Baltusrol Golf Club named a National Historic Landmark

Baltusrol Golf Club
Courtesy of Baltusrol Golf Club
"Baltusrol Golf Club comprises arguably the most important and influential design of leading early-20th-century golf course architect Albert W. Tillinghast," said Department of the Interior.
By John Holmes

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Friday, October 03, 2014 | 7:02 p.m.
Big news this week for the 2016 PGA Championship's host venue, Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey. The club has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
"Founded in 1895, Baltusrol Golf Club comprises arguably the most important and influential design of leading early-20th-century golf course architect Albert W. Tillinghast (1874-1942), one of the first American golf architects to integrate a golf course into nature," said the Department of the Interior announcement. "Baltsurol has hosted at least one major national championships in every decade of the 20th and 21st centuries, including five U.S. Opens, two U.S. Women's Opens, and one PGA Championship."
That 2005 PGA Championship, of course, was won by Phil Mickelson, who edged Steve Elkington and Thomas Bjorn by a shot in a Monday finish. The most memorable shot of that week, at least to me, was Mickelson's 50-foot flop shot out of the rough to two feet for a tap-in birdie on the final hole to seal his victory.
Balturol becomes only the fourth golf facility achieve National Historic Landmark status. The others are Pinehurst in North Carolina, Merion Golf Club near Philadelphia, and Oakmont Country Club outside of Pittsburgh.
Baltusrol was placed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places a little over a decade ago, according to The New York Times, which published a comprehensive story on the club's efforts to gain NHL status in 2013. The club later worked with the New Jersey State Historic Preservation Office to apply for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, which it achieved in 2005. 
"At that time, the National Park Service deemed Baltusrol to possess exceptional historical importance and significance on a national level for its two Tillinghast-designed courses, making it potentially eligible to become a National Historic Landmark," said Rick Wolffe, a member at Baltusrol and a club historian who has written books on Baltusrol and Tillinghast. 
Among the benefits of being on these lists is to be recognized for playing a significant role in the history of golf in the United States, Wolffe told the newspaper. But a more tangible benefit, he noted, is preserving and protecting Baltusrol for future generations. 
"The National Register and the National Historic Landmark designations provide various levels of protection from future outside development projects that could have a negative impact on the historic integrity of Baltusrol's two Tillinghast courses and its clubhouse," Wolffe said. 
Approximately 60 golf clubs, starting with Augusta National, are among the 88,000 properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places – a step below the National Historic Landmark status – according to the National Park Service. Sports sites, including golf courses, must undergo the same scrutiny as any other site, according to the newspaper. As many as 1,500 sites per year join the National Register of Historic Places, but no more than 25 per year are approved as National Historic Landmarks.