Canoe Brook Country Club dates back to 1901, when its 18-hole North course was unveiled. The South course, designed by C.H. Alison followed in 1924.
Both layouts have been significantly altered down the years. Paul Rudovsky picks up the North course’s story:
“The club was founded in 1901, expanding from 9 to 18 holes shortly thereafter. It underwent a major revision in 1916 under the architectural direction of Walter Travis. Around 1950, the club completed a major land swap with Prudential Insurance that resulted in a relocation of seven North course holes, and the eventual building of the Short Hills Mall on the land that ended up in Prudential’s hands – the renovation was guided by Alfred Hull. In the 1960s and early 1970s, a major expansion of Route 24 resulted in a loss of land affecting both courses and Robert Trent Jones was brought in to oversee the changes – 20 years later his son Rees Jones oversaw a set of new changes.”.
New Jersey is blessed with a deep array of golf choices -- primarily on the private side and while I have always respected the qualities of the North Course at Canoe Brook I have always been bewildered when others have included the course among the top 10-15 layouts in the Garden State. The North is not an easy layout but the architectural qualities are often not especially noteworthy or certainly not of the high pedigree found with other courses in NJ.
The opening two holes are quite good -- a lengthy par-4 opener followed by a very good three-shot par-5 for all but the super longest. The rest of the nine is sufficient but never elicits raw emotions to elevate a golfer's interest. The inner half of holes is a bit better -- more consistent in its overall presentation. The closing trio of holes does make for a worthy conclusion. The par-4 16th is a first rate test -- the key being the tee shot's placement on the 431-yard hole. The 17th is a bit longer and no less of a test. The ending hole is a long par-5 of 600+ yards so without placement on the first two shots the probability of closing birdie can be hard to achieve.
The North and South Courses at Canoe Brook have been used on separate occasions for US Open sectional qualifying and given its 36-hole capabilities and easy location to access there's little doubt the course will do so again. However, New Jersey's standing in golf is considerable and for the North to be mentioned at the highest of levels the qualities of the design need to be much more engaging and worthy of sustained stimulation.
by M. James Ward