Monday, May 04, 2009

North Shore New York

Ahhhh, A.W. Tillinghast again. Never one to be pigeon-holed he in 1917 built three courses - North Shore on long Island, Somerset Hills, the proverbial home course of the USGA Executives and Pleasantville, NY. This according to's resources although North Shore has some evidence I have yet to review that he may have built a course called Hermitage in Virginia that same year. I have only played North Shore and Somerset Hills of those potentially from that year. I can say that of all my Tillinghast experiences, these two certainly have the most distinctive, interesting and certainly quirky sets of greens.

Tillinghast was often sent out to consult by the USGA and suggested changes at many a course. If one didn't know better the thought of Raynor visiting North Shore might cross one's mind. Tillinghast certainly did template holes maybe not before but certainly after this . It's just some of his most "red-headed" work and it's just brilliant. Tom Doak has this one wrong in Confidential Guide and in his opinion he insists that the style is Banks, poo=pooing other evidence. It is very easy to suspect that, but given that SHCC is clearly Tillinghast and it is home to Tillie's best Redan, evidence is there. The Redan here shows his hand as well, differing only from SHCC by a more receptive back left portion of the green. has the course as an Original Design by AWT and Dr. Bill Quiren has it as a Tillinghast design in Courses of the MGA. Most importantly, the club has the info which I should get back to this summer.

Originally as with many classically designed courses, there were virtually no trees on the property and then the club succumbed to tree plantings as did virtually every club on the eastern seaboard. Now for the last eight years architect Ron Forse has been consulted to reduce the trees and re-build all bunkers. Only number 11 needs any noticeable work at this point.

Below are some photos with more write up to come as I must return for some further study, but these photos do pretty much have at least a thousand words each for now.

Don't forget to click to enlarge.

Crest of hill on gentle opener first. Green is massive and subtle, very hard to read and even harder to capture in a photograph.

Two green, a drive and pitch hole, modestly my pitch wound up at 18 inches and I didn't have to deal with contours relatively tame for North Shore. Second of a nice beginning.

Approach to three green, a different angle into a fantastic Road Hole complex. The angle is off anti-clockwise about 80* but none the less, a magnificent green complex. One of the best Road greens I have seen. It gives no quarter to Piping Rock just down the road.

The usually seen (In America) bunkers substituting for the Road.

A tame Road Bunker .... (isn't that an oxymoron?)

Three from behind

Par 5 fourth (back-to-back - Common with Tillie)green from Five tee

Par 3 Fifth, well over 200 yards across two little hillocks - Brilliant.

Six Tee, an astounding use of a sidehill

Further on

Driveable number Seven from the tee

Seven greensite from the right fairway perspective

Redan number nine (followed by back-to-back par 3 ten - no photo just yet)

Eleven tee - Hagen Drove over the hill on the right in the PGA held here. I for one would like to see that option restored. With today's technology, the hole becomes a bit of a "cart-before-the-horse" - now that's OK, but more options abound the other way. Protecting and hiding the shed is very important. Consulting architect Forse certainly must have some ideas.

Eleven from green showing magnificent land. Tee is approximately over the maintenance shed.

Very sharply uphill Twelfth

Lovely Thumbprint Thirteenth Green

Stupendous fourteenth approach

Modified Biarritz concept green with flower petals defining contours very well.

Sixteen from the very corner of the dogleg

Sixteen fairway contours

Sixteen from green backwards and seventeen tee

Modified Double Plateau concept green

Seventeen green from right showing severe contours. I believe there is remaining green pad for expansion of both plateaux.

This is the 95th anniversary for the club even though the course is not yet there. Originally a 9-hole course was built and Tillinghast only incorporated two or three holes into the routing. .

I shall be re-visiting and researching a bit more, but I wanted to get this first bit out to all of you. This magnificent club has added a large flock of new members and is attractively offering young Long Islanders an excellent entree package in several forms. In some settings elimination of the bond and dues are extended and a three year introduction is offered. A full thirty new families were added to the club last month alone. Even food minimums have been waived in some circumstances although I think it would be very easy to meet almost any food minimum with their kitchen and food staff.

They at North Shore have in addition to the golf course, full-services including a beach, tennis, swimming including a new pool pavilion, the always fantastic food, a magnificent set of classic buildings and of course this top-notch golf course. One can develop a world-class short game here given the architectural demands.

As I have learned current membership has been hit a bit by Mr. Madoff and his terrible shenanigans causing some members to take a leave of absence, but from what I can tell reviewing all articles including last weekend's WSJ piece, North Shore is doing better than reports would have you believe. Last year's membership was over two hundred but currently they number about 175, probably doing about as well as any club so hard hit by Madoff.

Look forward for updates.  Raynor it is!


Keith Angilly said...

Thanks for the post...I used to work for the GCS there, as his asst. GCS at the now defunct Woodbridge CC in CT. After seeing the pics, I really have to get out there.


steve said...

It's an original Raynor redesign of an Emmett. Tillinghast may have been involved later.

the redanman said...


followed your excellent research. Raynor it is.