Biography of William S. Flynn


      Born in 1890 in Milton, Massachusetts, golf course architect William S. Flynn died at the age of 54 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Flynn graduated from Milton High School, where he had played inter-scholastic golf and competed against his friend Francis Ouimet. He laid out his first course at Hartwellville, Vermont, in 1909 and was then hired to assist Hugh Wilson with completion of the East Course at Merion Golf Club in Merion, Pennsylvania.

     Flynn found his services as a course architect much in demand as a result of his work at Merion. He and Wilson had hoped to form a design partnership, but wilson's failing health prevent it. Instead, Flynn joined forces after World War I with Wilson's friend Howard Toomey, a prominent civil engineer. Flynn was responsible for design and construction while Toomey handled business and financial matters. Hugh Wilson continued to collaborate on courses until his death in 1925. William Gordon, Robert Lawrence and Dick Wilson all started out as assistants with the firm of Toomey and Flynn and all later became prominent designers in their own right.

     Flynn's second love was the art of greenkeeping. He lectured at Penn State and he wrote many articles and pamphlets on the subject. He also started a number of men in the profession, including the great Joe Valentine, long-time superintendent at Merion, whom he met when he himself was serving as greenkeeper at Merion prior to World War I.