45. Baltusrol Golf Club (Lower)
A. W. Tillinghast (1922)
Jack Nicklaus won two U.S. Opens on Lower Baltusrol, setting a tournament record each time. Phil Mickelson and Jimmy Walker won PGAs on it. But Baltusrol Lower’s most historic event was the ace by architect Robert Trent Jones in 1954 on the par-3 fourth, instantly squelching complaints of critical club members who felt Trent’s redesign made it too hard. Trent’s younger son, Rees, an avowed A.W. Tillinghast fan, lightly retouched the Lower’s design for the 2016 PGA Championship. But there has been another changing of the guard at Baltusrol, as architect Gil Hanse and his team took over as the club’s new consulting architects, and re-opened the restored Lower course—after carefully examining Tillie's old plans and reclaiming green size and rebuilding bunkers—in May 2021. The results will be part of our next 100 Greatest.
100 Greatest History: Ranked since 1966. Highest ranking: No. 15, 1985-86. Previous ranking: 41
Watch Golf Digest’s latest “Every Hole At” course videos below:
Panelist comments, Baltusrol Lower:
“It's amazing how Tillinghast was able to create an interesting and very challenging golf course on such a flat, relatively dull piece of terrain without anything appearing forced. The best part of the course to me are the greens, which are really subtle and in most cases, the entire green is cuppable. And the bunkers do a great job framing each green complex."
“Some of the recent tree work is helping open up old sight lines and playing angles. The view from behind the 10th green, in particular, is certainly inspiring -- and one that was previously blocked by trees.”
“Fantastic feel and spirit, and tremendous history. Walking through the clubhouse is like being in a golf museum.”
“Long, punishing rough will most always force a player to hit a perfect recovery to avoid losing a shot. Even the intermediate rough is difficult to negotiate.”
“It's a great Tillinghast but not his best. It just doesn't hold my interest level like a San Francisco GC or Somerset Hills. That being said, Gil Hanse and his team could change my opinion.”