Category - Major Events

‘Like You’re Walking Into a Cathedral’: New Jersey PGA Members on Why Baltusrol Golf Club is Special

By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
Published on

Located in Springfield, New Jersey, Baltusrol Golf Club is one of those storied names in American golf that conjures up images of legendary moments in the game.
Nicklaus setting a U.S. Open scoring record in 1967 — and then doing it again in the 1980 U.S Open. Phil Mickelson winning his first PGA Championship in 2005 with a memorable up-and-down. 
This week, the best women golfers in the world have descended upon the famous track for the 2023 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Can In Gee Chun defend her crown? Or will another name step up to claim victory?
Baltusrol means a lot to a lot of people in golf — especially local New Jersey PGA Professionals who know all about how special the place is.
“Once you step foot on property at Baltusrol, you feel small. You feel like you’re walking into a cathedral and that you’re on hallowed ground,” says John Mascari, the PGA Director of Golf at Alpine Country Club. “The history of golf in America has many ties to Baltusrol, and it never disappoints.”
With the history that Baltusrol holds in the annals of golf, it is akin to other sports venues in the New York metropolitan area. Consider the role that Yankee Stadium has played in the Bronx Bombers’ century of success. In fact, the players come and go, but the stadium is always there, daring you to do something incredible so you’ll be the one talked about for decades to come.
Baltusrol Golf Club has hosted 17 championships in its 128-year history — that’s more than one per decade, enough that every generation experiences its impact on the game, and more than enough to cement its place in the hearts and minds of golfers of all ages and abilities.
“Baltusrol is an iconic club and course, and I am so pleased the best professionals in the world are there this week,” says Scott Paris, the PGA Director of Golf and COO of nearby Plainfield Country Club. ”Once again, it will be an amazing championship test, and I expect the best ball strikers to stand out. Holes 3, 5, 15 and 18 should be critical.”
Whether it's the 439-yard par-4 third hole or the shorter par-4 fifth hole — which just so happens to have three fairway bunkers smack dab in the middle of the fairway — the best in the world will have challenges and hurdles at every turn. Avoiding the water left on 18 and a birdie could win it all.
Reed Lansinger, the PGA Director of Golf at Canoe Brook Country Club, worked at Baltusrol for five years under Doug Steffen, the New Jersey PGA Section’s Golf Professional of the Year in 2016. Needless to say, he knows “Balty” well.
“My time, experience, and relationships built at Baltusrol have shaped me as a man and as a PGA Professional. I’m still close by and look forward to volunteering at the event,” Lansinger says. “I’m excited to see the best golfers in the world tackle a course I played almost every day for five years. 
“Gil Hanse certainly has a way of enhancing some of the best courses in the world. This Tillinghast gem is no different, and I’m sure the ladies will love it.”
Lansinger added a funny story about another former assistant at Baltusrol.
“One funny story I have is not actually about my time at Baltusrol, but from another former assistant,” Lansinger remembers. “He was living on the property in 2005, the year Mickelson won the PGA Championship. On Friday afternoon, Tiger Woods hit his tee shot in the water on the famed No. 4 of the Lower Course. This assistant got up in the middle of the night, ran down to the pond on No. 4 and retrieved the “Nike Tiger” golf ball. 
“To my knowledge, that ball is still in his possession.”
Lansinger told me the name of this other pro, but for the sake of anonymity, we’ll keep it to ourselves. Still a cool story, though!
And it’s been a very cool week in northern New Jersey so far, with more to come this weekend. The eyes of the golf world will be on the glorious Baltusrol Golf Club, wondering and waiting what piece of unforgettable history will happen next.