Baltusrol (Lower) - New Jersey - USA

Baltusrol Golf Club,
201 Shunpike Road,
New Jersey (NJ) 07081,

  • +1 973 376 1900

Mr Baltus Roll once farmed this land in the 19th century but the Dutchman was bludgeoned to death by two thieves in search of his cash. After his untimely murder, the estate later found its way into the hands of Louis Keller, owner and publisher of the New York Social Register. Keller eventually decided to build a golf course and, in 1895, the Baltusrol Golf Club opened for play.

Today’s Baltusrol bears no resemblance to Keller’s original Old course layout, which was scrapped to make way for the two new courses. Both the Upper and Lower courses at Baltusrol were originally laid out by the legendary A. W. Tillinghast in the Roaring Twenties and the Lower was stiffened up ahead of major championships by Robert Trent Jones in 1952 and, some forty years later, by his son Rees. The Lower course is not as hilly as the Upper layout. The fairways of the Lower course undulate in a pleasant manner and they are generously wide. The greens are once more trickily contoured and very tough to read.

Millions watched the 1954 US Open on television in utter amazement as Ed Furgol won the title by playing two different courses during his final round. After a wayward tee shot, he played via the 18th fairway of the Upper course before putting out on the 18th green of the Lower to save par and eventually win the title by a single stroke. Uniquely, the US Open has been played seven times on three different Baltusrol courses, the Old, Upper and Lower courses. It’s unlikely that this amazing record will ever be beaten.

Golf Digest billed The Lower course ahead of the 1993 US Open, which was won by Lee Janzen, as “the longest yawn”, but Baltusrol’s Lower course is the epitome of what is required of US Open venue. Deep bunkers, thick rough, slippery greens and length are the ingredients required to test the world’s best pros. The Lower course has it all in spades.

Perhaps Tillinghast was the first architect to use bunkers in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Not only is the bunkering at Baltusrol artistic, but also plentiful. More than 120 bunkers are positioned precisely, some say the bunker placement is cruel. It will therefore be interesting to know how Rees Jones's latest bunker renovation programme stands the test of time.

Baltusrol announces Gil Hanse as course consultant

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Description: Baltusrol Golf Club takes its name from Mr Baltus Roll who once farmed this land in the 19th century before his untimely murder. Rating: 7 out of 10 Reviews: 12
papa rabbi
Everything about Baltusrol is impressive: the courses, the clubhouse, the rich history and its fine reputation; needless to say, I was extremely excited as I drove through the gates and up the drive to the drop off. Generally speaking, the chances of playing golf in the northeast before mid April are somewhat unpredictable and I fully expected bad news when I phoned the pro-shop to see if the courses were open; they had both been closed the day before. Thankfully, the frost was not too severe and after a few hours of delays, the courses opened for play at 1100.

It was somewhat of a relief to hear from the starter that I was playing the Lower. It is the championship course and includes some phenomenal holes. Of note the par 3 fourth and the par 5 seventeenth. The fourth requires a long iron to hit the green 190 yards away, every inch over water. Once on the green the battle is only half won, it is a huge and severely sloped green complex. The seventeenth is the longest par 5 in US Open Championship history measuring a whopping 650 yards from the tips (according to my caddy a mere 3 wood, 1 iron for John Daly!). Unusually the course finishes with back-to-back par 5s and they are the only par 5s on the course for the pros. Thankfully, for mere mortals the first and sixth holes are also played as short par 5s.

Regardless of the hype, I found the course quite bland. It is certainly challenging and is fully deserves its place on the roster for major championships. However, there are only a few holes I can recall in detail, only 2 days later, and for me at least that is a mark of monotony. The only holes that stand out in my mind are more memorable because I played particularly good shots on them. Of note, the sixteenth is a fabulous par 3: 230 yards from the tips, it requires some muscle to tame it! Anyway, the bottom line is that although it is a very good golf course I am somewhat surprised that the Lower holds such a high rank in top 100 golf lists. It seems to not live up to expectations.

The Upper however is a different matter altogether. Considered by many to be the second course at the club, I absolutely loved it. The ground it runs over is fantastic and unlike the Lower it requires more finesse than brute force. The first six holes are carved into the side of a hill which has a significant effect on every shot, especially the greens. Unfortunately, I only played the first and last six holes since the fading light was against us. I hope I get the chance to head back one day to play the full eighteen.
April 04, 2011
8 / 10
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Was lucky enough to play both courses last summer and the Lower certainly gets the upper hand on the Upper for me although the Lower just fails in my eyes to reach the highest tier alongside the Old Course and Pine Valley. It’s certainly an amazing piece of property but fee that the flat holes come up short in my mind. To score well here you need to full repertoire of shots and the greens are like glass and three putting is commonplace. I was very lucky to get a game here and I am very privileged… it’s a lovely course and a welcoming club.
October 15, 2006
8 / 10
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