GRADE “A” ARCHITECTURE
Shackamaxon Country Club
18th Hole / 393 Yards / Par-4
Architect: A.W. Tillinghast (1916)
Scotch Plains, New Jersey
The “island green” is a much talked about feature in golf course design and many erroneously believe the famed 17th hole at TPC / Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, FL was the first of its kind. Far from it.
Early in his design career renowned architect A.W. Tillinghast created an 18-hole layout called Shackamaxon which features an island green surrounded by water.
The hole plays just under 400 yards and moves slightly to the left in the drive zone. A series of bunkers — both right and left — calls upon accuracy from the player. Strong players can attempt to fly the left hand bunkers but the margin of error is quite challenging for those opting on that aggressive line of attack.
The putting surface is not especially large — just over 5,000 square feet. Approaches must be play with pinpoint accuracy as water awaits on all sides. The most demanding of pin locations is anything in the frontal areas. Gauging yardage and any impact from whatever winds that blow can be a trying situation for golfers.
RDC Golf led by Chris Schiavone took over the club in 2011. Prior to the purchase the fate of the club was in doubt with various rumors afloat.
Shackamaxon is often lost in the shadows of other key Tillinghast designs in the Garden State with the likes of Baltusrol, Somerset Hills and Ridgewood, leading the way. However, the Scotch Plains layout provides a good mixture of different hole types. The par-5 1st — formerly the 10th — is especially good with a menacing stream to be cleared. As is the uphill par-4 7th – formerly the 16th hole — mandating a quality tee shot and no less a first rate approach shot.
The “new” 18th hole is like an honest judge — no bribes or shortcuts permitted. A closing hole that mandates careful attention and worthy execution in order to reap one’s reward.