Public Service Corporation of New Jersey was the unlikely patron of the current Mountain Ridge golf course. The original course was located on a very hilly—and quite unsatisfactory—piece of property in West Orange. The members wished to move the club to the current location in the early 20s, but could find no purchaser of their original property. Until, that is, PSNJ bought the original property for a power distribution facility, providing the capital for the members to purchase the current property in nearby West Caldwell.
That property provided a lovely canvas on which Donald Ross painted 18 lovely golf holes. The land slopes gently down to a flatter area where the majority (11) of the holes are located and the final holes of each nine climb the hill to the clubhouse. Ross’s two 9 hole loops allowed him to direct his holes in all different directions, with no consecutive pair running in the same direction. Ross’s undulating greens and open front greens are very much in evidence here. Ron Prichard’s restoration work has done a fine job of featuring the original design.
One controversial feature is the huge tree that sits at the corner of the dogleg on the uphill 18th. Players landing in the right side of the fairway may find their second shot blocked out completely. While some find this unfair, others take the position that this is just another obstacle to be avoided.
Behind the final green sits one of the most beautiful clubhouses in the game, the work of Clifford Wendehack, whose canon includes the clubhouses at Bethpage, Winged Foot and Ridgewood. My view is that Wendehack’s work here is his best. And while Mountain Ridge’s golf course is not quite in the same league as the foregoing three, it’s not far behind.
Date: June 16, 2017