Just like the West course at Winged Foot Golf Club, the East is the work of A.W. Tillinghast and it’s another of his revered creations.
The East is perhaps a touch easier than its big and brutal brother the West, but make no bones about it, the East is no pushover. Once you’ve managed to hijack the mandatory member, you’ll be faced with tight, narrow fairways and a collection of strong par threes and the 6th is one of the toughest one-shotters you’re ever likely to come across. This 194-yard hole was nicknamed “Trouble” by Tillinghast because there’s an element of luck as well as plenty of skill required to hit the raised green with a long iron.
Writing in The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses, Tom Doak commented as follows: “Winged Foot East, on the other hand, is a bone of much greater contention. There are those who believe it’s better than the West course, because it has more variety of terrain (including a lake and a stream in play) and relies less on length and steep greens for its challenge; but I think it is sorely lacking for great holes such as the 10th or 18th (or even the 11th) on the West course. Its closest approach used to be the East 10th, a good shortish par-4 with the great elm by the clubhouse for a backdrop; but without The Tree, even it is just another hole.”
Just like its namesake at Wentworth in England, the East course has been used as a car park during major tournaments, but a 2014 restoration by Gil Hanse – described by commentators as among Hanse’s absolute best restoration work – will maybe prevent the turf at this delightful old layout from being subjected to the insults of oil leaks and tyre imprints in the future.
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A.W. Tillinghast’s father took him to St Andrews in 1896 and introduced him to Old Tom Morris. His golfing passion developed rapidly following lessons from the old master and four-time Open Champion.