Donald Ross may have been more prolific and Alister MacKenzie better traveled, but for sheer consistency in design excellence among the Golden Age greats, A.W. Tillinghast takes a back seat to no one. "Tillie the Terror," as he was known, took golf lessons from Old Tom Morris and became not only a nationally ranked amateur player, but also served a stint as editor of one the top golf magazines in the U.S. Tillinghast is likely best known for his artistically sculpted, shrewdly placed bunkers like these on the 4th hole of Bethpage's Black Course. He is also known for his clever green contouring and for producing courses embraced by the United States Golf Association for its national championships. Here's a look at A.W. Tillinghast's Top 10 Courses.
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10. Baltimore Country Club (Five Farms East) Timionium, Md., 1926
Leo Diegel snapped Walter Hagen's PGA Championship winning streak at four when he triumphed here in 1928. More recently, Loren Roberts captured the Senior Players Championship in 2007 by skillfully handling the severely breaking greens and memorable par-5s such as the "Barn Hole" 6th and the endless 14th, with its "Hell's Half Acre" bunker complex.
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9. Ridgewood Country Club, Paramus, N.J., 1929:
The classic argument at Ridgewood centers on which of the three nines is best the East, West, or Center. Holes from each have been used at tournaments such as the 1935 Ryder Cup, the 1990 U.S. Senior Open (when Lee Trevino defeated Jack Nicklaus) and the 2001 Senior PGA when Tom Watson got it done. Best of the bunch might be the 291-yard 6th on the Center, which offers a half-dozen routes to the elevated green.
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8. Baltusrol Golf Club (Upper Course), Springfield, N.J., 1922:
If its brawnier sibling, the Lower Course, is considered the premier tournament track, this mountainside layout is much more fun; sloping greens and sidehill lies are part of the puzzle to be solved. Byron Nelson, Gene Sarazen and Tommy Armour were all in the field when the Upper hosted the 1936 U.S. Open, but little-known Tony Manero emerged the winner.
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7. Somerset Hills Golf Club, Bernardsville, N.J., 1918:
A wonderful routing on a tight piece of property not far from the United States Golf Association headquarters, Somerset Hills showcases Tillinghast's imagination. His brilliant Redan-style par-3 2nd hole proves that he could adapt with the best of them. And Tillinghast demanded that players do more than just hit the fairway and avoid the bunkers -- greens like the 5th (shown here) put a premium on good putting.
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6. Winged Foot Golf Club (East Course), Mamaroneck, N.Y., 1923:
Neither as long nor as tough as its illustrious sibling, the equally attractive East Course is preferred by many course connoisseurs for its superior pacing and variety. No stranger to big-time events, the East witnessed Roberto DeVicenzo claim the very first U.S. Senior Open here in 1980.
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5. Quaker Ridge Golf Club, Scarsdale, N.Y., 1926:
This quiet club across the street from Winged Foot counts Jack Nicklaus and Pete Dye as admirers. Its outstanding cluster of gently rolling par-4s, notably the 6th and the 11th, were a terrific canvas for amateurs in the 1997 Walker Cup match.
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4. Baltusrol Golf Club (Lower Course), Springfield, N.J., 1922
Having hosted both U.S. Opens and PGA Championships, this sturdy, leafy test is not for the faint of heart. Its 600-plus-yard par-5 17th was considered "untouchable" in two until the 1993 U.S. Open when John Daly blasted a 1-iron 303 yards to shatter that label. What the layout may lack in beauty it more than makes up for in toughness.
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3. Bethpage State Park (Black Course), Farmingdale, N.Y., 1935
Rees Jones may have put the bite back in the Black, but Tillinghast gets credit for the bones of the layout, the only public course on the Tillie Top 10. The rolling terrain, brutally long par-4s, gigantic bunkers and speedy greens proved a worthy, if exhausting, test when Tiger Woods (shown here on the 15th hole) edged Phil Mickelson for the 2002 U.S. Open title.
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2. San Francisco Golf Club, San Francisco, Calif., 1915
Tillie may have crafted his most gorgeous collection of bunkers at this low-key Bay Area hideaway that avoids publicity as steadfastly as its neighbor The Olympic Club embraces it. The highlight is the drop-shot par-3 7th, Tillie's favorite of all the holes he ever designed. Called the "Duel Hole," it was the site of the last legal duel in United States history, when State Supreme Court Justice David Terry shot and killed U.S. Senator David Broderick.
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1. Winged Foot Golf Club (West Course), Mamaroneck, N.Y., 1923
Given the edict to "build us a man-sized" course, Tillinghast did just that, creating a stern test for the ages with lengthy par-4s and frighteningly deep bunkers guarding imaginatively contoured, pear-shaped greens. Among its five U.S. Opens, Bobby Jones's miraculous downhill, 12-foot, left-to-right breaking putt in 1929 to earn a playoff stands out, although Fuzzy waving the white flag at Greg Norman in 1984 is a Hall of Fame moment as well. Geoff Ogilvy, left, got up-and-down to par the 18th on Sunday en route to his 2006 Open win.
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