January 4, 2017

Somerset Hills Country Club

Bernardsville, N.J. / 6,756 yards, Par 71 / Points: 62.0134
Somerset Hills CC hole 2
Robert Walker

64. Somerset Hills Country Club

A.W. Tillinghast (1918)/William Gordon (R. 1946)/Hal Purdy (R. 1956, 1968)/Tom Doak (R. 2010, 2013)

Somerset Hills is another marvelous A.W. Tillinghast design, one of the few that has remained virtually unchanged since it opened in 1918. That may make it the most authentic Tillinghast course on the 100 Greatest. It's a charming, laid-back design that works through seemingly undisturbed rolling terrain, past rock outcroppings and around small-but-distinctive water hazards to some outrageous green contours guarded by knobby mounds dubbed dolomites. Like Baltusrol Upper, it has a rare Tillinghast version of a Redan par 3.

100 Greatest History: Ranked since 1985. Highest ranking: No. 41, 2003-2004. Previous ranking: No. 73


Panelist comments:
“This might be the site of the best 18 green complexes in America, in a company with NGLA, Pine Valley, and Merion in that regard. And three of them could make any list of the best in the U.S., in particular the Redan second, the eighth and the 18th.”

“No boring holes start to finish. The standard knock on Somerset Hills is that 18 is a weak finishing hole. But that's off base. It's one of Tilly's more ingenious short par 4s.”

“Interesting contrast of the front side and back side, with the first nine going out wide open, and the back side, for the most part, being heavily wooded. And recent tree removal has opened up even more of the topography that trees used to block.”

“Somerset Hills is a master class in how angles affect golf. The interest and the originality of the green contouring is what separates the club from other courses.”

“The running joke is that Tillinghast was drunk when he designed Somerset Hills. He just might've been because there is so much variety, particularly in the greens, going on with this design! Tilly's not known for having a certain design style in his courses, and in that way, Somerset Hills fits that bill very well, with all the variety here.”


Robert Walker

Hole No. 2

Courtesy of Somerset Hill CC

Hole No. 9

Courtesy of Somerset Hills CC

Hole No. 12

Robert Walker

Hole No. 17