A view of the 12th hole at Grace from Saucon Valley Country Club.
After World War II, golf course construction boomed in the United States, giving rise not just to world-traveling architects like Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and Pete Dye, but several prolific regional architects. While Geoffrey Cornish brought dozens of new golf courses to New England in the 1950s and 60s, William Gordon had a similar lasting effect on the Mid-Atlantic, and Pennsylvania in particular.

An accomplished mile runner when he was young, Gordon would serve in World War I as an athletics instructor. After the war, he worked in seed sales, then as a seed company’s construction superintendent, helping to build Golden Age golf courses designed by Willie Park, Jr., Devereux Emmet and Donald Ross. This would ultimately set him up to be one of the mid-century’s most accomplished regional architects.

In 1923, Gordon went to work for the golf course design firm established by Howard Toomey and William Flynn, who built several first-rate courses centered in the Philadelphia area, including Huntingdon Valley Country Club, Manufacturers Golf & Country Club and the Wissahickon Course at Philadelphia Cricket Club. Gordon worked with Toomey and Flynn until 1941.

Gordon spent much of the remainder decade building courses for Donald Ross and Ross’ associate J.B. McGovern. He would join both of them in co-founding the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) in 1946.

A view of a green with water coming into play at Stanwich Club
He hung his own shingle in 1950, embarking on a quarter-century campaign in golf course design and renovation. In 1952, he took on his son David as his partner, and the father-son duo would co-design most of the golf courses that bear the family name until the time of William's death in 1974.
Dad just did not like bunkers behind greens.
Architect David Gordon, on father William Gordon
The Gordons’ golf courses were very much in the general style championed by Robert Trent Jones, calling for precision tee shots and approaches. Bunkers usually flanked the line of play, though William Gordon famously detested bunkers that sat behind greens, believing the specter of a slick downhill pitch back to the hole was punishment enough for such a miss. They worked on several private club courses, including Saucon Valley Country Club’s three courses, Sunnybrook Golf Club in Philadelphia and Stanwich Club in Greenwich, Conn. Notable public commissions include the Monocacy Course at municipally-owned Bethlehem (Penn.) Golf Club and the semi-private Deerfield Golf & Tennis Club in Newark, Del.

Although tastes in golf course design have shifted back to a more classic paradigm in recent years, the Gordons’ courses can be relied upon for solid, honest-to-goodness tests of golf that many golfers enjoy playing repeatedly. And in cases where their work has been changed (like at White Manor Country Club, revised by Bobby Weed in 2003), their course routings have often been left intact.
William Gordon: selected golf course designs
Greenwich, Connecticut
Private
5.0
1
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Private
5.0
3
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Private
5.0
3
Newark, Delaware
Public
4.4677294118
273
Charleston, West Virginia
Private
0.0
0
Pottstown, Pennsylvania
Private
0.0
0
Wilmington, Delaware
Private
5.0
2
Buena, New Jersey
Public
3.7273
11
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Public
4.0057764706
168
Jamison, Pennsylvania
Public
4.2879647059
104

Review Statistics

Average Rating

4.4
Average Rating
4.4
785 Reviews (785)
Total 785 Reviews
18 Featured Reviews

Rating Breakdown

18 Reviews
4-5 stars
12
3-4 stars
4
2-3 stars
0
1-2 stars
0
Unrated
2
Avg. Course Layout
4.4
Avg. Off-Course Amenities
4.1
Avg. Value for the Money
4.3
Avg. Pace of Play
4.2
Avg. Friendliness
4.5
Avg. Course Conditions
4.3

William F. Gordon Designed Courses Map

William F. Gordon Designed Courses

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