Watchung Valley Golf Club can trace its golfing roots back to 1889 but the club has since moved location once and changed its name several times. However, the important point of note is that Seth Raynor routed the course in 1925, but sadly died before construction had started.
The members of the then-named Hydewood Country Club commissioned Plainfield’s professional, Marty O’Loughlin, to supervise the build. An extract from Watchung Valley’s club history follows:
“O’Loughlin was familiar with Raynor’s unique design style as his greatest professional victory came in the 1922 Met Open contested at Lido Golf Club on Long Island, a course designed by Raynor and C.B. Macdonald. Under O’Loughlin’s guidance, the first 9 holes (more or less today’s back 9) were constructed shortly after Raynor’s death in 1926 and opened on May 7, 1927.”
O’Loughlin also supervised the build of the second nine, which the Plainfield Courier reported in 1929 as being “the nearest thing to Baltusrol” with “many of the holes of the course are to be replicas of the more interesting holes of the world-famous courses.”
During the mid-1930s the club became Watchung Valley Country Club and later changed its name to Twin Brooks. In 2001 the course was lengthened and Tom Devane hired to renovate three holes. But the biggest change was yet to come.
By the summer of 2018 the club had finally settled on the moniker Watchung Valley Golf Club and had completed a four-year restoration project under the stewardship of Tom Doak’s former protégé George Waters.
George kindly commented as follows: “Watchung Valley Golf Club always had a great natural setting, wonderful routing, and a fantastic set of greens. Our work simply brought out the best in those attributes by restoring a consistent architectural style, opening up views and strategic options, and giving the course a more rugged aesthetic that fits the secluded valley setting. The course is so peaceful and quiet that it's hard to believe you're less than an hour's drive from Manhattan.”
The par 71 course, which stretches out a tad beyond 6,900 yards from the tips, features a number of template holes, including the Punchbowl par three 13th, one of only a few one-shotters in the entire MacRaynor catalog, and perhaps only the 8th at NGLA betters Watchung’s Bottle hole at No. 12.