The Life and Times ofA.W. Tillinghast A Photo Biography
Born Albert Warrento Benjamin and Levinia Tillinghast On May 7, 1876.
Albert grew up an only child in Germantown, Pennsylvania. His father owned a thriving rubber goods business in Philadelphia, and the family prospered. Both mother and father spoiled young Albert.
Young Albert (front & center) rides Jumbo the Elephant at the London Zoo on Family Holiday in the Summer of 1880.
Albert never graduated from any of the schools in which he was enrolled.
In his late teens Albert belonged to a cadre of wealthy, flashy and heavy drinking playboys. Playing cricket became his passion. The Philadelphia Cricket Club served as his base of operation.
Albert who liked to be called by his nickname “Tilly” met a beautiful teenage girl named Lillian Quigley.Circumstances necessitated their marriage in 1894.To them were born daughters Marion and Elsie.
The summer of 1896 found the Tillinghast family in St Andrews, Scotland.Tilly found a new passion… golf.
In St Andrews young Tillinghast met a man who would shape his career…Old Tom Morris.The Tillinghast family would return to the “Auld Grey” town over the next few summers, and Tilly would hone his golf game and take up golf photography. He took this photo of Old Tom standing in the doorway of his shop in the summer of 1898.
Tillinghast became a top flight amateur. In 1903 he played on the US Team in the first international matches against a team fromEngland, the Oxford-Cambridge Golfing Society.
In the winter of 1903, Tillinghast witnessed the “birth, of the term“Birdie.” It was at the Atlantic City Country Club where it was the habit of a few Philadelphia golfers to spend their winter weekends. It came to pass on the long 12th, when a screaminglong second shot found the green and Bill or Ab Smith remarked, “That’s a bird!”
Tillinghast’s best year of competitive golf may have been 1904.He won the Silver Cross, the medal for the 72 hole Philadelphia Open Championship.The Philadelphia Inquirer honored him as player of the year for winning all his matches in Philadelphia District competitions.
The year 1904 also brought his “darkest moment.” In the U.S. Amateur atBaltusrol, he lost his match to Chandler Egan, afterEgan got a lucky bounce off a tree. Years later he avenged the loss when chopped the tree down to make way for Baltusrol’s new courses.
In 1907, he captained the first U.S. team to travel outside the country to play a Canadian team at the Toronto Golf Club.
Tillinghast family’s friend CC Worthington owned the Buckwood Inn on Shawnee-on- Delaware. In 1907 talk began on building agolf course there, and Worthington hired Albert Warren Tillinghast to design and build the new course.The work commenced in the winter of 1909, and Tillinghast the golf architect was on his way to greatness.
On May 27th 1911 the Shawnee Country Club formally opened for play. In the following year, the club’s president, one A.W.Tillinghast, ran the first Shawnee Open, which would become the Eastern Open.
Tillinghast refined Shawnee over a number of years. At Shawnee and his other early courses, he built bunkers and mounds from the ground up. He called his mounds “alpinization.” The picture shows some under construction at Shawnee; Tilly is standing on the far right.
At the 1913 Shawnee Open, Tillinghast witnessed both Johnny McDermott’s (pictured far right) winning play and verbal slight at TedRay and Harry Vardon. The golf world publicly criticized McDermott forhis remarks and Tillinghast reported that this criticism drove McDermott into the insane asylum.
As his competitive golf career waned, Tillinghast pursued a career in golf architecture and writing. He covered golf in Philadelphia for The American Golfer under the pen name “Hazard,” and wrote articles for Country Club Life and Golf Illustrated. In the photo Tilly interviews Howard Perrin (l) and George Crump (r).
In January of 1913, George Crump gives Tillinghast permission to publish in hissyndicated weekly golf columnthe first word of Pine Valley Golf Club, which Crump was building.This photo of George Crump at Pine Valley was taken by Tilly, and is displayed in the clubhouse today.
By November of 1913, the first five holes of Pine Valley are opened for play. Tillinghast, along with George Crump, Howard Perrin, and Richard Mott arethe first to play these holes. This photo donated to Pine Valley by Tilly, shows him playing the second hole with his wife, Lillian.
At Pine Valley George Crump built several of Tillinghast’sconceptions in their entirety, the long 7th and 13th, which were evera source of great satisfaction to Tilly. The “great hazard” on the 7th would become a trademark on Tillinghast designed Par-5s.
By 1916, Tillinghast had established a practice in golf architecture. His course designswere scattered across the United States.They included Aronomink inPhiladelphia, BrackenridgePark in San Antonio, Davista in St. Petersburg, and Shackamaxon and Somerset Hills in New Jersey.
Tillinghast’s first book, Cobble Valley Golf Yarns And Other Sketches, is published in 1915.This book is a collection of short stories from a fictitious golf club called Cobble Valley.The characters and tales range from humorous to tragic.
Tillinghast’s second book The Mutt is a series of more Cobble Valley Golf Yarns.
Planning a Golf Course, Suggestions by A.W. Tillinghast is published in 1917. In this promotional pamphlet Tillinghast discusses his design philosophies for Modern Golf Architecture.Illustrative sketches of holes and featuresat various courses he designed including St. Davids, Galen Hall, Shawnee, Shackamaxon, and San Antonio. Around this time he moved his designpractice to New York where there wasmore design and construction work. He was awarded commissions at Essex County and Mountain Ridge.
Over a 30 year career as a professional golf writer,Tillinghast wrote hundreds of feature articles and opinion pieces. He wrote on all things golf...from the history ofthe game, to recent andhistoric championships for both men and women, to topics on golf architecture and green maintenance.
By 1918, Tillinghast’s design style changed markedly. He stopped the practice of building “alpinization” and replicas of famous holes from Great Britain.Rather he worked to build original new hole types – blending course features into the terrain to appear natural in every respect.
Tiny Tims Elbows Great Irregular Double Dog Oblique Lines Hazards Fairways Legs Immaculate Tillinghast’s design philosophy revolved around the Course Approaches Beautiful. He wrote, “produce something which will provide a true test of the game, and then consider every conceivable way to make it as beautiful as possible.” He developed his own original design features, which are commonly found on his courses. He incorporated natural features into greens, bunkers and hazards. He blended the slopes and had an aversion for straight lines and right angles.Contoured Greens
In November 1918, Louis Keller, Baltusrol’s founder, and the Baltusrol Board hired Tillinghast to design a second course to complement the existing one which had hosted 5 nationalchampionships. Instead Tilly recommended they plow over the Old Course to make room for two new “Dual Courses.” In the photo Keller is third from right.
The word on Baltusrol’s plans spreads quickly. In August 1919, Golf Illustrated declared “they are planning at Baltusrol on avaster scale than has ever been attempted in American golf for the opening of the Dual Courses.”
The notoriety Tillinghast gained from Baltusrol brought him more design commissions. Quaker Ridge San Francisco Brook Hollow Winged Foot Five Farms Newport Binghamton Lakewood Philadelphia Cricket Sunnehanna Ridgewood and many more.
The opening of the Dual Courses at Baltusrol in 1922 brought Tillinghast more acclaim.Golf Illustrated declared him tobe a “Creator of Golf Courses” and the “Dean of American Born Golf Architects.” The magazine runs a full page copy of a sketch by H. Hymer depicting Tillinghast at work in the field.
Over the years writing professionally about competitive golf, Tillinghast became convinced that his style of Modern GolfArchitecture was responsible forthe marked improvement of the American golfers as compared to their British peers. The photo is at the 1923 opening of one of Tillinghast’ sternest tests, the “Man Sized” 36-hole Winged Foot course. Club President C.C. Nobles is on the left.
After 10 years in the practice, Tillinghast became one of thetop-flight golf architects in the US. His courses were beginning to garner consideration for national championships.
By 1925, he had designed well over 50 courses and been involved with the redesign of more than twice that number.
The 1926 U.S. Amateur on Baltusrol’s Lower Course brought Tillinghast’s designs to the national spotlight. Tilly was now spinning himself as the “Creator of Baltusrol.”
Additional nationalchampionshipswould come to the new Tillinghast’s courses.
Tillinghast proudly promoted his achievements. Five championships in five successive years on his courses. In 1934, one-fourth of the coursesselected for the US Open qualifying rounds were designed by Tilly.
Tillinghast believed that Byron Nelson would not have reached his potential greatness without the two years he spent working for Head Professional George Jacobus honing his game on Ridgewood’s 27-hole course.The picture shows Byron Nelson at the 1936 Metropolitan Open at Quaker Ridge. Tilly is in the gallery, where he was often seen at major golf championships.
Tillinghast succeedsA.C. Gregson as the editor of Golf Illustrated in June of 1933.He would serve as Editor for over two years until the Magazine failed in 1935.Its last uncirculated issue was September 1935.
In late 1933, the Long Island Park Commission embarked on the largest golf project every conceived – 4 golf courses at Bethpage State Park.Tillinghast served as consulting course architect and designed the Black, Blue, and Red courses and redesigned the Green course.
In August of 1935, the PGA of America hired Tillinghast to tour thecountry as its official consulting golf course architect. Over the next twoyears Tillinghast surveyed and consulted to more than 500 courses across the United States. He traveled by car accompanied by his wife Lillianand reported on his work by letter to PGA President George Jacobus on a daily basis.
With the PGA tour winding down and architecture workscarce, Tillinghast and his wifeLillian decided to move west. They resettled in Beverly Hills, California and a year or solater started an antique shop with their friend Nedda Harrigan.
Tillinghast kept his hand in golf in California. He went into partnership with Billy Bell andwrote a monthly column for the Pacific Coast Golfer.After suffering a heart attack in May 1940, circumstances necessitated Tilly and Lillian move again. They took residence in the home of their daughter Marion in Toledo.
On May 19, 1942, Albert Warren Tillinghast passed away. PGA President George Jacobuspenned a fitting tribute which was published in the PGA Magazine the following month.
The Tillinghast Association is organized as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization under the internal revenue code of the United States. The Association is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the life and writings of A.W. Tillinghast.Source references for this slide show included The Course Beautiful, Reminiscences of the Links, Gleanings from the Wayside, and A.W. Tillinghast, Creator of Golf Courses. Copyright The Tillinghast Association www.tillinghast.net