A.W. Tillinghast was one of the most prominent golf course architects of the United States' Golden Age of golf course design. "Tilly" is credited for having worked on at least 265 golf courses. Some were his original, while he consulted on or upgraded many others.
Today, many of his designs are part of elite private facilities, particularly on the east coast. The 36 holes at Winged Foot near New York City, a popular U.S. Open host, are regarded by many as his finest work. But he designed plenty of other exclusive private clubs across the U.S. as well.
There are some notable Tillinghast golf courses open to the public, none better known than Bethpage Black, one of five 18-hole courses at the Long Island state park. Bethpage was built for the public golfer from the start, but many of his accessible designs are formerly private and have since gone public or semi-private. Many are actually now quite affordable, often a result of their walkability and smaller footprint (many just 6,200 yards or so). Some are located at resorts as well.
One of the latest Tillinghast courses to begin offering public access can be found in Ohio: Avalon Field Club, formerly Newcastle Country Club. Public green fees are $100 walking. It has received just one review in 2020 and it is very positive:
Terrific AW Tillinghast course that is no longer completely private and allows some public play. Course has a tremendous layout that takes full advantage of the rolling terrain and creek that runs through the property. The fifth hole has to be seen to believe. Course is well worth your time and effort to play.
In our database of more than 1 million reviews, we have over 1,800 reviews of Tillinghast-designed golf courses. These include designs he co-designed or have since been renovated or redesigned. Most reviews are of his public, semi-private and resort courses, though a fortunate few have reviewed such prestigious courses as Winged Foot and Philadelphia Cricket Club.
With the 2020 U.S. Open returning to Winged Foot West we thought we'd revisit which of his designs have fared best according to your reviews. If your favorite Tillinghast work isn't listed below, be sure to write a review here.
Editor's Note. One of the courses that was in this Top 10 when it was originally posted in 2016 has since closed, Grossingers Country Club. Virginia's Belmont Golf Course is also undergoing an extensive reconfiguration via recent investment by The First Tee.
Top 10 A.W. Tillinghast designs you can play (minimum 10 reviews), according our Golf Advisor community
Bethpage Black was our Golfers' Choice No. 1 course in 2018 and, despite its infamously difficult setup with thick rough, it typically delights every golfer whose game is beaten down by it.
Local Golf Advisor Toothsaw2 wrote:
The course dates back to 1895 and has design credit from both Tillinghast and Donald Ross, in addition to Spencer Oldham. It was also significantly updated in 2007. It was our second-highest-rated U.S. course based on our 2019 reviews.- skee93
In Florida's capital, this course from the 1930s was private for most of its history but now offers affordable online tee times to the public, making it one of the better public courses in this college city that is also home to Florida State University.- BrandonWebb, Local Golf Advisor
A.W. Tillinghast updated parts of the course in 1935 after an original layout from Tom Bendelow and Devereux Emmet in 1917.- Jason4515368, 2020 review
San Antonio, Texas
Tillinghast designed a handful of golf courses in San Antonio, including Oak Hills Country Club and Fort Sam Houston. Brackenridge Park, however, is the most played, as the centerpiece of the city's six-course muni system, the Alamo City Golf Trail. It was extensively updated in 2008. Reviewer pdicosm wrote:
The 27-hole course in the Poconos and on an island in the Delaware River stakes a claim as Tillinghast's first course design, having opened in 1910. Tillinghast built a par-3 course on the property as well.LuckyShank, New York Local Golf Advisor.
Many regular visitors of the 90-hole Bethpage State Park think the Red Course is as good as the Black and a little less severe. It's also a better bargain for non-residents.- Reviewer u6532684 (2019)
Top 50 Golf Advisor reviewer bradco rated the course five stars and said it's worth the drive from metro Philadelphia. On the design:REVIEWER BRADCO
Port Jervis, N.Y.
The scenic course dates back to 1915 and was fully private for much of its history. It recently went semi-private.- Golfguyswf, 2018 review
Fort Sam Houston
San Antonio, Texas
Joint Base Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio is responsible for one of the state's earliest golf courses when coffee cans were installed in 1900. Years later Tillinghast, who also designed Oak Hill and Brackenridge Park in San Antonio, laid out holes on the base. Today there are 36 holes and the Tillinghast holes are spread out on each, with the Salado Del Rio having more.
Civilians can play golf at Fort Sam. Learn more about the Ft. Sam Houston experience in this recent article by Mike Bailey.- joshsmith12, Top 250 Reviewer