Born in 1876, Albert Warren (A.W.) Tillinghast is the sixth golf course architect to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Other members include Donald Ross (1977), Robert Trent Jones (1987), Allister MacKenzie (2005), Charles Blair Macdonald (2007) and Pete Dye (2008). Similar to these prominent architects, Tillinghast’s brilliance and creativity is found in some of the greatest golf courses in the United States.
The Philadelphia native, who drew his inspiration from his time spent with Old Tom Morris in St Andrews, especially left his mark in the Northeast. In the New York metropolitan area alone, the man they called “Tilly” left his mark on a few modern day games, including Baltusrol Golf Club, Bethpage Black, Quaker Ridge, Scarsdale, Sleepy Hollow Country Club, Somerset and Winged Foot.
An original member of the PGA of America, Tillinghast laid out his first course in Shawnee-on-Delaware in 1909 at age 36.
During a career in which his fingerprints touched as many as 260 golf courses in the United States, A.W. Tillinghast has had his designs attached to 50 Major Championships held at 24 different venues.
Of those championships, many of them staged a PGA Championship. Locations and tournament winners of note include Medinah (Tiger Woods 2006), Baltusrol (Phil Mickelson 2005) and Winged Foot (Davis Love III 1997).
But it wasn’t just the PGA of America that chose to hold their annual championships at Tillinghast-designed courses. The United States Golf Association (USGA) hosted the U.S. Open 11 times at iconic Tillinghast locations including Bethpage State Park, Interlachen, Inverness and Colonial.
If Major Championships mean everything in golf, it is no wonder that Tillinghast had a truly Hall of Fame career.
“A round of golf should present 18 inspirations. Every hole must have individuality.”
Tillinghast was not only an accomplished golf course designer, but also a prolific writer. During a 40-year span, Tillinghast published more than 400 articles and contributed regularly to magazines including The American Golfer, Golf Illustrated, The Professional Golfer of America, Golf and Golfer’s Magazine.
Tillinghast started his journalistic career as a newspaper editor in Philadelphia covering golf and cricket. Many of his pieces were syndicated in various newspapers throughout the United States.
In 1915, Tillinghast published a successful book of golf humor titled, Cobble Valley Golf Yarns and Other Sketches. He followed with a sequel in 1925 entitled The Mutt… And Other Golf Yarns.
Additionally, he produced three volumes of collected articles. Over 100 of his essays on golf course architecture were compiled in The Course Beautiful.
In Reminiscences of The Links, Tillinghast provides first-hand accounts of American golf’s early history and its links to St Andrews, Scotland. In the third volume of essays, Gleanings from the Wayside, he recounts his experiences as he traveled around America designing and redesigning golf courses.
Tillinghast’s Brook Hollow Golf Course in Dallas, TX, built in 1921, is the first course to have complete fairway irrigation.