PGA Championship: 11 Superb Golf Courses Near Baltusrol

July 24, 2016

The New York metropolitan area is renowned for possessing arguably the greatest concentration of superb, classic courses anywhere in the world. Many of those courses lie in close proximity to Baltusrol Golf Club, in northern New Jersey. Some boast noteworthy tournament pedigrees of their own, while others shy away from the limelight. In any case, here are 11 great courses within 30 miles of Baltusrol.

Canoe Brook Country Club
Summit, NJ (Distance from Baltusrol: 3.2 mi)
This 115-year-old private club sports two championship courses in the spirit of Baltusrol, in that its North course is the muscular tournament layout, a la Balty Lower, while its South is the shorter charmer, full of variety, as with Baltusrol Upper. As at Baltusrol, Rees Jones refined both Canoe Brook courses in the 1990s. Shell Houston Open winner Jim Herman earned a 2016 U.S. Open spot by winning the Sectional Qualifier at Canoe Brook.

Essex County Country Club 
West Orange, NJ (Distance from Baltusrol: 8.4 mi)
A private club dating to 1887, where Thomas Edison was once a member, the current layout features some holes designed by A.W. Tillinghast, others by Seth Raynor/Charles Banks and a current renovation by Gil Hanse. The layout crackles with variety and ingeniously contoured greens. The all-carry par-3 11th and stern par-4 closer are two of the regions finest individual tests. 


Plainfield Country Club
Edison, NJ (Distance from Baltusrol: 10.4 mi) 
Despite its charm, intimacy and artfully crafted greens, big bashers have thrived at the Donald Ross-designed Plainfield, from Laura Davies, who won the 1987 U.S. Women’s Open here, to Dustin Johnson and Jason Day, who topped the field at the 2011 and 2015 Barclays tournaments. Gil Hanse has worked for more than a decade on restoring as many Ross features as possible.

Mountain Ridge Country Club
West Caldwell, NJ (Distance from Baltusrol: 13.8 mi) 
Fresh off a brilliant restoration of its 1931 Donald Ross course by Ron Prichard for the 2012 U.S. Senior Amateur, Mountain Ridge rolls out one of the greatest set of greens Ross ever concocted, among them at the 441-yard par-4 1st and the 229-yard par-3 4th.

Bayonne Golf Club
Bayonne, NJ (Distance from Baltusrol: 17.9 mi) 
Hewn from an abandoned industrial waste area adjacent to the Hudson River, Bayonne is a monumental triumph in engineering and imagination. Close to 7 million cubic yards of dirt were moved by developer-turned-architect Eric Bergstol and the results are a faux British links that astonishingly looks the part at times, notably at holes 12 and 13 that edge the water. Thick, wavy fescues, bunkers that look etched into the landscape, rather than imposed on it, and severely undulating greens help paint an intriguing, ambitious portrait.


Liberty National Golf Club
Jersey City, NJ (Distance from Baltusrol: 18.8 mi)
This frequent Barclays venue in the PGA Tour playoffs, where Adam Scott won most recently in 2013, is a Bob Cupp/Tom Kite design that sits across New York Harbor from Manhattan and enjoys unforgettable views, including a Statue of Liberty backdrop at the par-3 14th. Cupp and Kite fixed some of the goofier contours and narrower fairways with a post-2009 redesign. The course was then awarded the 2017 Presidents Cup. 

Somerset Hills Country Club
Bernardsville, NJ (Distance from Baltusrol: 21.5 mi) 
A wonderful routing on a tight piece of property near USGA headquarters showcases A.W. Tillinghast’s imagination, while his brilliant Redan-style par-3 second hole shows that he could adapt with the best of them. A recent restoration has opened up views by taking out trees and reviving firm and fast conditions along with reestablished bunkers and green edges.  

Hamilton Farm Golf Club (Highlands)
Gladstone, NJ (Distance from Baltusrol: 25.7 mi)
Though its sibling Hickory course steals some thunder as the nation’s top-ranked par-3 spread, the Michael Hurdzan/Dana Fry-designed championship layout is a boldly-bunkered stunner in its own right. Home to a fistful of LPGA Tour match-play events (Suzann Pettersen downed Cristie Kerr 1-up in the memorable 2011 final), Hamilton Farm twists gracefully through hardwoods over gently tumbling terrain, replete with old farm buildings. 

Trump National Golf Club Bedminster (New)
Bedminster, NJ (Distance from Baltusrol: 25.7 mi)
In contrast to its older sibling, this 2008 Tommy Fazio course exudes an Old World feel, with stylish bunkering, small, brilliantly contoured greens and tremendous variety with an ideal blend of open and wooded holes, many framed with fescues that make it resemble a British heathland layout. Jordan Spieth captured the 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur here. 

Trump National Bedminster Golf Club (Old)
Bedminster, NJ (Distance from Baltusrol: 25.7 mi) 
The venue for the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open and 2022 PGA Championship, this 2004 Tom Fazio creation unfolds over rolling horse country terrain in rural New Jersey, on land that once housed the automaker John DeLorean’s estate.  Its massive scale provides for a 7,560-yard layout, with huge bunkers, extra-large greens and plenty of risk/reward options.

Ridgewood Country Club 
Paramus, NJ (Distance from Baltusrol: 28.4 mi)
The classic argument at Ridgewood centers on which of the three A.W. Tillinghast-designed nines is best—the East, West or Center. Holes from each have been used at tournaments such as the 1935 Ryder Cup, the 1990 U.S. Senior Open, when Lee Trevino slipped by Jack Nicklaus, and the 2001 Senior PGA, when Tom Watson closed the deal. Vijay Singh, Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan have won Barclays PGA Tour events here.