NJSGA February Hall Of Fame Spotlight: Shippen, Glutting, Tillinghast
In each E-Revision, the NJSGA spotlights three members of the inaugural class of the NJSGA Hall of Fame, which will be inducted on May 1. February, Black History Month, is the perfect time to acknowledge golf pioneer John Shippen.
JOHN SHIPPEN (1879-1968)
John Shippen, an African-American/Native American golfer who competed in several early U.S. Opens, was believed to be the first American-born golf professional. He was the son of a black father and a full-blooded Shinnecock mother. Shippen was born in Washington D.C., but was living on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation on Long Island in 1893 when he became a caddie at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (SHGC) in Southampton. In 1895, at the age of 16, he earned an assistant professional post at SHGC where he began giving lessons to some of the club members and became an accomplished player in his own right. The SHGC members were impressed by Shippen’s ability and with the 1896 U.S. Open to be contested at the club, a group of members entered him into the championship; reportedly over the protests of several English and Scottish professionals in the field.
As told by Robert Sommers in a 1968 USGA Golf Journal feature: “Twenty-eight players competed in that 1896 Open – most of the professionals were originally from Britain. But among the entries were Shippen and Oscar Bunn, a full-blooded Shinnecock. What happened when the other professionals discovered that Shippen and Bunn were to play is undocumented, but before his death Shippen recalled it in this fashion: 'The other pros in the Open held a meeting and said they would refuse to play if Bunn and Shippen were allowed in the championship. Theodore Havemeyer was president of the USGA then and was in charge of the championship. He announced to the objecting professionals that the USGA intended to conduct the Open as it saw fit, and that the championship would be held even if the field was composed of only Shippen and Bunn.
'No one withdrew, and the Open went on'…Thus in its infancy the USGA refused to accept racial barriers.”
In those days, the U.S. Open was contested over 36 holes, played in a single day. At the end of the morning round, Shippen was tied for first place. But in the afternoon, his quest to win the Open was derailed as he played the 13th hole. In the 1968 Golf Journal article, Shippen described his downfall on the 13th hole as follows:
“It was just a little, easy par 4, and all I had to do was play it to the right. I played it too far to the right and ended up in a sand road. And I kept hitting it in that sand road until I finally finished with an 11.”
Shippen ended up tied for fifth, seven strokes behind Jim Foulis; the exact number of strokes he lost to par on the 13th hole that afternoon. Without the seven lost strokes, he would have tied Foulis and forced a playoff. Shippen played in several more U.S. Opens but never again came so close to winning. In 1902, he again tied for fifth, but was 11 strokes behind the winner, Laurie Auchterlonie.
Shippen had a long career as a golf professional, working at many notable clubs including Shinnecock Hills, Maidstone Club and National Golf Links of America on Long Island; Aronimink Golf Club in Pennsylvania; and, among others, Spring Lake Golf Club and Somerset Hills Country Club in New Jersey. But he established his legacy by spending the last 30 years of his career as the professional at Shady Rest Country Club in Scotch Plains, N.J. He remained there until his retirement in 1960.
Today, the club (owned and operated by the Township of Scotch Plains) is known as Scotch Hills Country Club and both the John Shippen Memorial Golf Foundation and the John Shippen Youth Golf Academy are named in his honor.
CHARLOTTE GLUTTING (1910-1996)
Glutting was born in Newark in 1910. She graduated from the Beard School (now Morristown-Beard School) in 1927.
Playing out of Rock Spring Club, she was the first to win the state Women’s Amateur Championship four times (1931, 1932, 1934, 1935).
Glutting captured the decisive point of the 1934 Curtis Cup to lead the American team to victory. In 1938, she swept the last three holes in her play against British player Nan Baird to help the U.S. team to retain the Curtis Cup for the fourth consecutive time.
Glutting was also selected to the 1940 American Curtis Cup team, but the competition did not take place because of World War II.
Glutting captured the 1934 North and South Women's Amateur played at Pinehurst Resort. Glutting also won the Eastern Championship (1933, 1937), the Mid-South Golf Championship (1935), the Narragansett Pier Invitational Tournament (1939), and the New Jersey Shore Tournament (1935). In 1935, she reached the semi-finals of the U.S. Women's Amateur.
ALBERT WARREN TILLINGHAST (1876-1942)
Born in Philadelphia, it was in New Jersey where Tillinghast made his mark and became one of the most-sought-after architects of his day. In 1916, Aat age 40, he moved to New Jersey and established an office in Harrington Parkin 1916. Baltusrol, the first contiguous 36-hole course built in America, was considered was his most important design in the state.
His original New Jersey designs, in order beginning in 1916, include Shackamaxon, Somerset Hills, Essex County, Baltusrol, Suburban, Forest Hill, Suneagles, Ridgewood and Alpine. Reconstruction/extended designs include Spring Lake, Upper Montclair, Glen Ridge, Hollywood and Echo Lake. He also did consulting examinations on Pine Valley, Hollywood, Deal, Cranford and Trenton.
Among his nationally notable other projects were Bethpage State Park, Winged Foot Golf Club, Newport Country Club, and The Shawnee Inn & San Francisco Golf Club Resort.
In Westchester County alone, among the most noted of the 16 courses that Tillinghast designed (or redesigned) there are Winged Foot, Fenway, Wykagyl, Old Oaks, Quaker Ridge, Scarsdale, Metropolis, Briar Hall (now Trump National Golf Club Westchester) and Sleepy Hollow.
The Wissahickon Course at the Philadelphia Cricket Club is dedicated to Tillinghast, who designed the course in 1920.
The bulk of Tillinghast’s work was completed between 1917 and 1937, when he maintained his office in Harrington Park, NJ. Tillinghast died in 1942 and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2015.