116. Baltimore Country Club (East)
A.W. Tillinghast (1926) / Keith Foster (2015)
The East Course at Baltimore Country Club, also known as the Five Farms Course, was one of many outstanding A.W. Tillinghast designs nationally ranked for decades by Golf Digest. Still, even jewels need polishing now and then. The club brought in Keith Foster, perhaps the most modest of modern-day course architect. He chooses to work solely on restorations, no more than two at one time, and declines to self-promote. He won’t even nominate any of his courses for any of Golf Digest’s course awards, preferring to let others handle that. At Baltimore C.C., Foster removed trees (which nearly everyone is doing these days), rebuilt greens to make them manageable with today’s green speeds, re-established Tillinghast’s bunkering, regrassed everything and brought back sparkle to the East Course.
100 Greatest/Second 100 Greatest History: Ranked on America’s 200 Toughest: 1966. Ranked on 100 Greatest: 1969 through 2004. Ranked on Second 100 Greatest: 2013 through 2016, 2019-2020. Highest ranking: No. 40, 1997-1998. Previous ranking: not ranked
Aside from some of the elite championship tests in the country, I would put this right up there in terms of shot values and layout variety. A true Tillinghast gem that falls under the radar compared to his some other works.
The opening few holes are downright outstanding and very difficult. The course plays through the hilly Maryland horse country and Tilly makes great use of the property. The vistas are simply breath-taking. It was a joy to play and perhaps it is Tilly’s most undulating course with virtually every hole being uphill or downhill with level lies impossible to find!
What sticks out for me with BCC is the design variety. That’s evidenced by the two outstanding par 5s — the reachable, hard dogleg-left 6th over the barn contrasted by the brutally difficult three-shot 14th. On each, you are tested on length, accuracy and finesse. But if one of those aspects goes astray, your dreams of a 3 or 4 can quickly turn into the reality of a 7. The Great Hazard on the 14th is especially sensational.
A terrific routing laid out that really takes advantage of the gentle rolling hills. Course sits on a terrific piece of property with wonderful land movement throughout. The internal contours really helped make the course special. I loved the variety of the holes… the old barns throughout the course add charm.
Love the old school green complexes. The steep front, rear and side slopes with heavy tilt put the premium on your second shot, providing extremely high points for strategy. And the condition of the greens were just fabulous. Firm, fast and true. If you cannot make a putt here you cannot make one anywhere.