By Dick Brown
George Low served as green superintendent and Golf Professional at Baltusrol from 1903 to 1925. To find out more about the man and his contribution to both Baltusrol and golf, Dick Brown took on the assignment and wrote a very thorough account that also parallels the early history of the game of golf in America from its crude beginnings in the 1890s to the early 1930s.
Dick spent long hours searching through archives, libraries and archival clipping services. What follows are some of the highlights from Dick’s work that we thought the membership would enjoy reading. Because of its length the complete story will be published as a PDF file and made available on our website. Other excerpts will appear in future issues of the Baltusrol News.
Golf grew rapidly during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Then, as now, the players owned the game. It was, however, the club professionals who facilitated and made the game’s growth happen. Most importantly, they taught the new enthusiasts how to play. They designed many new golf courses, an amazing number of which are still among the top rated a century later. They manufactured the golf clubs. Importantly, they arranged and played in the large numbers of exhibition matches that were of great interest to golfers and also presented the game to the public at large.
George Low and the Tillinghast Years (Part Two)
The BN continues its series of excerpts from the Dick Brown article on George Low. This section addresses Low during the years that A.W. Tillinghast was at Baltusrol developing the “Dual Courses,” today’s Lower and Upper, and the relationship between the Head Professional/club maker and the designer.
By Dick Brown
Low and the Dual Courses
By 1916, Baltusrol’s Board of Governors had concluded that the golf course was so crowded the Club would need to build an additional course or seriously reduce its membership. It decided that a new course should be built and founder Louis Keller began to accumulate land surrounding the Club’s property. In 1918, architect Donald Ross and others were brought in for advice. A. W. Tillinghast, while having already produced the then famous layout at Shawnee on the Delaware River in the Poconos and the absolute gem at Somerset Hills, but still a young and relatively inexperienced architect, was invited to make a proposal for a new design. It was fairly assumed that Baltusrol’s Old Course would remain, and a new one built, possibly on the other side of Baltusrol Mountain near the present quarry. However, Tillinghast proposed to build two completely new courses, both beginning and ending at the Clubhouse, and to abandon the Old Course, which at the time was highly regarded. Perhaps surprisingly, given the importance of the subject, Tillinghast’s proposal was accepted quickly and with little discussion in January 1919. The new project was called the Dual Courses, the proposed new courses were named the Lower and Upper, and construction began at once.
Only four holes of the Old Course were incorporated into the Dual Courses, all of which were completely re-built. The end result was that the Old Course, which had received so much acclaim and had hosted no fewer than five USGA national championships as well as many other high-profile tournaments and historic exhibition matches, was plowed under, less than 30 years after its first holes were built. The records do not tell us what Low’s private reactions were to the destruction of his best work ever.