Golf has been played over the grounds at Baltusrol for twelve decades, first on a rudimentary nine-hole course, then on the “Old Course” of 1895, and now on the Lower and Upper Courses, designed and built by A.W. Tillinghast between 1918 and 1922.
Baltusrol’s golfing grounds have been an evolving landscape. The courses have advanced to stay current with technological and player skill improvements in the game. The history of golf at Baltusrol is a reflection of the history of golf in America – like the gutty golf ball, hickory shafts and persimmon club heads of yesterday have advanced to today’s multi-piece balls, light weight graphite shafts, and highstrength composite metal heads.
The courses which opened in 1922 were the culmination of Tillinghast’s “Dual Courses” project, a bold initiative to build two courses side by side at the same time. Untried prior to Tillinghast’s proposal, the Dual Courses concept was an historic accomplishment in the world of golf course design at the time and made Tillinghast’s career.
In fact, his seminal work at Baltusrol is the subject of an application for National Historic Landmark status, currently pending with the National Park Service. Baltusrol is already listed on the State of New Jersey and Federal Registers of Historic Places.
While Tillinghast’s courses have been lengthened and strengthened for modern tournament play, the architect’s designs remain intact and have been carefully preserved over the years. For the more detailed architectural history of the courses, please refer to the articles entitled The Vision for the Dual Courses and The Rees Jones Era at Baltusrol.
Today, the Lower and Upper both are ranked in the Top 100 Courses in America by all three major golf publications, Golf Digest, Golfweek and Golf Magazine. They are known for a level of conditioning matched by few clubs.