Squires: The Last Boys’ Club
July 31, 2016 - accent chair
He never pronounced it in so many words, nonetheless here’s something we schooled from my father when we was a kid: Act like we possess a corner and all will be fine. Exhibit A from my childhood was a annual outing to West Point to see a college football game. My father — being my father; it would take days to explain — had positively 0 seductiveness in parking on a hulk margin among a masses, preferring a some-more isolated mark he’d detected on one of a prior trips. But how to get past a MPs who generally blocked a entrance? No worries: My father would simply speed a Ford LTD past a organisation in uniform, charity a frail salute and channeling his middle three-star general. We never got stopped. Not even once.
I’m meditative about this one new Thursday dusk as we zephyr by a front doors of a hall during Squires, a ultra-exclusive golf bar that sits on 140 acres amid a McMansions and greenery of suburban Montgomery County. Status-wise, Squires is no West Point, nonetheless it’s not nonetheless informative significance: It’s one of about 20 all-male golf clubs left in a United States.
And when we contend all-male, we meant Squires is all-male. Unlike South Jersey’s mythological Pine Valley golf club, that still denies membership to women nonetheless lets them play as guest on Sunday afternoons, Squires would apparently bring not even to have them on a grounds, ever. More than one chairman told me members are disheartened from carrying their wives dump them off or collect them adult during a clubhouse.
This all-dudes-all-the-time atmosphere — not to discuss an arising price in a tens of thousands that positively keeps a dregs out — has, by a years, captivated some of a region’s richest and many successful guys, a undoubted who’s who of Big Swinging Dicks. Among those who are (or have been) members during Squires are titans of competition (current Eagles owners Jeffrey Lurie; late Eagles owners Leonard Tose; former Sixers owners Harold Katz; ex-athletes Julius Erving, Mike Schmidt, Aaron McKie and Garry Maddox), genuine estate and business (PREIT’s Ron Rubin, Campus Apartments’ David Adelman, Morgan Properties’ Mitchell Morgan, financial male and all-around complicated hitter Manny Stamatakis) and even sacrament (the late Cardinal Krol, longtime conduct of a Philadelphia archdiocese). And those are usually a boldface names — okay, boldface-ish; this is Philly — who belong; Squires membership also includes copiousness of millionaires who’ve sensitively done their fortunes in food placement and plumbing tools and other industries that assistance we trust a American Dream isn’t totally dead.
So what do all these dudes do here?
Well, a rumors about Squires are legendary. “It has a repute as a vast gambling club,” emails one friend, a maestro of a internal golfing theatre who’s never played during Squires nonetheless knows a stories. Indeed, we hear tales of a male who once mislaid his automobile franchise on a play during a club; of members personification shirtless and infrequently even naked; of groups teeing off with 7 or 8 players (civilized clubs tip it during four); of one womanlike employee, a bookkeeper, who’s indeed smuggled into a bar weekly in a burka — and not for eremite reasons. As an familiarity who’s played during Squires countless times tells me, “The place usually reeks of maleness.”
My goal this Thursday dusk — a vast night here, when a vast apportionment of a membership typically turns out for golf and drinks and cooking — is to eyeball some of this enterprise for myself, that is since I’m adhering out my chest and gnawing my fingers and doing my best BSD thing (Big Swinging Dick; see above) as we sequence a drink during a bar.
I’m pegged as an interloper about 45 seconds in.
“Who’s your horde tonight, sir?” a barkeeper asks brightly as he slides me a Heineken Light. Really? we mount out that much? Then panic sets in, since I’m definitely confused for a question.
“Uh, uh … God, I’m blanking on his name,” we stammer. The barkeeper is staring during me awkwardly; we don’t trust this is pleasing for possibly of us. Suddenly, we have a brainstorm. “Mr. Blatstein!” we chirp. This would be Bart Blatstein, a genuine estate developer (Northern Liberties, things on Delaware Avenue), who we know is a member here and with whom I’ve been accessible over a past few years. Or during slightest we was accessible with him. At a impulse we don’t cruise we’re indeed speaking, that I’m anticipating a barkeeper is clueless about.
“Ah, Mr. Blatstein,” a barkeeper says with a nod, scribbling on a square of paper before going on about his business.
And usually like that, a feverishness is off.
Speaking of heat: These are wily times for all-male clubs, in a universe of golf or elsewhere. In May, a RA, a unequivocally correct classification that oversees a British Open, announced that Scotland’s storied Muirfield golf bar would no longer be authorised to horde a tournament, following members’ better of a offer to let women join their ranks. “Going brazen we will not theatre The Open during a venue that does not acknowledge women as members,” a RA pronounced in a matter that somehow seemed to have a British accent even nonetheless it was in writing. (Sufficiently shamed, Muirfield members are now slated to have a re-vote.) Also in May, administrators during Harvard sent a shot opposite a crawl of that school’s chosen — and all-male, and kind of sum — Final Clubs, exclusive any male who joins one from heading a campus org or sports team. Practically everywhere we go these days, a informative winds are floating strongly in preference of farrago and inclusiveness.
Which creates a bar like Squires not indispensably involved nonetheless during slightest out of step with a zeitgeist. It also raises an intriguing question: In an epoch when we put so many value on inclusivity, is anyone ever authorised to bar anybody from anything and get divided with it?
Heineken Light in hand, we spend a few mins unresolved in a griddle area of a Squires clubhouse, a pleasing place with immature carpeting, copiousness of tables, a integrate of giant-screen TVs, and a rug unaware a 18th green. Around a room, we observe what we commend as flattering customary no-chicks-and-chill behavior, including a organisation of 6 or 7 organisation who, as they lay in leather chairs and fume fat cigars and watch U.S. Open highlights, bust any others’ balls. (“I done a putt like that today,” one male says as a actor on TV rolls in a 20-footer. “Yeah, too bad it was for an eight,” says another.)
Honestly, it’s all a tiny anticlimactic — as distant as we can see, any bro here has his shirt on — until we mark dual younger guys who travel out to a circuitously 18th immature and dump a turn on a fringe, a good hundred feet from a cup. It takes me a second to figure out what’s going on; afterwards it dawns on me: A putting contest! For money! Granted, this competition is doubtful to go down in Squires lore; a stakes are low adequate — 20 bucks if a male gets a turn in a hole in dual putts — that I’m tempted to take some of a movement myself. But that’s not what’s interesting. What’s engaging is that a notation a twin walks onto a green, everybody seated on a rug stops what he’s doing to watch.
“Seventy-five bucks!” a witness screams, perplexing to adult his ante as one of a guys on a immature lines adult his second putt, a wily 10-footer. When a turn rolls into a cup, a whole rug lets out a roar.
Alcohol, dudes and money. Man, it’s a combo that never lets we down.
SO HOW MUCH do a abounding organisation who hang during Squires wish to keep women away? Here are dual stories we listened that while maybe not 100 percent guileless (look, any version in here was told to me by guys bullshitting about a golf club) during slightest get during a suggestion of a place.
Story series one is about a late member who a few years ago left a boatload of income in his will to assistance ascent a Squires clubhouse. When a pursuit was finished, someone lifted an worried question: Shouldn’t they entice a guy’s widow to a dedication? As a story was told to me, this caused many amazement among a members, with a bar eventually putting a doubt to a vote. A fit to entice a lady to a loyalty passed, barely, nonetheless usually on a condition that she leave a notation a rite was finished.
Story series dual involves a member who was stricken by chest heedfulness one day while during a club. As he sat in a chair clutching his sternum, an ambulance was called. When it screeched adult to a front doorway of a clubhouse, dual EMTs popped out — one male, one female.
“Sorry,” a womanlike paramedic was told. “We can’t let we in.”
The best partial of a story (and a fact that creates me cruise it’s apocryphal): When a plant — who eventually
recovered — was told what had happened, he evinced not an unit of bitterness. “Totally understand,” he said. “Had to do it.”
If all this seems a tiny over a top, well, that’s how things hurl during Squires. Remember, this isn’t usually a bar filled with guys; it’s a bar filled with rich, successful guys who are used to removing their possess way. That means additional is never in brief supply.
Take a parking lot. One day while we was there, we counted 6 Audis, 4 Benzes, 3 Porsches, dual Maybachs, dual Teslas, and one Hyundai with a tiny hole in a door. (Okay, that one’s mine.) As one chairman pronounced to me, “The parking lot during any private bar is filled with good cars, nonetheless Squires is during a whole opposite level.” (Another chairman told me, with many amusement, that when he visited Squires, a members didn’t even worry to park in a lot, instead usually pulling those cost cars right adult on a weed nearby a clubhouse.)
Then there’s a food, that until his genocide a few years ago was overseen by bar member Herb Lotman. Lotman, a turn male with a vast celebrity and an equally vast heart, done a name — not to discuss a happening — for himself as a owner of Keystone Foods, a purveyor of beef, duck and fish to McDonald’s. But not for his associate members a poser beef we assimilate in a Quarter Pounder. No, during Squires, Lotman insisted on usually a biggest lobsters, a highest-quality steaks and a thickest veal chops.
Even a day-to-day review during Squires, it seems, can be on a impassioned side. “They have a lot of unequivocally abounding guys,” says one ex-member who found a whole theatre a bit much. “So there’s lots of speak about element things. You know, mine’s bigger than yours, mine’s faster than yours.”
Interestingly, one thing that’s not quite intemperate is a clubhouse. Rather than screaming gauche, it simply screams guy, with lots of dim timber and leather chairs and sum usually a dude would appreciate. (My favorite: The lavatory stalls in a locker room, any of that has a finely crafted coronet board indicating either we can fume inside it or not. Because apparently there’s zero some-more relaxing than enjoying a stogie while doing your business.)
Squires is a golf club, nonetheless we don’t have to speak to many people to know that golf isn’t unequivocally a point. Yes, a march is good enough, and always in exquisite condition. But one reason a fairways and greens are so sensuous and unmarked is that they get comparatively tiny use. While a standard private-club march competence see some-more than 20,000 rounds per year, Squires members usually play about 7,000.
So if not for a golf, since belong? Status is partial of it. Getting invited to join Squires — and an invitation is a usually approach we can get in — is arrange of a opposite of Groucho’s line about never wanting to go to a bar that would have him as a member. For a certain kind of well-off, successful guy, Squires is a ultimate confirmation that he’s done it.
But usually as critical as standing is a upscale-frat-house ethos. “It’s a place where guys wish to be guys,” says energy counsel Steve Cozen, who became a member some 30 years ago with a blessing of his mother and daughters. (They suspicion he worked too many and indispensable an outlet.) “I like a thought of a place. There’s camaraderie.”
When Squires initial opened, in May 1964, a all-male membership competence have been one of a slightest poignant things about it. That was a tallness of a Mad Men era, when America itself was fundamentally a men’s club, during slightest when it came to who called a shots. That a bar would extent a membership to guys wasn’t radical.
But what gathering a Squires founders — a organisation of 8 Philadelphia-area businessmen that enclosed genuine estate developers, a sovereign judge, and mythological Villanova lane manager “Jumbo” Elliott — was a enterprise to shun a uptight, gloomy boredom of other private clubs. “We wish a excellent golf course, a tiny nonetheless gentle clubhouse, and a place where a male can play a turn of golf and usually be limited by a manners of a diversion and a practice imposed on all golfers,” wrote Herman Watkins, a club’s initial president, in a ruling principles.
That relaxed, anything-goes atmosphere still pervades Squires. One male we spoke with — who’s spent copiousness of time during old-money East Coast clubs like Winged Foot in Westchester County, New York, and Congressional in Washington, D.C. — was dismayed when he visited Squires a few years ago. Those other clubs had despotic manners about things like holding your shawl off in a hall and wearing a coupler in a dining room. Not Squires. “There were guys with their feet on a tables. One male wasn’t even wearing shoes,” he says with a laugh. While no one we spoke to could remember observant anyone golfing naked, an ex-member did tell me about a time his personification partner sported usually a span of underwear. (Nobody would endorse anything about burkas.)
Probably a best instance of this do-as-you-please aura is a gambling that goes on during a place. (Unsanctioned wagering? I’m repelled — shocked!) Every chairman we talked to about Squires mentioned a betting, including some who clearly would have elite not to speak about it. “Uh, I’m certain there have been a few members who’ve mislaid a tiny some-more than they should have,” a differently blunt Cozen said, many vagrant me to pierce on to a subsequent question. (Among them competence have been scandalous gambler Leonard Tose. An ex-member says he wouldn’t be astounded if Tose mislaid a million dollars during Squires in a singular year.)
Gin is a vast diversion inside a clubhouse, with stakes high adequate that it’s not out of a doubt for someone to be down — or adult — 10 grand in a night. Not that any income is exchanged in a open; a total is kept on a sheet, with debts staid later.
Even bigger income is spent during a Calcutta apportionment of a club’s annual tournament, a Derby. we listened stories of pots that swelled into hundreds of thousands of dollars as members play on that teams were expected to win. Excessive? Absolutely. But there’s adequate resources during Squires that losing 10 or 20 grand isn’t expected to means anybody to skip a debt payment.
And apparently, we can feel right during home during Squires even if income isn’t your thing. One day, for instance, Cardinal Krol was in a hall when he — a unrelenting and almighty personality of Philadelphia’s million-plus Catholics — aloud pennyless wind. The male subsequent to him was stunned, nonetheless Krol didn’t skip a beat.
“Yes,” His Excellency pronounced with a guys-will-be-guys wink in his eye, “even cardinals fart.”
SINCE SQUIRES FIRST non-stop a doors a half century ago, America has altered almost — quite when it comes to what’s fair, what’s right, and who gets a chair during a vast kids’ table. As a society, we’ve generally come to an agreement that cultured opposite someone since of competition or ethnicity is wrong. Discrimination still exists — many of it infamous and guileful — nonetheless with a probable difference of Donald J. Trump, Republican hopeful for president, many of us have stopped debating a underlying principle.
Gender, though, is proof to be an area with some-more shades of gray. On a one hand, many people — again, I’m articulate about those outward a troglodyte-American village — trust women should have a same opportunities that organisation do when it comes to education, practice and altogether achievement. And nonetheless as a society, we’ve stopped good brief of observant that organisation and women are accurately a same, and in some cases we concede — even inspire — a sexes to be treated differently. We still gladly pointer a kids adult for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, we order a jaunty competitions along gender lines, and we’re all flattering many down with a value of a occasional boys’ night and girls’ night out.
So here’s a question: On that side of a taste error line does a place like Squires fall? Is it a homogeneous of a incessant boys’ night out — obnoxious, maybe, nonetheless eventually harmless? Or is it something some-more sinister, like a absolute house that refuses to sinecure women in a C-suite?
“I don’t unequivocally cruise about a domestic implications of it,” confesses Ron Rubin, who, during age 84, usually stepped down from his executive purpose during shopping-mall developer PREIT. Rubin tells me he assimilated Squires about 20 years ago since a lot of his friends play there; he didn’t caring many about a no-ladies-allowed inlet of a place. “That competence be an emanate with some women” — he pauses, and we cruise we hear a soothing grin on a other finish of a phone — “but my wife doesn’t care.” (Which competence usually infer a proverb that all politics is local.) Manny Stamatakis also tells me he didn’t cruise about a club’s gender restrictions — again, since his mother doesn’t play: “I theory if we had some womanlike clients we wanted to entertain, I’d take them to one of my other clubs.”
Those who urge all-male golf clubs typically bring a series of rationalizations, from organisation personification a diversion faster than women (a sum generalization, during best) to a fact that even if they’re not behaving like extras from Animal House, guys usually infrequently bring a association of guys, a same approach women infrequently bring that of women. “I unequivocally feel that being in a men-only place is in no approach adverse to women,” says Steve Cozen. “Sometimes being partial of a boys’ bar is a lot of fun.”
Those on a other side, though, contend it’s not that simple, creation a box that men’s clubs continue a centuries-old patriarchy. When women get released from places like Squires, they also get released from a networking and information-sharing and deal-making that go on in such settings — that eventually keeps them on a outward looking in when it comes to carrying genuine power.
The latter evidence has sparked many of a blowback opposite men’s clubs in a past few decades. The highest-profile instance came in a early 2000s, when Martha Burk, afterwards chair of a National Council of Women’s Organizations, led an advertiser protest of a Masters since a horde club, Augusta National, wouldn’t entice women to join. The Southern gentlemen who ran Augusta during a time — we competence remember that one of them was named Hootie — stood their ground, and in 2003 a competition was indeed promote by CBS nonetheless any commercials. Yet it seems even Hootie and a Throwbacks had reduction of a problem with what they were being asked to do (let women into a club) than with a process by that they were being asked to do it (which they viewed as extort by an outsider). “There competence come a day when women will be invited to join a club, nonetheless that preference contingency be ours,” Hootie (his final name is Johnson) pronounced that year. It took a while, nonetheless that day eventually did come, in 2012, when Augusta National certified dual women — one was former Secretary of State Condi Rice — to a ranks.
As for Squires, it’s tough to disagree that a women of Philadelphia wouldn’t somehow advantage if they were authorised in. Not when a club’s members embody some of a richest, many successful people — a Big Swinging Dicks! — in a whole region. Clerical gas notwithstanding, carrying entrance to those guys has some upside.
But before we reject Squires too harshly, cruise dual ironies. The initial is that in a beginning days, Squires was kind of progressive. Not usually was it perplexing to puncture a boredom of Philadelphia’s comparison clubs; it non-stop a doors to a organisation of people — Jews — who were blackballed during many of those other clubs. “We wish a bar that is unlimited as to sacrament and nationality,” Herman Watkins wrote in those ruling principles, “but is indifferent for gentlemen who have in common their enterprise to play golf for a consequence of a diversion and for a delight they get from personification it with one another.” For 1964, that was a flattering radical statement. And it’s one reason Squires has prolonged had a vast Jewish membership. “It’s been a unequivocally opposite bar from a get-go,” says Ron Rubin. “That’s partial of a charm.”
The other irony is that even today, policies during Squires aren’t all that many worse than what we see in a rest of Philadelphia’s private-club world. And they’re a whole lot some-more honest. In 1997, a Blue Bell lady named Wynn Harris filed fit opposite Meadowlands Country Club in Montgomery County, alleging gender bias. The charges she done were sincerely standard of country-club life behind then: As a woman, she faced weekend tee-time restrictions; she was barred from entering a men’s griddle room; and she wasn’t authorised to run for bureau — or even opinion — in a club’s elections.
Two years later, a fit was settled, mostly in Harris’s favor, and a bar done changes designed to put women on some-more equal balance with men. “I trust a jump has been privileged to mangle by a supposed ‘grass ceiling,’” Harris pronounced during a time. “It is my wish that a effects of a allotment we’ve reached with Meadowlands will go distant over a changes during Meadowlands alone.”
So, scarcely 20 years later, have they? Progress has been made, nonetheless many private nation clubs will never be confused with a NOW convention. Women are typically under-represented on many boards, and nonetheless many pithy regulations have been dropped, play is mostly still segregated by gender.
It creates we consternation what’s some-more demeaning: not being authorised into a bar during all, or being authorised in and afterwards treated like a second-class citizen.
GIVEN HOW MUCH a guys during Squires like to gamble, it seems wise to finish this story with a wager. Which unfolding is some-more likely: In 20 years, Squires and clubs like it will have faded totally into oblivion, or women will have gained adequate energy that no one will caring if a garland of BSDs wish to fume cigars on a toilet and play golf nonetheless their shirts on?
I’m not certain that approach we lean, nonetheless we feel sincerely assured about this: The guys during Squires don’t have many seductiveness in changing anything. And maybe we can’t censure them. While Augusta National’s temperament is tied adult in hosting a Masters, that of Squires is many some-more connected to a boys’-night-out atmosphere. Squires with women would radically stop being Squires.
As for me, we have one admission to make. That Thursday night when we crashed a bar and charged a drink to Bart Blatstein? (Hey, Bart, there’s a tenner entrance your way. … ) That wasn’t my initial revisit to a club. Thanks to a crony of a crony of a friend, we managed to play during Squires a few weeks earlier. It was a stately morning, and we got to suffer a march and shake hands with a conduct pro, Ken Peart, who’s been there some-more than 40 years. Was a turn any opposite since there were no women around? Hard to contend (though during no indicate did we feel compelled to mislay any clothing).
Afterward, we done some tiny speak with a locker-room attendant. “All those stories we hear about Squires?” he said. “They’re mostly exaggerated.”
I nodded; we wasn’t unequivocally surprised. we know this for sure: One thing guys do when no women are around is try to tip any other with absurd stories.
Published as “The Last Boys’ Club” in a Aug emanate of Philadelphia magazine.