A LIVING MUSEUM of golf architecture has been open for play for almost two decades in western New Jersey, less than 90 minutes from both the New York City and Philadelphia metropolitan areas, and it’s more than worth a visit.
In 2001, Dennis and Larry Turco, co-owners of Turco Golf Construction, partnered with course architect Stephen Kay and Ron Whitten, Golf Digest architectural editor, to create The Architects Golf Club, a par 71, 6,863-yard layout that recently became part of the Troon portfolio. While Kay and Whitten created the hole concepts, owners and course builders Larry and Dennis Turco executed and completed the work.
“These are not replica holes,” said General Manager Larry Turco, Jr. “They are based upon the design styles of architects from the past (specifically a period between 1885 and 1955 known as the “Golden Age”) with the benefits of modern agronomy technology.”
Old Tom Morris gets the honor on the first hole, a straightaway par 5, while other highlights include the A.W. Tillinghast-inspired dolomite mounds on the par-4 seventh hole; the diagonal green and flashy greenside bunkers on the par-5 13th hole that are classic Alister Mackenzie design elements; the Donald Ross-style ridge that separates the green into left and right sections on the 15th hole; and the 80-yard-long runway tees inspired by Robert Trent Jones Sr. on the closing hole.
“We looked at three elements of each architect’s work,” said Kay. “How did their golf holes play in a strategic type of way? How were their bunkers designed? And how did each designer contour his greens? That’s what we used to decide how we would represent an architect’s style.”
Plaques at each tee and text in the yardage book provide information on each designer. “It’s cool to be able to see the thought process behind each hole,” said Turco, Jr. “If you just go out there and don’t have that info, then it’s just another hole. You might see a cool rock formation or a pot bunker, but the yardage book explains why those are where they are.”
Various membership options are available at this daily-fee facility. A 16,000-square-foot clubhouse includes space for large social events, golf outings, and weddings. It’s also home to the Architects Bar & Grill, or “ABG,” which debuted last year in the former golf shop and offers a sports bar setting with multiple TVs and a menu of American cuisine (personal pizzas are a popular item) overseen by chef Bryan Tomko. The new golf shop is now in a building strategically located near the first tee.
“We’re a family owned club,” said Turco. “We got to a point where we felt like partnering with a company like Troon fit our longterm plans and allow us to take it to places where we probably could not get to on our own. We can now rely on Troon, with all of its resources, to help us take care of our asset and have it be one of the top courses to play in New Jersey. We’re very excited.”
The Architects Golf Club