Located near the Jersey Shore and some 50 miles from both New York City and Philadelphia, Hollywood Golf Club was established in 1898. But it was Walter Travis, the 1900, 1901 and 1903 U.S. Amateur champion, who brought prestige to the club when he designed the current layout in 1917. Rees Jones finished a restoration project in 1998.
Travis had only designed three courses when he was approached by Hollywood Golf Club in 1916 to convert the 1913 original Isaac Mackie design. According to Bob Labbance’s book “The Old Man,” the club was dissatisfied with the renovation work noted architect Seth Raynor had done, and Travis was contacted by Frank B. Barrett, the chairman of the green committee.
Travis was heavily involved with The American Golfer magazine at the time, so he hadn’t done much course architecture. But he did collaborate with James Duncan at Ekwanok Country Club in Vermont, site of the 1914 U.S. Amateur, and Hollywood members liked his design philosophy. He had written in The American Golfer: “A really good course should abound in hazards – and good courses develop good players.”
Travis was intrigued by the 300 acres of sandy land afforded him at Hollywood Golf Club. The site was devoid of trees, thus exposing the course to the wind. Travis used Mackie’s basic routing, but gutted all the greens and bunkers. He also combined holes 13 and 14 into what is today’s 13th hole and created a difficult par-3 17th.
The new course featured 220 bunkers, along with challenging green complexes. Willie Rickie, the 1921 Metropolitan Golf Association Amateur champion, considered the new layout second only to Pine Valley. Club historian Tom MacWood found a 1926 article in Metropolitan Golfer magazine in which 1928 U.S. Open champion Johnny Farrell called Hollywood the second-best course in the country.
Barrett also is credited for some of Travis’ design. He served as the club’s green chairman from 1917-1930. Prior to the 1921 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Hollywood, the New York Times wrote, “Some of the holes, the creations of Frank B. Barrett, represent unique, almost radical principles. There are two roads to every green, while the exceptionally large tees permit a variety of distances.”
Added Rickie: “Hollywood is another course where the landscaping has had great attention. Hollywood, in a sense, is a monument to Frank Barrett as Pine Valley is to George Crump.”
The 1921 U.S. Women’s Amateur, won by Marion Hollins, is the only USGA championship previously conducted at the club. Other local and regional competitions have been conducted at Hollywood, including the 1925 Met Amateur, the 1956, 1986 and 2002 New Jersey State Amateur, the 1906 and 1991 Met Open, the 2006 New Jersey State Open and the 2007 New Jersey State Women’s Amateur.