In October of 1933, the Board of Governors instructed the Club Manager to begin a program of tweaking and improving the Upper. The timing and rationale for the changes is not well documented, although some of the changes were proposed to the Board and duly approved. Others were apparently made without approval. As an example, the 9th tee was moved from the right of the 8th green to the left of it, and the fairway accordingly rerouted; this major change was not mentioned in any of the documents I examined.
In October of 1934, the Board agreed to host the 1936 U.S. Open on the Upper Course. Subsequently, the USGA suggested that the Lower 18th be substituted for the Upper 18th, as they did not like a hump that obscured the green from the fairway. The Board resisted that suggestion and apparently decided to deal with the USGA’s issue with 18 Upper instead. At that time, Bobby Jones and Frances Ouimet were retained as consultants. How many trips Jones made to Baltusrol for that purpose is unknown. Newspaper accounts suggest the course designer, A.W. Tillinghast, was frequently on site. I have pored over many old records, most of them indecisive, but I now believe that Jones, probably in collaboration with both Ouimet and Tillinghast, sketched out the re-design of the 14th hole on the Upper. The main elements of the re-design were the building of the present tee with the 10th tee, and the re-location of the green from its original location in a low, swampy area to the right of its present location.
There were a number of other, less important matters dealt with and one concludes that the solutions to them were roughed out in the field and left to Tillinghast. Tillinghast undoubtedly designed the old fairway bunker on the left side of 14th Upper as well as the re-bunkering of various holes throughout the course. The 4th fairway was widened to its present width so that one could aim his tee shot left of the fairway cross-bunker. This must have been a hotly discussed issue, but we find in the records no mention of Jones’ participation in this matter. The relocation of the ninth fairway was completed prior to 1933 before Jones came on the scene, although he may have worked on the redesign of the green. It appears the golf course architects of those days acted easily and collegially among themselves, and that Jones had a wonderful relationship with them. Jones reportedly was a good friend of Tillinghast’s and sometimes visited him at his home in New Jersey when he came north.
Bobby Becomes a Member
The Board elected Bobby Jones to non-resident membership at Baltusrol at its May 1936 meeting. We don’t have any information relating to this membership or how it came about; there was no discussion of it in Board minutes. We don’t know how long Jones retained his membership or how much he used it. It would be pleasant to think that he stopped in from time to time for a social round or two, but we don’t know that he did.
When Baltusrol members think of Bobby Jones, they think of him mostly in terms of East Lake and Augusta, and also in terms of St Andrews and Merion, clubs where he won his greatest championships. I have come to the belief that Bobby Jones contributed much to Baltusrol and more than most are aware. He treated our members in 1917, 1918 and 1926 to brilliant golf and thrilling competition. He designed, or at least collaborated in the design of, one of our most highly regarded golf holes; and he honored us, at least for a while, by becoming a member of our Club.
I had a lot of help collecting information for this article. Nancy Stulack, Librarian at the USGA Museum, found some very useful material and mentored me in my use of the USGA’s Seagle Electronic Library. Sidney Matthew, author of a highly regarded biography of Bobby Jones, also led me to some good material. The librarians at the Newark and Mountainside Public Libraries were very helpful, as were Bob Trebus and Rick Wolffe, custodians of the Baltusrol archives.