McCall Field was originally named “Kelly’s Field” when it was dedicated in 1912 and was primarily used for baseball competition between Company teams which in the future would form PECO Energy. In 1919 the property was dedicated to the fifteen PECO employees who died in France in WWI and was renamed “Howard McCall Field” in honor of Captain Howard McCall who also died in combat in 1918. Howard was the son of Joseph McCall, president of PECO. It was also in 1919 at the opening of the grounds for the season that Mr. McCall indicated he could not understand why more employees did not use the facilities and that no additional property would be purchased until the current tract was being utilized to the fullest extent by employees.
The answer to this dilemma seemed to be a “miniature” nine-hole course. Coincidentally Donald Ross, a noted golf course designer, was in the Philadelphia area doing some work on a number of local golf courses. An employee of the Company, who was a long time friend of Mr. Ross, asked him if he would lay out a miniature course. Mr. Ross was provided a topographical map of the property and drew up a simple plan for nine short par 3s with no bunkers that would sit on cut meadow grass and the course opened for play in June 1919.
Golf caught on like wild fire at McCall and in 1920 two adjacent tracts of land were purchased with the express purpose of adding a new nine-hole course. This new nine-hole course was to be designed by William Flynn, another noted golf course designer. The Flynn nine was a mixture of par 3s and short par 4s, none stretching to 370 yards and was opened for play in 1923.
With two nine-hole layouts in place and with subsequent land purchases the “formal” course was extended to 15 holes in 1928 and ultimately to an 18-hole course in 1935. Eighteen holes of strategically intriguing golf rolling across just 4,600 yards of tumultuous landscape with tiny, sophisticated greens, most framed with bunkers, and a series of flirtations with Cobbs Creek to make things even more interesting.
The course now is 4,469 yards from the tips; par 66; 63.3 rating – making precision absolutely paramount; miss a green and your score can add up quickly. It is no fluke that 13 winners of club championship at other clubs first tempered their games on McCall’s exacting crucible. Former Golf Association of Philadelphia President, Neil McDermott of Llanerch, is one of them.