One of several highly respected ‘Golden Age’ golf architects from Philadelphia, A.W. Tillinghast was a gifted designer responsible for some of the most cherished championship tests in America. An aggressive and unabashed self-promoter, ‘Tillie’ was especially busy during the heady days of the 1910s and 20s when he worked on storied layouts like Winged Foot (East & West), Baltusrol (Upper & Lower), San Francisco Golf Club, Ridgewood, Quaker Ridge, Baltimore Country Club (Five Farms East), Somerset Hills and the courses of Bethpage State Park in New York, including the mighty Black layout. He is also credited with suggesting the famous 7th and 13th holes at Pine Valley.
Tillinghast was a daring designer with a pioneering spirit, unafraid to push the envelope his putting contours were generally severe and often experimental. As a result Tillinghast courses rarely appear or feel the same, although most are memorable for their shapely bunkering and intricate green complexes. Had some of his better-known courses, such as Winged Foot and Baltusrol, not become so narrow and overgrown, Tillinghast would have appeared even higher in this ranking. Pleasingly, the likes of Somerset Hills and San Francisco Golf Club are true time capsules where the ‘Tillie’ magic remains lovingly preserved. A round on either is a special treat.