A History of Suburban Golf Club



Suburban Golf Club, Inc. is a non-profit membership corporation of approximately 230 golf members. It has an 18-hole golf course designed by the famed architect A.W.Tillinghast, situated within the township of Union, Union County, New Jersey. It lies near the intersection of the Garden State Parkway, U.S. Route 22, and New Jersey Route 82 and is approximately 15 miles from Times Square, New York City. The elevation of the Club House is 80 feet above sea level. It is adjacent to the hummocks, a natural water basin and source for the Elizabeth River. Its entrance is on Morris Avenue, which historically is the main road from Elizabeth to Morristown.

The Club has adopted a monogram which depicts its two most important aspects; its age, having originated in 1896, and its location in the metropolitan area and particularly Northern New Jersey.  
The present course layout was designed in 1922. The fairways and greens are well trapped, and the Course is often described in local newspapers as "tree lined". Many stately indigenous trees surround the course including many types of oak, maple, elm and evergreens. Several flowering and ornamental trees are observed in the spring.

The 18 holes are 6,525 yards in length, with nines of 3,362 and 3,163 yards. Par is established at 71 with nines of 36 and 35. There are two par 5's and three par 3's. Ladies yardage is 6,123. The Club has, throughout the years, been host to all major State tournaments. The course record is 63, held by Ryan McCormick. Because of the many traps, trees and small greens, the course is described by commentators as a gentlemen's course but requiring a high degree of accuracy.

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On March 18, 1896, a group of men, residents of Elizabeth, met, associated themselves, and formed what was then known as the Suburban Club of Elizabeth, New Jersey. The Club was actually born on March 23, 1896, when a Certificate of Incorporation of the Suburban Club of Elizabeth, New Jersey, was filed with the Union County Clerk.

The formation of the Club had been discussed throughout the winter of 1896. The initial meeting was held at the office of the Elizabeth Water Company, 117 people attended. The hat was passed, subscriptions were obtained, and It was decided to obtain a site not less than three miles from the Union Station, Elizabeth, New Jersey. The group established an initiation fee of $10.00 and set the annual dues at $10.00.

The group of men elected: Dr. Alvin R. Eaton as the first President of the Club, James W. Hall, Jr., Secretary; Manton E. Parker, Treasurer; and T.F. McCormick was designated attorney for the Club.

It is widely reputed that Suburban ranks among the oldest golf clubs in the Country, within the oldest twenty and the third oldest in New Jersey. This reputation cannot be conclusively established because the records are incomplete. The records of the Metropolitan Golf Association and the library of the United States Golf association were of no assistance to the writer. Research reveals that very few, if any, clubs were formed in those early years as full fledged golf clubs as we know them today. Golf, as a formal 18 hole game, did not become popular until the teens and twenties. Suburban is no exception. While golf was an activity in the early years, it was not the principal activity. Claims to be the oldest, therefore, are subject to question, as it is often difficult to determine just when the predominant activity of the Club became golf.

The original Certificate of Incorporation says that the Club was formed by virtue of an Act of the Legislature to incorporate societies or clubs for intellectual and recreational purposes. The Club's founders were wise in choosing this act as a legal device under which to incorporate. They must have anticipated the thousands of intellectually stimulating discussions and debates in the Club House and on the Course. The friendly arguments, entertaining jokes, and personal anecdotes certainly have been more than enough to fill volumes of urban lore. Most of the world's problems have been the subject of great concern by our debaters and comedians have been the source of much relief from the tensions of everyday life. The word "golf" was not officially part of the name of the Club until new incorporation papers were filed in 1927. It is also noted that Suburban Clubs for Springfield, Westfield and other municipalities were also formed in the years 1896 and 1897.

In the beginning the Club did not own any real estate and it did not purchase any property until 1912. The original Club House, formally opened on April 18, 1896, and course, formally opened on July 11, 1896, were located at the intersection of what are now known as Colonial and Morris Avenues. The Club leased the land which was owned by the Love and Sayre families. The Club House was a converted resort called "Park Villa" (a road house), the property consisted of 16 acres at a rent of $400.00 per year with an option to buy at $16,000. It was arranged for a special stage to leave the Central Railroad in Elizabeth at 2:00 and 2:45 P.M. to take the members to the Club for 25 cents.

The Club was born in what was then a rural area of farms that surrounded Elizabeth. As a matter of fact, the present location of the course was once a dairy farm, apple orchard and nursery. At that time, Colonial Avenue was called Lum Lane. On Morris Turnpike (Morris Avenue), there was a stone bridge over the Elizabeth River (immediately west of the present Club entrance and a Club boundary line); old-timers can recall stopping at the bridge to water the horses, then continuing on to Union. Morris Avenue has its origin in the earliest of Colonial times being the main road from Elizabethtown to Morristown.

When pressed for further recollections, the old-timers recall that a certain tribe of Indians once inhabited the area. It is rumored that their lookout was stationed on top of the eighth green and their burial ground was located behind the sixth green; arrowheads and bones have been found in that big sixth trap.

Initially, official meetings of the Club were held at the old Hotel Clark on Broad Street, Elizabeth. The majority of the early members were Elizabethans. The first Club House was small and the entire Club consisted of two tennis courts, a club house, a gun-club field (trap-shooting range), a five-hole course, quarters for the Club Steward (which had annexed to it a stable for horses and a chicken coop for the Steward's chickens, ducks and geese).

Much soul searching by the Board of Governors was needed to dictate the future growth of the Club. It appears that the home activity at the Club in those early years was trapshooting (they called it gunning); matches were arranged with other clubs and they used live birds and turkeys as targets. The Club's first president, Dr. Alvin Eaton, was an avid shooter and did not appear to play golf. Most of the early expenses went to finance the shooting activities.

In these early times, the golf clubs were owned by the Club (seven sets) and were rented to the members on a daily basis.
The multitude of activities at the Club is highlighted by the first disciplinary action by the Board of Governors; two members, Louis Baetjer and a man by the name of Tober, secretly decided to have a dog fight, a strictly illegal activity. They said they were not going to have a public fight "just a little hold." It seems that the incensed Chairman of the House Committee called Baetjer a "damned little Dutchman", to this Baetjer relied on "language of the sauce sort". It wasn't the dog fight that caused Baetjer to be suspended, it was the saucy language, and to an officer no less. Baetjer, Tober, and Baetjer's brother Hemman were set down three months and about six years later, their memberships were revoked.

The condition of the course didn't fare too well in the beginning. There are reports of "thousands of stones in the fairways" and complaints of trees in the middle of the fairways, which couldn't be removed because the landlord would not permit it. Members became angry with the poor Steward because he was allowing his chickens, ducks and geese to run all over the course. The members kept complaining and finally the Governors decided to do something about it. First, they made a motion to make him move the chicken coop to the back of the team; they amended that motion to make him remove his chickens, ducks and geese from the premises. The motion canted, but for three months the Steward refused to remove the birds. In the fourth month, we still find the chickens, ducks, and geese wandering all over the course, so they fired him and discovered a $47.00 shortage in his account (which was probably f or chicken feed). The ancestors of these birds continue to haunt us every spring. The next time you are on the fifth hole, face the pump house, and if there is a light easterly breeze, you will hear them cackling away.

The committee report dated March 2, 1898, says, "The Golf Committee reports "MUD".
The first recommendation that the course be lengthened to nine links was made late in 1899. On February 26, 1900, the original club house, the Park Villa, burned down. The Club collected $1,250.00 in insurance proceeds. The Club was solvent for the first time. This event has been characterized as "the birth of the present Suburban Golf Club".

At first, the Governors were not able to lease Mr. Love's property because he wouldn't allow it to be used for golf on Sundays. So it was decided to rent Townley's land on Morris Avenue, move the gun club to it, and in that way the course could be enlarged. Love, the landlord, relented tenant's lease. The lease covered 60 acres at $42.00 per month and the Club gave Mr. Provoost a note for $500.00. Thus, the move was made from the corner of Moms Avenue and Colonial Avenue to the present site.

The Club moved from a road house to a farm house, got rid of the shooters, the tennis players, and bicycle riders and joined the early devotees of golf. The farm house later became the residence of the first pro. This was also the year the first telephone was installed at the Club House, the Club's two neighbors put up $300.00 to bring the phone lines to the area.

In 1902, the Union Township tax on Club property was $7.84. In the same year, the members were complaining that the Club House was so inaccessible in the new location that the Board permitted the Steward to reimburse a member one-half his cab fare, not to exceed $1.00. A Hunt Club was created and horses were much in the picture. One of the largest of the recurring expenses was feed bills for the horses. Horses were used by the Club to pull the mowers and roll out the course. The "Old Gray Mare" was offered for sale in 1905, but there were no takers; finally, on January 16,1906, a dark day in the Club's history, she was shot and carted away by a man from the glue factory.

In 1906, an attempt to merge the Club with the Elizabeth Town and Country Club was successfully defeated. This came right after all the trouble with the water closets, which were not functioning properly, especially the outside one near the stream. The Board refused to pay the plumber's bill after he failed to correct the situation, so they tore it down and built a new one closer to the barn and away from the site of the old chicken coop.  

The original membership was about 180 and of this number, 60 were women, thus, one-third of the membership was female. The women took an active part in the Club and exercised influence over the Board of Governors. They decorated the Club House; worked on dinners and picnics, they also helped pick apples from the orchard, which were sold to the public. Throughout the Club's records we find constant attempts by the male members to assert superiority over the women. As a matter of fact, one of the first stories ever told at the Club is the story of two fellows on the course one Sunday; one said to the other, "Do you hear those church bells? The way I'm playing golf, I know I should have gone to church this morning, too, if my wife wasn't so sick."


Between the years 1900 and 1910, the exact date is not known, the Club developed its new site. The Club House was built facing Colonial Avenue near the present Greenskeeper's house and a nine-hole course is hardly recognizable from our present design. The first hole was our present 17th; the second hole was our present 12th; the third hole was a par three, which ran from the rough on our present 15th at a point near Colonial Avenue to the bend in the middle of our present 14th; the fourth hole ran from the middle of our present 14th to the present 15th green; the fifth hole was somewhat similar to our present 5th green except that the green was just over a ditch; the sixth hole ran into the woods in the back of our present pump house; the seventh hole ran from these woods toward the present second green, the eighth ran from the old trees at the left of the 18th fairway to the third green; and the ninth was somewhat similar to the present 16th green. The Club joined the New Jersey Golf Association in 1911.

In 1910, John W. Whelan, a prominent early member of the Club, and Dr. Quinn traveled to Montreal and engaged the Club's first pro, Will Gourlay. Will Gourlay was very popular with the membership and stayed on as pro for twenty‑seven years. Gourlay, a Scotsman, learned the game at St. Andrews. He served at Suburban as Pro, Greenskeeper, frequent Barkeeper, and often without pay. His wife made and sold sandwiches to the members for five cents and many members remember her delicious pies. Will Gourlay's brother, Andy, served as Caddie Master and Lockerman, and his Uncle Tom was the pro at Baltusrol. The little red shed recently demolished to the right of the 4th green was his Pro Shop. Surprisingly, this Pro Shop had electricity before the Club House, where kerosene lamps were used. The Club House was a real makeshift affair with the men's locker room being a renovated stable. The kitchen where Mrs. Gourlay slaved was, in fact, a lean-to with a wood-burning stove. The outhouse was located alongside the Pro Shop. It had sentimental attachment to the members and was only recently torn down. These were the good old days, when caddie fees were fifteen cents for nine holes and "sports" gave a twenty-five cent tip.
In the teens, the Club progressed. Bathing was transferred from the Club to a modern shower bath. Dues were $40.00 per year and the Club's indebtedness was nil.

In 1912, sixty-four acres of land were purchased from Abner Love; in 1919, twenty-six acres were purchased from May Sayre; and twenty-five acres were purchased from the Sayre Estate. The property on the other side of Colonial Avenue was not actually purchased from Walter Condict until 1925. The seeds were sown for a new Club House and an 18-hole golf course after the purchase of the Sayre property. Under the tutelage of John W. Whelan and Judge Robert McAdams, A.W. Tillinghast was engaged to design the course and a man by the name of Griffith was engaged to build the present Club House at a cost of $100,000. The funds were obtained by borrowing on first and second mortgages. This indebtedness continued until all mortgages were satisfied in 1969.


The year 1922, a golden year, saw the dedication of the new and present Club House and the full 18-hole golf course. The Club boasted of having its own station on the Morris County Traction Company lines. This trolley car line ran from Elizabeth to Morristown and the tracks were laid in the depression to the right of the seventh tee and behind the sixth green.

Also, 1922 marked the beginning of the Club championships. Henry Loud Compton, the first champ, reigned briefly and was supplanted by the long reign of Marty Issler. That bench on the first tee is dedicated to Henry Loud Compton. We don't know why they put the bench at the first tee, no one ever sits on it; the better place would be at the top of the eighth hill.

By popular usage, the Suburban Club was called Suburban Golf Club. In 1927, the name was officially changed to Suburban Golf. In the new Certificate of Incorporation filed March 9, 1927, the word "intellectually" was dropped and the incorporators referred solely to golf and social activities. The incorporators were Robert McAdams, Charles Doctor, William Sefton, Russell Adams, DeWitt Jones, Randolph Harrison, Richard Potts, Julian Kean, Charles Haupt, Sigurd Emerson, Myron Buchanan, F.A. Dickinson, A.R. Kniffin and A. MacKechnie, Jr.

Much discussion was had in 1927 concerning a proposal to sell the Club property east of Colonial Avenue and to purchase some thirty-four acres of land, which lay West of Colonial Avenue and adjacent to the 11th and 12th holes, from the Potter family. The plan was to eliminate the present 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th holes and to rebuild them on the West side of Colonial Avenue. Despite the rising economic condition of the country at that time, the Board did not accept a proposal at $122,000. and rejected it as being financially imprudent. Instead, the Board allowed the first alteration in the Club House which cost $2,300.00. Judge Robert McAdams, the reigning Club president lead the Club during these golden years. An annual tournament is held in his honor.

The depression years were perhaps the most difficult and trying in the Club's history. The Club was almost lost because of the drain of municipal taxes and the inability of the members to provide financial support. Members did work on the course, picking weeds, working on the sand traps, decorating the Club House. All sorts of devices were used and affairs were given to raise money, to increase membership and to otherwise raise income.

What may be considered as extreme measures by today's standards were taken by the Board. Members whose dues were not paid by the 25th of the month were not permitted to play golf. New York and local hotels were invited to extend guest privileges to their patrons upon payment of "ground fees". Members were given courtesy cards to be used by their friends. During these years, the records are replete with instances of delinquencies in dues. It was a continual struggle for the Board to meet mortgage and municipal tax payments. Members were permitted to draw for house charges against their membership certificates. All Club employees were required to reduce their incomes and the caddies were required to contribute $.10 per bag which was ordinarily paid to the Caddie Master.

In 1934, the membership had dwindled to 137. The membership dues were reduced from $150 to $100 per year in an attempt to retain members. It is impossible to single out the many personal contributions to the Club by the members during these difficult years. Many members contributed, performed physical work at the Club and on the course, provided financial aid, and this spirit of cooperation and self-help served as a focal point in the efforts to save the Club. The slot machines did a roaring business until the prosecutor found out about them. These years were the most difficult for the Club. Very little progress or development was made in the physical properties of the Club.

As the impact of the depression decreased in the late 30's, the Club began to revive and take on added financial responsibilities. During January 1938, the Club appointed its second Pro, Jim Dante. Jim, the author of "The Nine Bad Shots of Golf", which is still widely read throughout the country, came to the Club from Braidburn. Like his predecessor, Dante came from a golfing family and came up through the caddie ranks.

During the winter of 1938-39, the Snowbirds' Annual Winter Tournament was inaugurated. This Tournament has become the most popular at the Club. Participation by the members has been excellent and the competition spirited. The affair has been a means of seeing the members through the winter doldrums despite playing on temporary greens and tees, through snow, ice, mud and blustery cold. During these years, the various tournament schedule helped lay the foundation for the schedule used today.

The late 30's may be classified as the transition years. As the Club recovered from the affects of the depression upon its financial condition, it was able to begin to make the capital improvements, the absence of which had stymied its growth for about ten years. In March of 1937, the Club hired its first professional greenskeeper, Frank Swelha, and renovated the house on Colonial Avenue for his use as a residence. During the next year, the putting green was opened. The science of agronomy was introduced to the Club and effective measures were introduced to improve the quality of the greens and tees. Through the cooperation of Rutgers University, modern solid analysis and chemical treatment were introduced to the greens committee.

In June of 1940, the bench at the first tee was donated by John W. Kirkbride in memory of the Club's first champion, Henry Loud Compton. During the same year, Frank Hopping donated the 75 foot wooden flag pole which he specially brought from the West Coast.

During World War II, many of the members were in service while others engaged in patriotic activities. Parts of the Hail America Tournament were held at the Club. War Bonds were given as prizes for this tournament. Marty Wallach, our former professional, played in this Tournament prior to his employment by the Club. He shot six straight 73's in the first of these Tournaments.

Marty was engaged by the Club as a professional in March, 1943, after the retirement of Jim Dante. He had been an assistant at Twin Brooks Country Club and at Plainfield Country Club. His success as winner in the North and South Carolina Tournament, being in the money in the Eastern Open and the North Jersey Open twice, preceded his engagement by the Club. Your author had the privilege of serving as his caddie in State tournaments and learning about the game as Wallach Day, an annual event of the tournament schedule, is a popular event. Through all of its 75 years, the Club has had but three professionals and Marty Wallach is an example of the excellent relations that the Club has had in this department. During the 1950's, due to the illness of Frank Swelha, he took over the added job of greenskeeper and served in this dual capacity until 1960.
The stewardship of the Club dining facilities and house operations was developed by John Connors and later by Fritz Speldrick. The 40's saw the inauguration of the beef steak dinners, the New Year's Eve parties, Costume Balls, and other events managed by professional stewards.

In 1943, the first of a continuous series of sojourns by the members in the early spring to Pinehurst was begun, ostensibly to "get a jump on the season", and in the early fall to Hot Springs, again ostensibly "to top off a good season". The ease of travel after the war years permitted the members to extend the season of play by journey to the South to play golf at many winter resorts. It has become tradition for members of the Club to play together at the various southern resorts.


The club sold a parcel of land, some 41/2 acres, located on Morris Avenue, to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark. This land, and a small section sold in 1964, is presently occupied by the Holy Spirit Parish and School.

In the early 1950's, the seventh hole and the ninth hole were exchanged for each other. This was done to obviate the long walk across the parking lot from the then 9th green to the 10th tee.

The year of 1954 saw the discussion of the first major improvements to the Club House structure since 1920. It was proposed to enlarge the original grill room and the overhead dining room. The original grill room was small in size and is generally the area now occupied by the card playing area of the presentgrill room. It was proposed to enlarge both these rooms by extending the building to the present outside dimensions at a cost of $45,000.

During the completion of these renovations and improvements, on February 4, 1955, perhaps the most exciting event in recent Club history occurred. FIRE! The grill room, dining room, kitchen and second story were extensively damaged. While the fire caused considerable inconvenience to the membership, the result was a more extensive improvement and renovation than what had been planned. Except for the cocktail lounge, enclosed over what had been a patio on top of the men's locker room in 1961, this fire brought about the only exterior increase in the Club House size since it was originally built.

On April 4, 1956 an offer to purchase the Club property was rejected by the Board of Governors. This was the first of a series of attempts to purchase theClub property by developers. These attempts reflect the complete change in the area surrounding the Club from farm to city life.

It was during the month of April that an airplane landed on the fairway. The plane apparently ran out of gas. There were no injuries and the plane was subsequently towed away.

In October of 1956, plans were formulated and during the years of 1956, 1957, and 1958 major improvements were made by Marty Wallach as greenskeeper. They included in 1956 to rebuild and elevate the 9th green and the 1st tee; in 1957, revamp the 7th and 18th greens. In March of 1958, the Club purchased additional land and a new 13th tee was built on the new land. The construction of the watering system was begun in 1958 by the drilling of the well located at the pump house alongside the 5th fairway. The well, over 500 feet deep, was drilled with approval of the State Water Policy and Supply Council, Department of Economics and Conservation, upon the grant of permission to use 100,000 gallons of water in any 24 hour period. The watering system was installed at a cost of some $65,000. Well water may be used to water the course except for the three holes on the other side of Colonial Av enue, where public utility water is used. Later, in April of 1960 the State granted an increase in well water use to 200,000 gallons per day at a rate of 250 gallons per minute between June 15th and September 15th and the old rate to continue for the balance of the year.

In December 1958, due to an unfortunate accident involving an injury to a member playing the 17th hole by a ball hit by another member from the 12th tee, the large fence was erected around the 17th green for safety purpose.

The poor location of the old Pro Shop became apparent to the membership in 1958. This shop, built along with the original Club House in 1920, was obsolete. The shop was small and adequate to hold the member's clubs and serve as a working Pro Shop. A make-shift Pro Shop display area had been set up in the men's locker room alongside the entrance door to permit the Pro to display and sell equipment. To alleviate these conditions, the present Pro Shop was erected in the Spring of 1959 along the path leading to the 10th tee. The new shop with the improvements made in 1968 also serves as a snack bar. The old Pro Shop was converted into a storage shed for golf carts. The first golf carts were put into use in 1959 by private owner members.

In March of 1959 another offer to purchase the Club property was rejected.

Peter Pedzazzi was appointed greenskeeper in the Summer of 1960. Pete took the reins from Marty Wallach and occupied the house overlooking the 16th hole. His service as greenskeeper saw the increase in greens committee expenditures to develop the quality of the course grasses and to launch an attack upon the weed problem.

The Club continued to receive offers to purchase the Club property in 1960 and 1961, and finally in 1962, the Club received an offer to swap the Club property for Shackamaxon Golf Club plus $1,000,000. This offer was carefully studied by the Board of Governors and was submitted to the members in the form of a motion to spend money for an appraisal of our property. While the membership was in favor of spending $5,000. for appraisals, there was an undercurrent of dissatisfaction and the offer expired of its own terms in November of 1963.
In 1963 the Club became involved in a law suit with State Highway Department concerning the taking of Club property to use for the installation of a Jug handle turn on Morris Avenue alongside the 7th fairway. Success in the suit brought payment from the State for its taking of Club property.

Golf carts were first purchased by the Club in September of 1963. Their use on a rental basis was restricted to members who warranted their use due to physical impairment. The number of carts and their use were limited to prevent excessive wear upon the course and preserve the caddie corps.


Several barns were demolished and a Greenskeeper's office and modern complex of storage sheds were erected in 1965. Upon the resignation of Pete Pedzazzi, the same year, Jack Martin was hired as greenskeeper. Jack grew up at Suburban, worked on the course and caddied prior to his college studies in agriculture.

While there have been several unfortunate accidents on the course during the years, the one during the summer of 1966 bears mentioning because of its spectacular nature. A member was struck by lightning while addressing the ball on the 2nd tee. Witnesses say the lightning hit a tree, went down the trunk of the tree, jumped to the player who had his driver partially raised, and proceeded to travel throughout the course's metal pipe irrigation system. The shocks were felt by members playing on adjacent holes. Fortunately, the member's life was saved by the quick assistance of physician members playing with him.

In another incident, a doctor standing on the seventeenth green was hit in the groin by a ball driven off the twelfth tee. This incident resulted in the erection of the fence between the twelfth tee and seventeenth green. Fortunately the doctor was not seriously injured. Later that evening while dining in the Club House, the doctor was asked by a female member "where did the ball hit you? The doctor's response, "If you got hit where I got hit, you wouldn't had got hit at all".

The rebuilding of the 11th and 14th tees and the installation of the practice fairway with an elevated tee were accomplished in 1966.

In 1966, the Board of Governors commenced a series of renovations to the interior of the Club House. The entire dining area, offices and lobby, the men's locker room and grill room, as well as the ladies locker room and lounge area, were renewed between the years 1966 and 1969. A steam room and massage room were installed and the entire public area of the Club House was refurbished.

Suburban continued into the 70's with its membership traditionally reflecting the demographics of the surrounding communities, representing all professions and businesses in the area. The Club prided itself on being known as a "Golf Club." Golf reign supreme and starting times remained unheard of. Golf as a popular pastime had begun to reach its stride; more people than ever were developing an interest in the game. By the early 70's, Suburban's membership roster had reached its capacity of 250 golfing members. The social aspect of the game soon required improvements and renovations to the Club House. The dining room was expanded and redecorated. Jaques Labye was hired to manage the dining facilities. Under his stewardship, the facility was highly successful. In 1977, he left to open a restaurant of his own.

In the late 70's an economic slow down had a direct impact on the business community and the membership of the Club; membership dwindled to a low of 196. While the number was sufficient to maintain golf as traditionally played, the revenue was insufficient to meet the non-golf operations. Many experiments were undertaken to remedy the situation, some successful, others not. Yet, the Club was able to keep its head above water and forged on into the 80's.

Golfing attitudes, as those of society, were undergoing a transformation. Candidates for membership seemed more interested in the social aspects of the game, rather than the challenge of pitting one's score against par and that of playing companions.

To the chagrin of the "Golf Purist" and old timers, golf carts inexorably made their entry into the game at Suburban. Initially introduced in September 1963, on an "as needed" basis for use by members bearing medical certificates, their popularity grew. In addition, it was apparent the carts generated a much needed source of revenue for the Club. Carts, as well as, caddies were here to stay. The original pro shop building would house the growing inventory of golf carts. For the "Golf Purist" and old timers, the challenge of Mr. Tillinghast's design remained the same, with or without carts, for the pro and duffer alike.

The media has often characterized our course as "well bunkered and tree lined." The course had been lengthened somewhat from what it was in the 20's but its length is not its challenge. This is found in the narrowness of the fairways and tightly trapped small greens. Gary Player, the well known Touring Pro, playing the 10th hole some years ago was heard to remark, "You have to play this hole single file". Tillinghast's original design was a par 70, with the fifth hole a par 4; the present ladies' tee was the original tee. This hole is now a par 5. The brook which at one time traversed the fairway has been piped and covered to form the pond which now exists short of the green.

In the mid 80's, the course was made longer and more challenging by lengthening the tees, narrowing fairways, growing the rough and creating new bunkers. Tees on 1, 2, 9, 10, 12, 16 and 17 were extended and new traps were installed on 5, 13 and 15. In addition, many trees were transplanted from the woods onto the course. These changes to the Tillinghast's original design have maintained the character and challenge to skill and accuracy.

Marty Wallach, who retired in 1980 and passed away in 1996, served as Club Professional for 37 years. Brian Richards, his successor, was the only fourth Club Pro in Suburban's history. Kevin Syring served as Pro from 1990 to 1999. Our Pro, Mark McCormick, took the helm in 2000, and along with Kevin Syring, are only two of a handful of Pro and Amateur golfers to break par at Suburban.

Over the years, the Club has boasted of many fine golfers as Club Champions. All were different in style and course management; those who lacked distance off the tee made up for it in their short game and their putting. Safe to say, few were able to duplicate the records attributed to men such as Marty Issler or Harold Whelan.

No history of Suburban Golf Club would not be complete without the mention of the long and faithful service of Leo Meyers, as locker room steward Mr. Myers, "Leo" to members and guests alike, has serve the club for almost 50 years, the employee with the longest service by far. He has contributed to much of what makes Suburban unique in character and tradition.

The dawn of the millennium marks the undertaking of the most extensive renovation in the Club's history. Two million dollars in funds were approved by the general membership for on course renovations. Golf course architect, Ron Pritchard, was commissioned to create and implement the Master Plan. Every tee and bunker on the course was rebuilt, the fourteenth green was redesigned and built to USGA specifications, a complete new irrigation system and pumps were installed. Approximately 125 yards were added to the length of the course. 

To avoid slighting anyone, we have purposely not mentioned the names of members except where absolutely required. Throughout its history, the membership of Suburban has represented a diverse cross section of the population of North Central New Jersey. All share in one common denominator, the love of the game of Golf. Suburban Golf Club is a home to all who desire to maintain the grand traditions of the game, while providing a pause in the day to day demands of life.


In writing the history of Suburban Golf Club, your author has deliberately avoided reference to members by name. It is a formidable task to mention the names of all the members who contributed to the success of the Club through the years and the risk of overlooking a name is great. There have been many contributions, both anonymously and of those things that were made known to the general membership. Because of this reason, the real history of the Club cannot be written. The real history lies in the development of the spirit of fellowship among the members. This indeed has been the keystone of Suburban Golf Club since its inception. The Club has always been a haven from the anxieties and pressure of everyday life for individuals from all walks of life. The Club has maintained through the years several unwritten traditions, among them are the open invitation to play golf with all members and to invite ho spitality in the grill room, especially in recent years through the use of the round table.

Suburban tradition has been the democratic manner of the relationship between members. The Association's strength is supported in the traditional comradeship among its members. It has been, is now, and should always be a fine Club.