine Golf Design