Niagara Gazette

Sports

August 18, 2013

Ken Ruggiero's Golf: Winged Foot and the Red Nine

Niagara Gazette — The following is the first in a two-part series on the Red Nine Golf Course at Hyde Park in Niagara Falls, NY. The writer’s intention is to illustrate the historic significance of this golfing venue and to assist in its resurrection rather than its demise.

THE SETUP

What do Winged Foot West, the San Francisco GC, the Bethpage Black course, Baltusrol, Quaker Ridge, Somerset Hills, and Winged Foot East all have in common?

In the latest issue of Golf Magazine, each of these legendary golf settings is regarded as one of the Top 50 golf courses in the United States. And, all seven venues have one other common thread.

Each of these celebrated cathedrals to golf was calculated at the hands of Albert Warren Tillinghast, perhaps the most prolific golf course builder in the sport’s history.

Not one ‘Top Fifty’ golf course architect has more illustrious layouts attached to his talents than “Tilly”. None. Not Pete Dye, not Alister MacKenzie, not Donald Ross.

And how might this information have implication to us on the Niagara Frontier?

The celebrated A.W. Tillinghast, golf’s equivalent to Rembrandt, walked what was at the time the twenty-seven fairways of Hyde Park in 1935 and took an active role in its total redesign. That’s right! Tillinghast touched both Winged Foot and the Red Nine.

Here’s an excerpt from a letter I’ve uncovered (thanks to Dave Stefik, golf enthusiast, friend, and proud grandson of well-known Hyde Park professional Wendell Kay) dated August 25th, 1935 that will confirm this fact. It reads in part:

“To the President of the United States Golf Association: Dear Sir, Arrived according to schedule at Niagara Falls at noon on Saturday. I had hoped for a day of rest on Sunday but (Niagara Falls) Parks Superintendent Ward Dean was detained away from town on Saturday and my inspection of the municipal course had to go over until this Sunday morning, when Parks Superintendent Dean had returned.”

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