Essex County Club is considered the first great Donald Ross design and perhaps his most intriguing. He wasn’t the original architect, but he served as its professional from 1909 to 1913 (until his design business became so lucrative he no longer needed the pro job) and lived on site, so he was able to tweak many holes. Ultimately, he returned to do a substantial remodeling in 1917. Unusual holes are the order of the day, from the flat opening nine with fuzzy chocolate drops covered in tall fescue grasses to the blind shots, both uphill and downhill, on the back nine. The par-3 11th, with its green resembling the deck of a sinking ship, and the downhill par-4 18th, shaped like an S around small hills, are special. The club insists its third green, created in 1893 and preserved by Ross in his remodel, is the oldest green in continuous existence in America.
100 Greatest: Ranked since 2017. Highest ranking: No. 73, 2019-'20. 2021-'22 ranking: No. 79.
Best in State: Ranked third, 2019-'20. Ranked fifth, 2011-'14, 2021-'22. Ranked sixth, 2015-'18. Ranked inside the top 10, 1987-'91, 2009. Ranked inside the top 15, 2001, 2005-'07.