139. Ridgewood Country Club (East/West)
A.W. Tillinghast (1929) / Gil Hanse (2016)
Ridgewood was always one of A.W. Tillinghast’s favorites. He lived nearby, was a club member and a close friend with the club's longtime pro, George Jacobus, who served as president of the PGA of America for seven years. (It was Jacobus who brought the 1935 Ryder Cup to Ridgewood.) The 27 holes that Tillinghast created were some of his most demanding. Not surprisingly, the course has long been a tournament venue, particularly in recent years, following extensive tree removal and bunker renovation by Gil Hanse. Ridgewood’s tournament 18 consists of holes from all three nines, but our survey ranks the East and West 9s, because the composite 18 isn’t routinely available for panelists. That means the club’s drivable par-4 sixth on its Center nine, the famed “Five and Dime” hole, isn’t evaluated by Golf Digest. Yet Ridgewood continues to be one of the top-ranked clubs in the nation. That tells you just how strong all the holes are at Ridgewood.
100 Greatest/Second 100 Greatest history: Ranked among 100 Greatest, 1989 through 1996. Ranked on America's Second 100: 2015-2016, 2019-2020. Highest ranking: 76th, 1989 through 1990. Previous: Not ranked.
Panelist comments, Ridgewood Country Club:
"The history of a course is so much fun to learn while playing. Stories of Tillinghast drawing sketches for his routing at Baltusrol while under the tulip tree on Ridgewood's 17th was amazing to hear about. That tulip tree not only makes the hole but it burnt into my memory of the West Course. Without that tree the finishing par 5 is not the same."
"Having played here quite a few times over the years, the course is in the best shape I've seen. The greens are so pure and the fairways are incredibly firm and fast, helping amplify the stellar architecture at Ridgewood. The tree removal program has no doubt helped make conditioning a stand-out at RCC."
"The tree removal project at Ridgewood should be the paradigm for how to properly improve a golf course. It was a course that you seemed to notice every tree on the property whereas now you are viewing bunkers, topography, and interesting greens."
"Majestic Clifford Wendehack clubhouse, which oozes classic style with the slate roof and the castle-like stature. The interplay with the clubhouse heightens the ambiance throughout the round."
"The best holes utilize the ridge that cuts through the center of the property creating interesting and strategic holes. Each hole has a distinct character requiring precise shotmaking."