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Baltusrol

The History of Baltusrol Golf Club

Designer: A. W. Tillinghast
Year Built: 1922
Classification: Private
Greens: Bent Grass
Fairways: Bent Grass
 
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The 1890's saw the quick and widespread popularity of the game of golf in America. One Louis Keller, publisher of the New York Social Register, decided to get in on the new rage. Keller owned 500 acres of land in Springfield Township. Some fifty years before, this same land was farmed by a Scottish immigrant by the name of Baltus Roll, who had been robbed and brutally murdered on a cold February night in 1831. On this farm, Keller had a sporty old-fashioned golf course constructed and a farm house converted into a clubhouse. On October 19, 1895, Keller announced the opening of his new club, which would carry the name of the former Scottish farmer, but in a slightly contracted form - Baltusrol Golf Club.

Baltusrol course map. Click to zoom-in
Course Map: Baltusrol Golf Club
(Click to zoom-in)

It did not take long for Baltusrol to flourish. By early 1898, with its beautiful lawns and a design reminiscent of Scottish courses, Baltusrol's membership leapt from an opening day tally of 30 to a membership of nearly 400.

With the turn of the century came national attention for Baltusrol. The club hosted the 1901 U.S. Women's Amateur, its first national tournament, which was won by Genevieve Hecker This championship was such a roaring success that it was followed by the 1903 U.S. Open and the Men's Amateur the next year.

After a fire destroyed the original clubhouse in 1909, the impressive English Tudor that stands today was built. With its new clubhouse, a further testimony to its overall grace, Baltusrol hosted the 1911 Women's Amateur, and became the first golf club to host a U.S. President, William Howard Taft in 1912. Three years later in 1915 four time U.S. Amateur Champion, Jerry Travers, was crowned U.S. Open champion at Baltusrol.

Take a hole-by-hole tour

Experience the drama with a hole-by-hole walking tour of Baltusrol's Lower Course, host of the 87th PGA Championship.

World War I would not stop Baltusrol's desire to lead the way. The club actively supported the Red Cross Society and participated in a series of fund raising exhibition matches known as the 1917 PGA War Relief Tournament. These matches were organized by the fledgling PGA of America, which had just been formed the year before.

The roaring twenties brought prosperity and growth to Baltusrol. The legendary A.W. Tillinghast, now known as the "Creator of Baltusrol," plowed over Baltusrol's Old Course and constructed two new "dual" courses - The Lower and Upper Courses. Sadly, Louis Keller, Baltusrol's founder and chief benefactor, died in 1922, shortly before the opening of Tillinghast's new courses. Recognizing the quality of the new courses, the National Amateur Tournament returned in 1926 marking the debut of Tillinghast's new creation.

Like most, Baltusrol suffered through the Great Depression. With unemployment climbing to a record 25%, the club membership declined precipitously. Miraculously, the club was able to remain solvent and host the 1936 U.S. Open on the Upper Course.

The recovery of golf in America was put on hold with the onset of World War II. Baltusrol did all it could to support the War effort and the troops. Victory gardens were established on the fairways of the Upper, and cattle and sheep grazed the fairways of the Lower. The proceeds were donated to the Red Cross to fund ambulances in the European Theatre. When the War came to a close, Baltusrol was back on center stage with the 1946 U.S. Amateur, the first to be staged since the tournament was suspended in 1941.

In the next decade, the birth of television ushered in golf's modern era, and Baltusrol would lead the way. In 1954, the club played host to another U.S. Open, the first to be nationally televised. Millions watched Ed Furgol pull his drive into the woods on the final hole, the eighteenth of the Lower. He escaped defeat by playing to the adjacent fairway of eighteen Upper, securing the victory.

Baltusrol continued to host golf's major shows. In 1961, the Women's U.S. Open witnessed an extraordinary performance by Mickey Wright, which reporter Herbert Warren Wind hailed as one of the best tee to green performances he had ever seen by a man or woman. In 1967, Jack Nicklaus emerged and shocked the world of golf by winning the U.S. Open, defeating the legendary Arnold Palmer in a classic final round. When the U.S. Open returned in 1980, Nicklaus, who the golf media had written off as over the hill, was again victorious, setting a new tournament scoring record along the way and letting golf fans everywhere know that "Jack was Back!" In 1985, the Women's open returned to Baltusrol and thirteen years to the date of Nicklaus's victory, Lee Janzen claimed the U.S. Open trophy in a classic duel against Payne Stewart. At the turn of the millennium, Baltusrol was honored to host the 100th playing of the U.S. Men's Amateur, which was won by Jeff Quinney.

As tremendous as the past has been for this splendid Golf Club, the future looks just as bright. The 87th PGA Championship comes to Baltusrol in August of 2005. This will be only the second playing of the PGA in New Jersey. With Baltusrol's history of hosting national championships and so many memorable tournaments over its more than 100 year history, Baltusrol's future will remain in golf's limelight.


 
 
 
Baltusrol Golf Club

Lower Course
Springfield, New Jersey
7,392 Yards / Par 70

Click hole numbers to navigate
12 34 56 78 9OUT
478379 503 194 423482 505380 212 3556
44 43 44 44 334
1011 1213 1415 1617 18IN
460 440 218424 430430 230650 5543836
44 34 44 35 536

 

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