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  • Writer's pictureJerry Covella

New Jersey's Greatest Golf Course Designer?

During a recent post-round session at the local watering hole, the conversation turned to great golf course designs in New Jersey. Then someone asked who is the greatest designer ever in The Garden State?


While that one query

prompted a 45-minute conversation, it was obvious that determining the "greatest" golf course designer in New Jersey is subjective and could vary depending on individual opinions and criteria.


However, let the record show that one of the most prominent and influential golf course designers associated with New Jersey is A.W. Tillinghast.


Albert Warren Tillinghast, commonly known as A.W. Tillinghast, was a prolific golf course architect whose work had a significant impact not only in New Jersey but also across the United States. Tillinghast designed several notable courses in New Jersey, including the renowned Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, which has hosted multiple major championships including U.S. Opens.


Tillinghast was known for his innovative designs that incorporated the natural landscape to create challenging yet playable courses. His designs often featured strategic bunkering, undulating greens, and a variety of shot options to test golfers of all skill levels. Beyond Baltusrol, Tillinghast also left his mark on other New Jersey courses such as Ridgewood Country Club and Somerset Hills Country Club.


While A.W. Tillinghast is often regarded as one of the greatest golf course designers associated with New Jersey, other designers like Donald Ross, Seth Raynor, and Robert Trent Jones Sr. have also contributed significantly to the state's golf landscape. Each designer brought their own unique style and influence to the courses they created, adding to the richness and diversity of New Jersey's golfing heritage. In the modern era, Tom Fazio, Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry, Ron Whitten and Stephen Kay have all had a major influence on course designs in New Jersey.


Of course, the conversation would not be complete without bringing the name Crump into the conversation. Pine Valley Golf Club, often regarded as one of the world's top golf courses, was designed by George Arthur Crump. Crump, an amateur golfer and a successful hotelier, envisioned creating a course that would challenge the world's best golfers. He worked alongside architect Harry S. Colt and later Tom Simpson in the early stages of planning Pine Valley. However, the course was primarily designed by Crump himself, who poured his passion and vision into every aspect of its layout. Despite his limited experience in golf course architecture, Crump's dedication and creativity resulted in the creation of what many consider to be one of the greatest golf courses ever built.


So, who is the greatest designer?


Like ice cream, there are many flavors. You pick your favorite.

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