Many golfers are aware that A. W. Tillinghast put an enduring stamp on Golf design in New Jersey with such courses as Baltusrol, Ridgewood, Shackamaxon and Somerset Hills. Less renowned but very much a Tillinghast design is The Suneagles Golf Course at Fort Monmouth. The course opened in 1926 as Suneagles on land owned by Max Phillips of The Phillips Van Heusen Clothing Company. The members bought it in the 1930s and renamed it Monmouth Country Club. Then the U.S. Army purchased the club in 1942 for $42,000.Play is limited to those connected withFort Monmouth, but the club records 40,000 to 50,000 rounds a year.

The Army restored the Suneagles name to the club, and now it plans restoration of the course. It is working with Fine Golf Design to return the course to conditions in keeping with Tillinghast's original design."We're not trying to get creative out here," stresses Mark Fine,president and owner of Fine Golf Design who is involved in a master plan for Cherry Hills Country Club, site of the 2005 U.S. Women's Open. "The intent is to bring back the design features that Tillinghast intended for the golf course. This is a gem. There's no reason to redesign a golf course when you have a really good golf course out there to start with."Work on the course will begin in October and take as long as three years, depending on when the Army approves expenditures, according to Chip Dayton, the golf operations manager and former superintendent at Suneagles.The first priority will be to correct persistent drainage problems,Notes John Chassard, superintendent at Lehigh Country Club, who works with Fine.Much of the restoration will involve the bunkers, which Fine calls "some of the most dramatic Tillinghast bunkering that I've seen." Bunkers which have been overtaken with grass will be restored with sand, And a few will be relocated to preserve the intent of a design created when the ball did not fly as far as it does today.

The green complexes at Suneagles are inconsistent because some of them were rebuilt in the 1990s. They will be returned to the Tillinghast style and those that have eroded in size will be expanded. Fairways will be widened, bringing some bunkers back into play, and some old trees will be removed."The trees won't be missed," says Dayton. "The course will be more playable. It'll be a lot more fun for the higher handicapper, but it¹ll be more interesting and challenging for the lower handicapper."Fine is a proponent of controlling trees and widening fairways. As trees grow, they "narrow the corridors of play," he points out, adding, "Width is an under-appreciated aspect of golf course architecture. Width creates options, and options create interest, and interest is one of the things that helps make a great golf course."Surrounding development over the years has limited any chance of Expanding the course, but that doesn't bother Dayton. "Length here is not priority," he says. There are four tee positions with the longest totaling 6,385yards. Tillinghast's original routing is largely intact. Interesting short 4pars abound, while the 166-yard 17th hole, now a peninsula green, was one of the first island greens.

The final quartet a long 5 par at 15, an excellent short 4 par at 16,The watery 17th and a short 5 par at 18 provides a memorable conclusion to The round. Suneagles may not be among the best known of Tillinghast's designs, but It has recorded some significant golf history. When the New Jersey Open took place there in 1935, a young golfer named Byron Nelson won it for his first professional victory. Runnerup in the 1967 All Army Tournament at Suneagles was Orville Moody, later a U.S. Open champion.

The planned renovation is "an opportunity to restore a lost Tillinghast design," says Elwood Williard, president and owner of The WilliardGroup, the contractor for the project. "Suneagles is an example of one of the great golf courses that have been lost in anonymity," Williard points out. "Working with Mark Fine, we have an opportunity to build a foundation with the restoration of this golf course that would set the tone for other classic golf courses to be restored in the future."

Tillinghast's Suneagles Set For Restoration

By Fred Behringer

Number 17 par 3 originally was an island green. Today it is penninsula green.

One of the more spectacular holes is the par 3 Number 14, a reversed Redan

Mark Fine's Rendering of the Restoration of

Suneagles Golf Course

Tillinghast's Original Drawing

Aerial View of Suneagles shortly

after its completion.

Grassed over bunkers between

#4 and #5 will be restored