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MCirba

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Re: New News: Tillinghast and Kingston Golf Club in 1902
« Reply #50 on: July 04, 2023, 11:29:12 AM »
Given the limited acreage, around 45 acres on rolling terrain, the routing of Twaalfskill is rather ingenious, including a shared fairway from opposite directions on the 5th and 9th holes.  Total yardage is just under 3,000 yards, although the 1st hole was reduced early on from 410 yards to 351 to accommodate tennis courts, which didn't last long at the time.


"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

MCirba

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Re: New News: Tillinghast and Kingston Golf Club in 1902
« Reply #51 on: September 26, 2023, 03:18:21 PM »
I'm going to throw on a Kevlar jacket before wading into this fray, but back in June of this year I had the opportunity to play Twaalfskill and was distinctly impressed with the degree of sophistication evident in both the routing and the shaping.   


I will admit that prior to my visit I was very skeptical and assumed the most obvious choice was Lawrence Van Etten, brother of founding member Justice John Van Etten, and later a member of Twaalfskill.   In fact, I wrote to Tom Buggy privately a few days prior to playing Twaalfskill, "Tom, I was able to learn that Lawrence Van Etten claimed in 1948 that he began playing golf in 1891 at the old St. Andrews course with the "Apple Tree Gang".  That would explain his proficiency very early on at Knollwood in 1895/96."


Nine days later, the day after playing Twaalfskill I wrote him back, as follows; "Tom, I was able to play Twaalfskill yesterday.   Although your pictures hinted at it, I was very surprised by the level of sophistication in the design in both the routing and the creative use of natural features and shaping that indicated to me someone who clearly knew what they were doing, particularly for a 1902 design.   Unless the course evolved over time much more than we are aware, there were very few people in the US at that time who had the knowledge to achieve that.   I have to say that I've seen drawings of Van Etten's earliest designs at Knollwood and Deal (and played both) and they were fairly primitive, especially by comparison.  If I were a betting man, I'd say Tilly was involved, if not at inception than possibly creating what he considered a new nine for the club in the teens or early 20s.   I'm still not ruling out 1902 either, as I have Tilly making regular trips to upstate NY and Lake Placid from the early 1900s."


So, was Twaalfskill the "Kingston Golf Club" Tilly claimed to have designed in his mid-1920s brochure?   I think it's likely.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2023, 03:31:00 PM by MCirba »
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

Tom Buggy

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Re: New News: Tillinghast and Kingston Golf Club in 1902
« Reply #52 on: September 26, 2023, 04:17:40 PM »
I'll don a Kevlar jacket and add some thoughts to Mike Ciirba's based on recent reading material about whether Tillinghast had template holes and, if so, which they might be. Whether they were templates or not, some of his hole designs did have names - Tiny Tim, Reef, Great Hazard, Double Dogleg. Having played Twaalfskill I offer the following. The second is a 125-yard severely uphill Par 3 that fits the Tiny Tim mold with strong bunkering on the left of the green and a steep drop-off on the right. The 237-yard Par 3 third fits the length aspect of a Reef, and although there's not a reef per se, the fairway does have a diagonal aspect. The 583-yard fifth has aspects of both a Double Dogleg and a Great Hazard, although the former is slight and the latter is a large area of rough that must be cleared or laid up to on the second shot. (The lengths of the 3rd and 5th are remarkable for a 1902 golf course.) Finally, The similarity between the 170-yard downhill Par 3 sixth and the Duel Hole seventh at San Francisco Golf Club is striking.
Before you get out your guns, lets me say that I realize that the named Tillinghast holes came to be well after 1902, and the similarities I mention do not stamp Twaalfskill as a Tillinghast course. But, there is intriguing food for thought.

Mike Worth

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Re: New News: Tillinghast and Kingston Golf Club in 1902
« Reply #53 on: September 26, 2023, 04:31:39 PM »
Mike: any thoughts to my observation that Twaalfskill drained exceptionally well and whether thereís any significance to that?


Youíll remember the Hudson Valley had been inundated with rain.  No names mentioned but Twaalfskill drained better than any of the courses played that day




« Last Edit: September 26, 2023, 05:01:04 PM by Mike Worth »

Bret Lawrence

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Re: New News: Tillinghast and Kingston Golf Club in 1902
« Reply #54 on: September 27, 2023, 12:25:02 AM »
Mike,


Those are some nice pictures.  The course does look very sophisticated for a 1902 design.  In fact, some of the holes remind me of Tillinghastís 9-hole Norfolk Country Club in Norfolk, CT.  (Built around 1926-1927). I think if Tillinghast was there it was much later than 1902, it looks like something from the teens or twenties, wouldnít you agree?  How many 1902 courses have you played that havenít been changed in 120 years? I have yet to play one.


If Tillinghast was using concepts, itís likely a design from later in his career. He didnít come up with his templates until after Macdonald right?  I think all the signs point to this course being evolved or rebuilt later.  If Tillinghast built the course (you photographed) in 1902, I would think he would have been busier from 1903-1912.  Something just doesnít add up to me. I am not trying to disprove anyone, I am just trying to use common sense to pinpoint when Tillinghast may have actually been there, if he was there. I hope you donít take it as live ammunition. I am curious of the answer as well, but I am not going to just accept speculation without questioning it. No need for kevlar, just an open mind :)


Bret


Phil Young

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Re: New News: Tillinghast and Kingston Golf Club in 1902
« Reply #55 on: September 27, 2023, 01:27:57 AM »
To make it simple...In Tilly's January, 1926 tri-fold advertisement, Tilly listed the "Kingston Golf Club in Kingston, New York" under "Nine Hole Courses" that he designed. The nine-hole course of the Twaalfskill Club in Kingston, New York, was originally designed in 1902 by "someone" hired by the Kingston Golf Club shortly before they disbanded as a club. Twaaflskill inherited both their members who wished to join and Kingston's financial responsibilities, which included the newly-leased property on which the newly-designed course was being built. This would now be used new site and golf course for the Twaalfskill club. Between that date, and January 1926, there was never another Kingston Golf Club organized. This means that Tilly must have designed the 1902 course.

Bret, Tilly regularly played courses throughout New York State all the way up to the Lake Placid area from the latter part of the 1890s through the first decade of the 20th century. He was well-known both as an exceptional player for his time and also as a person who both studied golf course architecture as well as put into practice both his original ideas and similar hole types used on other courses if he believed the land he was designing for was best suited for a hole of that type. As for coming up with his templates after Macdonald, one needs only look at the original Shawnee CC course to appreciate that isn't correct. The twisting of the fairways, the tees not being simple squares but of various shapes and sizes as well as parallel tees well apart from each other for the same hole along with other types of features that he would incorporate throughout his entire career; all were used at Shawnee. But he also used template holes and features at Shawnee that he brought back from his own 1895-1901 travels to the U.K. There was the famous "punchbowl" green, the "Alps" he created for the 13th hole, and one that he took tremendous pride in, were his use of "Mid-Surrey mounding" there as well.

The belief that Tilly could not have designed Kingston in 1902 is based more on the decades-long accepted belief that Shawnee was his first design. That is why it is difficult for most to accept that he had designed courses before Shawnee. Yet I have never seen a single reference that ever stated that Shawnee was the first course designed by Tilly while he was alive; not a single one. Tilly, though, on a number of occasions, was quoted in the early 1930's as saying that he began designing courses 30 years before which would have included Kingston in 1902.

As for his lack of designing other courses between 1903 & 1912, he redesigned Belfield in 1906 of which he was both a founding member and on the club's board from at least as early as 1905; also, Bedford Springs in 1910, and several others that I am still working on including one that is trying to convince me that he designed their course in 1909. The reason why he didn't design many courses between 1898 (when he designed and built the "rudimentary golf course" during the summer in Frankford Park), is a simple one. He was convinced that he was among the very best players in the U.S. and spent an incredible amount of time playing in as many tournaments as he could while still working for his father's rubber goods company. Also, he began writing for golf magazines and newspapers during these early years as well. It would be a combination of his playing successes and articles about golf courses that would lead to his being sought out to design courses.

Why do we know of so few during that time? There are of any number of reasons including the numerous clubhouses that burnt to the ground in the first several decades of the 20th century taking all of their historical and club information to the fire; that clubs simply didn't consider who designed their golf courses in those years to be of any real importance; or that a number of courses he did design are no longer in existence for financial reasons.   

MCirba

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Re: New News: Tillinghast and Kingston Golf Club in 1902
« Reply #56 on: September 27, 2023, 12:37:21 PM »
I used the word "likely" to indicate my belief that there is a greater than 50% chance that Tillinghast designed Twaalfskill, either in 1902 or a whole new design on the same ground sometime before the mid-1920s brochure.   I'd be also inclined to believe that it was the original 1902 design for the reasons I outlined.


But one thing that I'd like to contest is the idea that no one in the United States understood the concepts of great "template" holes until Macdonald completed NGLA that opened between 1910-1912.   Tillinghast certainly did, hanging with Old Tom back at the beginning of last century, and to Phil's point, he utilized some of the concepts at Shawnee that opened in 1910.   Travis certainly did, and wrote extensively about it.   Herbert Leeds did, as well, and made special trips to the courses abroad to study them.


What made NGLA novel was the idea of a course with all eighteen holes being "ideal" both in strategic concept (borrowing from abroad) as well as execution on the ground in the form of imitation of the design features of those templates CBM wanted to utilize.   
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

Phil Young

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Re: New News: Tillinghast and Kingston Golf Club in 1902
« Reply #57 on: September 27, 2023, 04:00:11 PM »
Mike, there is no mention that I've come across anywhere in which Tilly or anyone else says that he designed a course for Twaaflskill. This is important because it provides secondary proof that he had nothing to do with the construction of the 1902 course, which was done under the supervision of the Kingston/Twaaflskill club. This was common for many designs in that era and even continued throughout Tilly's entire design career for a number of his projects. It was especially for these commissions that he created plasticine models to aid them in building the holes he designed as he designed them.

Actually, that Tilly listed Kingston and not Twaaflskill in his 1926 brochure also provides secondary proof that he might not have even  known that Kingston closed their doors when they did and that Twaaflskill took over the building of the course he designed.




MCirba

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Re: New News: Tillinghast and Kingston Golf Club in 1902
« Reply #58 on: September 27, 2023, 08:13:29 PM »
Phil,


That's a good observation about the name as evidence for the time period.


One other bit is that in 1905 the course was said to be almost 3,000 yards.  A 1908 article about an 18 hole amateur record for the course mentions what looks to be 5,690 yards in a grainy copy.


Today's course tips are 2,967 with a few back tees that seem possible additions.
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

MCirba

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Re: New News: Tillinghast and Kingston Golf Club in 1902
« Reply #59 on: September 28, 2023, 09:21:18 AM »
It seems the course has stayed static since at least 1909 and very likely since inception.   As mentioned previously, the 1st hole was shortened later to create some tennis courts.




Yonkers Herald Stateman April 22nd, 1909





A scorecard from this year.   Note the different tees in an 18 hole round closely corresponding to historical yardages.   You can ignore the score, particularly on the awesome 5th hole.  ;)


"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

MCirba

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Re: New News: Tillinghast and Kingston Golf Club in 1902
« Reply #60 on: September 28, 2023, 09:24:09 AM »
Mike: any thoughts to my observation that Twaalfskill drained exceptionally well and whether thereís any significance to that?


Youíll remember the Hudson Valley had been inundated with rain.  No names mentioned but Twaalfskill drained better than any of the courses played that day


Mike Worth,


Not sure how much significance to apply but I would say it goes into our overall impression that whoever designed it certainly knew what they were doing, particularly given the early date.   Hope your Nebraska trip was awesome!
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

Bret Lawrence

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Re: New News: Tillinghast and Kingston Golf Club in 1902
« Reply #61 on: September 28, 2023, 09:35:39 AM »
Phil,


There is a ďsimpleĒ explanation for why people think Shawnee is Tillinghastís first design.  A former historianís speculation has led us to believe that.  This is the point I am trying to make about Kingston.  Speculating about one piece of circumstantial evidence leads to misinformation at times.  Future historians are at a disadvantage when former experts make claims that are based on secondary evidence.  The future historians canít just tell their story. They need to unravel the speculative misinformation built up in the past which is now treated like gospel.  You and Mike are considered experts in your field and your words have more weight than the average Joe.  If you tell us something speculative in public it may stick like glue and itís hard to undo.  This is a case of speculation coming around full circle.  The clubs website tells us this is the case, so why wouldnít we believe them?  They have been in touch with the experts, havenít they?


I personally think at this point we are reaching rabbit hole status.  Conclusions are being drawn from the smallest bit of information we can find.  Explanations for why this is the case are repeated over and over.  The explanations are verbose and running several paragraphs long.  Sometimes historians need to be patient and let the information find them.  Looking too hard for what you believe is clearly not producing the results we desire.  Tom Buggy will likely find the information when he begins research on another Dutchess County course.  Whatís the rush, why do we need an answer today?  On behalf of future historians, I am making a plea that this type of large scale public speculation is not getting us any closer to the truth.


Mike, My point about Tillinghast building models in 1902 would mean he did it before Macdonald, while we all know these guys were working on these concepts simultaneously.  I feel like sometimes the questions I ask get tossed aside and you two just want to tell me how it is. There really is no back and forth discussion here, itís just you and Phil preaching your speculation.  I understand we should be able to speculate on topics, but the level we have reached in this thread is just getting a little over the top to me. I thought I would bring that observation to your attention. I highly respect the research you, Tom and Phil do for golf courses, but we need to think about the integrity of the information we are providing.  Are we really doing the club any favors by telling them this information?  Are we doing future historians a favor by reaching this level of speculation?


Bret

MCirba

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Re: New News: Tillinghast and Kingston Golf Club in 1902
« Reply #62 on: September 28, 2023, 10:49:06 AM »
Bret,


I believe you know I have the greatest respect for your opinion and research, as well.   I came into this with similar acute skepticism based on the 1902 date before playing the course or doing any research on my own.   And nowhere do I say that Tillinghast designed Twaalfskill, but I do now believe it's likely (greater than 50% likelihood) he did based on the evidence.  However, to your point, none of that is conclusive proof without further documented sources and if I were the head of the Tillinghast Association (which I'm not) I'd file it under "unsolved mysteries" and simply state the facts we do now know to be true.   Among them;


  • The most compelling piece to me is Tilly listing "Kingston Golf Club" in Kingston, NY in the mid-1920s as a 9 hole course he designed.   There were no other 9 hole courses in Kingston, NY at that time and it seems far more unlikely for this to be some type of typo.
  • The golf course, or at least the yardage of the course and respective holes, is seemingly unchanged since inception.   That does leave the possibility that Tillinghast came in later and rebuilt the greens, added bunkering, etc., but there is no record of that and he does list it as a "new design" in his brochure.
  • The golf course, based on the opinions of those who have played there seems to have been designed by someone who knew what they were doing, which were in very short supply in America at that time.   Some see evidence of other Tilly "templates" but I hesitate to go there as we've had long debates here about whether a specific hole is a redan or not and it's unproductive.

I'd also add that in the past we've all been readily willing to accept attributions based on a single newspaper report and as evidence I'd find an advertising brochure from the architect himself as more than circumstantial by comparison.   I hope this helps clarify my opinion.   Thanks for challenging our thinking, as always.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2023, 10:51:10 AM by MCirba »
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: New News: Tillinghast and Kingston Golf Club in 1902
« Reply #63 on: September 30, 2023, 06:11:06 PM »
It was especially for these commissions that he created plasticine models to aid them in building the holes he designed as he designed them.

I know Simpson used plastic infidels for his greens, photos exist.  Also Colt had models.

 Anyone else?

Did Fully ever meet them?
Let's make GCA grate again!

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