Architect Profile: A.W. Tillinghast

Architect Profiles, Architects

Architect Profile: A.W. Tillinghast

Albert Warren Tillinghast, circa 1920. Courtesy of the USGA Archives


Albert Warren Tillinghast (aka Tillie) was born in 1876 in Philadelphia to a prosperous rubber-making family. He was a student of the game and a good player at a young age. In 1896, Tillinghast traveled to St. Andrews and spent time with Old Tom Morris. Between 1905 and 1912, he played in three U.S. Amateurs and one U.S. Open. Tillinghast was also one of the earliest successful golf writers, contributing to local newspapers as well as Golf Illustrated

Tillinghast was a member of the Philadelphia School of Architecture, a group of close friends who collaborated on golf course design during its early stages in America. The school included George Crump, William Flynn, William Fownes, George Thomas, Hugh Wilson, and Tillinghast.  Tillinghast finished his first course (Shawnee GC) in 1911 and had an incredible 10-year run from 1918 to 1928, which included Somerset Hills, San Francisco, Baltusrol, Winged Foot, Baltimore CC, and Ridgewood. Typically, Tillinghast courses place a premium on approach shots, as many of his courses have deep greenside bunkers and highly contoured greens. 

Tillinghast made a fortune designing and building golf courses but, like so many in the Roaring ‘20s, spent it all living the high life. He died in 1942 due to heart disease and other medical complications. Tillinghast was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2015, one of only six golf course architects to receive the Lifetime Achievement category award (Donald Ross in 1977, Robert Trent Jones in 1987, Alister Mackenzie in 2005, C.B. Macdonald in 2007, and Pete Dye in 2008 were the others).

Tillinghast and the members of “The Philadelphia School” had a huge impact on golf course design in the early 20th century.

Quick Facts

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A heat map of Tillinghast courses (by state) in the U.S.

In the heat map above, the size of the circle is determined by the number of Tillinghast courses in a particular state and the color of the circle is determined by the accessibility of those courses. The darker blue the circle, the more public courses there are in that particular state. New York (25) offers the most Tillinghast courses, followed by New Jersey (13), and Pennsylvania (4).

Roughly 25% of Tillinghast’s portfolio are public courses, which is actually a higher percentage than many famous golden age architects. Seth Raynor, for example, only has 13% public courses in his portfolio. To see public Tillinghast courses, the highest concentrations are in New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and New Jersey. Within a two hour drive of New York City, one could see six Tillinghast public courses, including Bethpage Black.

If you have access to private golf, the most concentrated regions of private Tillinghast courses are also in the New York City metro area. One could potentially see 27 Tillinghast courses, or over a third of his portfolio, in northern New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester County and southern Connecticut.

Further Reading

  • The Course Beautiful by A.W. Tillinghast
  • Gleanings from the Wayside by A.W. Tillinghast
  • A.W. Tillinghast: Creator of Golf Courses by Philip Young

Open Links Website

To find Tillinghast courses near you, register for free on our website. Go to the Architect filter and select A.W. Tillinghast. You can then add any additional filters to meet your preferences (e.g. accessibility, location, price).

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*ranked by Golf Magazine, Golf Digest, or Golfweek

**includes major team events like the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup

Cover photo by Patrick Koenig

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