Lulu C.C. might be the most fun course in America that anyone can play. The Donald Ross design is filled with quirk, strategic bunkering and interesting green complexes. The design remains mostly untouched from 1918 when Ross redesigned the original nine and built nine new holes, adding it to the lineup of fantastic Philadelphia country clubs.
In the early 2010's Lulu Country Club was a course heading towards decline. The club faced financial strains from the economic downturn and teetered on the brink of closure. It was a situation that I followed closely thanks to some family history. My uncle was the head pro at Lulu for 19 years in the 80s and 90s. For much of the late 2000s and early 2010s it seemed that Lulu would fade away. Thankfully that all changed when it was purchased in 2015. The new ownership invested in the club's biggest asset - the golf course. Matt Stout was brought on as Superintendent and focused on improving playing conditions and bringing Lulu back to its earlier self. Thanks to aerials from the Dallin Archives, it's easy to see what Lulu should be.
Today, Lulu is a semi-private facility that allows public play every day. The revenue from the public play helps subsidize improvements. Progress to date has made today's Lulu a far superior golf course to the one I remember from the early 2000s. The tree removal and greens expansion efforts have brought back more of the Ross charm and enhanced the agronomic conditions. The improvement plan is set to continue at Lulu and their semi-private model is one that more struggling country clubs should mimic.
Like most courses in Philadelphia, Lulu lays on a beautiful property. A road breaks the course into two parts with holes 1-7 playing on half the property and 8-18 on the other. Ross's design predates by ten years his most famous work in the area - Aronimink - and has a distinctly different character. Lulu's charm comes from its unique features. The property is littered with hummocks, rock outcroppings and magnificent green complexes.
Lulu is a course that every golfer should see in the Philadelphia area. It won't grab the headlines of Aronimink, Philadelphia Cricket Club or Merion but it has terrific architecture and features that you can't see anywhere else. Lulu is fun golf, the brand that has you cresting every hill in anticipation of what comes next.