The Country Club … Reimagined
Enjoy an affordable, progressive, family-oriented escape from the everyday at Philmont Country Club
by Daniel Sean Kaye

Think “country club,” and what comes to mind? Happy families? Joyful sports competitions? Special events, community outreach, affordable prices? If you’re thinking of Philmont Country Club, you’re imagining all of this and much more.

Founded in 1906, Philmont is a private country club in Huntingdon Valley. In recent years it has become an all-inclusive club with a family-oriented lifestyle, and activities and services to suit every member and guest. The 88,000 square-foot clubhouse offers first-class restaurants and catering. The club’s swimming pool has an adjacent wading pool and playground with supervision. Social activities include specialty dining and events for all ages. There is card playing, golf, tennis and casual dining, and the list goes on and on.

What a 21st Century country club should offer is changing, and Philmont has happily embraced a new vision. “This is a progressive and forward-thinking club,” explains Ed Rubin, general manager. “The clientele has changed, and we offer memberships to attract younger families. It’s not at all stuffy here or ‘your grandfather’s club.’ We already have 51 new members this year, and the majority are younger families.”

Dues have been drastically reduced and restructured as well, to focus on the needs of families. There is a second Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) membership where members of other GAP clubs can golf here for a reduced cost. And current members can get lower dues if they bring in new members. “We want members to bring their friends and families, because the relationships you build here last forever,” says Dianne Kelly, club accountant.

The Beauty of Golf
Philmont has 36 holes of world-class championship golf facilities created by legendary architects William S. Flynn and Willie Park Jr., as well as two putting greens, an oversized chipping green and a long driving range. Head golf pro Mickey Sokalski or one of his staff offer private lessons and run clinics throughout the season. Operating six days a week, there is always availability.

The North Course, with its tree-lined fairways and firm, fast greens, is “our crown jewel, a gold course in the traditional sense,” says Sokalski. The South Course, while shorter, has smaller greens that make it perfect for newer golfers and juniors. “Kids don’t get a lot of play time at most courses,” he adds, “but they can have plenty here.”

Philmont has hosted many prestigious events including the Nike Tour (now the Nationwide Tour), the GAP Joseph H. Patterson Cup, the Philly Open last year and two U.S. kids’ events this year. Local U.S. Open and Amateur competitors qualified here, and Nathaniel Graves—chosen to compete in the 2012 Ryder Cup Junior Golf Academy—and freshman golfer Louis Kelly—an NCAA Division II PING All-Region honoree—train here.

“People don’t realize that the cost here is now less than the price of day camp and the cost of a week or so down the shore—and you get this all year-round,” says Sokalski. “No matter what you want to do, you couldn’t have a better playground to try it on.”

Social Activities
Philmont’s list of member events is always growing, explains assistant general manager Kim Bell. From Sunday family dinners to activities celebrating holidays, children have enjoyed inflatables, balloon artists, a rock wall, a mechanical bull and more. “The Family New Year, when we had a countdown for younger kids, had more attendees than the one for grownups,” she says. “We know parents don’t always want to get babysitters, so now they can celebrate as a family.” Adults’ special events include stone crab/lobster nights, happy hours, trivia nights and gourmet dinners.

The club is very well known for hosting weddings, corporate events, conferences, retirement and anniversary parties, holiday events, bar/bat mitzvahs, seminars, awards programs, holiday banquets and fundraisers, including those for the Police Athletic League, the American Cancer Society, Mary Kate’s Legacy and Philadelphia Building Trades. It has hosted open houses, bridal shows, business card exchanges, post-prom events and various fundraisers to benefit area group.

“We want to become community partners,” says Janet Ruben, director of catering and membership sales. “With two courses, we can hold an outing almost any day of the week. We also have flexible banquet space that can host up to 300 indoor and 180 outdoor, as well as smaller banquet rooms.” They also only host one wedding at a time. “There are no cross brides here. We’ve really adapted, and become much more competitive.”

The Joy of Tennis
One of the most underrated aspects of Philmont may be its tennis. With 10 outdoor Har-Tru well-lit courts (resurfaced every year) and three indoor ones made of cork (softer on the body), the courts offer year-round play. There’s introductory tennis, camp, and a rigorous tournament training/varsity program. Division I college players and the Pennsylvania female state champion have trained here.

“We truly offer something for everyone,” says Jimmy Nigro, director of tennis. “And if we don’t already offer it, we’ll create it.” He’s not kidding. The tennis staff has an ongoing email conversation with members, making sure they are receiving the sort of activities they want from a top-tiered tennis program. They also have three full time and three part-time pros, all of whom are certified by the Professional Tennis Registry, and host United States Tennis Association events.

“Our special events are truly second to none,” adds Nigro. “There’s food, music, round-robins and theme-oriented events. This is a fun recreational business where we want people to come train with us. Our very skilled staff have been playing all their lives.”
With vast amenities, a new focus and membership rates lower than you’d ever dream, Philmont Country Club is an affordable, family-centered oasis for every age. In other words: While most families cram their fun, rest and relaxation into a week’s vacation, Philmont gives its members a year’s worth of laughter, health and memories.

Philmont Country Club is located at 301 Tomlinson Road, Huntingdon Valley. For more information, call 215-947-1271 or visit