Philly Muni – FDR

FDR:  6,004 from the blues with a slope of 116.

Course: Located in FDR Park across the street from the Linc and Citizen’s Park, this course is usually saturated, wet, and muddy. It should be golf cart only virtually all the time and you will see cart tracks throughout. There are a lot of forced carries over brush land and some ponds which actually results in some fun shots. A lot of the holes also have interesting angles and approach shots and bunkers never really seem to come into play. Probably the best thing about this course is the practice facility. Natural grass tee range and a large short game area, which is a rarity among the area’s public courses. I will say this is the place to work on your short game if you’re not playing White Clay or Scotland Run. I like grabbing a couple PBR’s, throwing out a half dozen balls and working on my lobs and bump and runs. Some times that can be better than an actual round as far as golf experiences go. Playing the course itself would, or should be, an option now and then to work on your game when I you don’t feel like paying too much and want to experience some different type holes, but the gripes section will explain why this course is not on my radar for anything other than short game work.

Gripes: Really, this course should be re-named the South Philly Country Club. Running into rough characters is not hard. Not friendly either. Envision denim shorts, white shirt or wife beater, depending on the weather, and your choice of hats, either Phillies, Eagles or Yankees. Or envision crocodile old guys who truly believe you’re intruding on THEIR course. Ugh. I can get over the clientele pretty easily, but the green fees are too high when you consider dealing with said crowds, course conditions (probably 3/10) and a backed up course (most of the time). One of the things I can’t get over is many courses like this charge just as much as some where nicer down the road. I don’t know if they’re depending on the regulars along with some stragglers who don’t know any better, but I generally believe you’d have more people in the door with cheaper rates. Money brings a lot of forgiveness for crappy tee boxes and bunkers, or having to hit your ball out of a tire track for the 20th time. If I ever had the money, I’d buy a course like this and test it out. Charge less money, keep conditions and facilities sufficient, stock the cooler and service always smiling. Something tells me it’d work. As it stands here, and a lot of other courses, you’re expected to over pay and apologize for coming. I’m not an economist, but I believe supply is bigger than demand in the area so I’ll pass.

Bar/grill: They sell snacks, but cheap beer (a weakness of mine).

Clubhouse: Don’t even think about it, not that you would anyways. The crocodiles are hanging out and how dare you even come in to pay for your range balls.

Nearby: The stadiums and Chickie and Pete’s. May not work unless you have Phils tiks or something.

Getting there: Either 95 Broad Street, go down Broad from Center City or 76E near the airport exit. You’re high if you go near there during any of the games.

Update, July 2012:  I was in the area and had a couple hours to kill, so I thought it was time to hit up FDR again, as it’s been a few years since I played the course.  Going into the clubhouse, the cashier got off the couch, where he was sitting next to his girlfriend watching t.v.  I asked if the course was crowded and all he could tell me was that the league was playing the front 9, so I would have to play the back 9, but had no idea if it wad backed up or wide open.  I walked out and looked at the Tenth, saw it was open and paid the $25 to play 9 holes.  It’s still in terrible condition, but the greens were all in great shape.  I don’t know what kind of grass it is, but the greens almost look out of place when you’re hitting your ball up a mostly dirt and weedy fairway.  I hope this is the first step of many to get this course in respectable shape again.  As it stands, dirt and dust would kick up and blow on you after most shots and especially on the tee.  My cart had to be be an antique; it chugged along at a brisk 2 mph, back firing and sputtering up and down the fairways.  I actually grew fond of it, as we took our time cruising around, listening to the traffic off 95 and getting some wafes of the nearby landfills and scrap yards.

The other big thing that stuck out for me here was how easy the course was.  The slope reflects that, but it was real easy.  It didn’t help that the fairways were all burned out, so you got tons of run on your shots.  There were a few carries over brush land.  I only played the back 9, so I came across that on the Tenth, when your second shot must carry it and you have to take something off your the shot; and Eleventh, which is basically the same as the Tenth except you tee off to a downhill fairway.  The Fifteenth is a dog leg right to an uphill green, the Sixteenth dog legs left severely and also features an uphill green while the Seventeenth and Eighteenth are straight, par 3 and 4, respectively.

Despite my barbs for this place, they are really big on the First Tee program and teach a lot of kids the game.  The practice area is still respectable for a muni course.  And those greens were surprising to see. Hopefully they’re saving their pennies to make the fairways, then off fairway areas, in the condition just like the greens and they would have a nice enjoyable oasis of a place in the area that would probably get more people in the door.  As it stands now, I’m sure they have a loyal following and enough stragglers to stay in business.  But they could do better.

I took some photos:

The approach at the Eleventh.  The green looks good after all this brown

The approach at the Fifteenth.  An example of a terrible fairway.  

The Eighteenth.  Much better.

Where my drive landed.  A little bragging on my part.  

Another look at that drive.  This is a par 4.  I’ll take that any day.

3 thoughts on “Philly Muni – FDR

  1. I am now living about 5 blocks from this place, and have been reluctant to try it. I know I will eventually since it's so so close. Your udpdate is 6 years old at this point but most current reviewers continue to give this place very low marks. Since my handicap is dreadfully high, I suspect I'd enjoy my looking at my scorecard after 18 holes – IF as you said, the price is right. No $45 11:00 AM Sunday tee times for me. I suspect it's worth about $25. Hopefully, what I've read about the surly service and grizzly regulars from several other reviewers is exaggerated. I'll keep you posted.

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  2. Alas, the end near for this south Philadelphia staple. Proposed park renovation plans leave no room for golf and Billy Casper Golf has publicly announced an Oct 2019 closure. As tattered as it is, it has hosted many many many rounds to city residents. Selfishly, I am saddened. One silver lining is rumors that First Tee will still have a facility at FDR, but I suspect they will focus on Walnut Lane where they seem to be more directly involved in the future of the course.

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  3. R.I.P. FDR. I’ve heard that First Tee will bulk up their Walnut Lane presence while sacrificing this location. I’ve read hints there are strong intentions to have First Tee be an indispensable component of the much-anticipated Cobbs Creek Renovation and Watershed Conservation initiative.

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