At Llanerch, our heritage reaches beyond the golf course to the pro shop.
Over the years, we’ve had some distinguished head professionals who have made Llanerch a big part of their careers.
In 1933, the club hired Denny Shute to replace John Edmundson as the golf professional. He was a prominent pro who had won several tournaments and was a member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 1932, 1933 and 1937. In his first year of representing Llanerch, he won the British Open and later won two PGA Championships. Later in his career Denny was named to the PGA and World Golf Halls of Fame.
After Denny left Llanerch to tour full time, the members replaced him replace him with Marty Lyons, who had started his Llanerch association as a caddy in 1914 and had advanced to caddy master and then assistant pro. He was hired as the head golf professional in 1935.
Marty was president of the local PGA for six years and was a vice-president and secretary of the national PGA. Due mainly to his influence, the club hosted at least one professional tournament every year from 1935 through 1946. Some of these tournaments attracted the best professionals in the country. One that will stay in the record books for a long time is the Philadelphia Inquirer Invitation Tournament of 1945. It was the seventh of eleven consecutive tournaments won by Byron Nelson.
In 1958 Marty received permission from the Board of Directors to invite the PGA to hold their championship at Llanerch in 1958. They accepted the invitation and that particular tournament became even more prominent because it was the first time they used the medal play format in the PGA Championship. This change to medal play was influenced greatly by a letter from Marty to Joseph Cronin, PGA of America President requesting such a change.
After Marty died suddenly 1968 while attending a meeting of the Philadelphia PGA, Bob Pfister had the unenviable job of replacing a legend. After Bob left Llanerch in 1991 one of his assistants, Ben Lesniak, became the head golf professional.
Ben was the head golf professional at Llanerch for 19 years.
In 2010, Llanerch welcomed an entire new Golf Professional Staff. Chris Wilkinson survived 3 rounds of interviews and 112 applicants to be hired in November of 2009 as Head Golf Professional. He brings with him a wealth of experience at some of the finest private clubs in the country including The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, Wilmington Country Club in Delaware and Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.
One of the things that attracted Chris to Llanerch was the long tenures of the Golf Professionals before him. He is aware of the fact that Llanerch has had only five Head Professionals in its 109 years of history. He looks forward to continuing that tradition and having a long career here.