When you stand at the first tee at Downingtown Country Club, playing alongside some of the semi-private course's long-tenured members, you can't help but imagine what the facility once looked like.
Back in the first half of the 20th century, the Downingtown golf course (located around 40 minutes west of Center City) was a resort that hosted celebrities of the time, like Mickey Rooney and Robert Goulet.
Members are proud to remember the cache and elite caliber of the club back in the days of Ben Hogan and Sam Snead.
After a few down years recently, the club is making a comeback — under the umbrella of Ron Jaworski's growing golf empire.
Joe Dillon, acting general manager, said Jaworski's group came in last year and immediately began to overhaul the 6,619 yard, par-72 golf course.
"We put down vitamins and packed it with everything the soil needed, the soil was just bland," Dillon said. "We aerified, which hadn't been done in 10 years, and we took down over 100 trees. We also put down 100,000 pounds of sand into the bunkers."
The result is a fair but challenging track that is short enough for golfers of all ages and skill, but with enough trouble in the form of relentless bunkers and small fairways to make par a good score on nearly every hole.
"Length off the tee isn't a must here, but definitely wedges and short game are important," Dante Troiani, the course's director of golf said.
The course has a nice mix of public golfers and over 120 members, making it classy but not too hoity-toity. Jaworski — who has also given the restaurant and banquet halls a makeover — is building Downingtown CC a club that can compete with nearly any in the area.
"He loves this golf course and he wants this golf course to be a leader in the market," Dillon said.
Local knowledge tip: "Definitely need to keep it straight off the tee, it's tree lined and you don't want to miss long."
Price range: From $30 (twilight) to $89 (weekend morning)