100 Years of Golf
This historical timeline of the Picatinny Golf Course is a living digital document that will be routinely updated as new research is finished and photos are enhanced. Feel free to contact us if you have any contribution we may be missing!
1921: Humble Beginnings
The Picatinny Golf Course began its slow evolution in 1921, when Captain Hartrick (first name unknown) persuaded the then commander, Major J. H. Pelot, to permit a four-hole affair using 3-inch cartridge cases for cups, bamboo fishing poles for flag staffs, and cartridge cloth for flags. The smallest version of the course was originally located on what is now Hole #16.
Captain Hartrick partnered with future Arsenal Commander, Captain J.P. Harris who, already a likely prospect for major league baseball, accepted the invitation to play golf and invested $7.50 in a set of 5 clubs: a brassie (2 wood), a mid-iron (2 iron), a mashie (5 iron), a niblick (9-iron), and a putter. Harris quickly displayed a natural athletic talent for this sport as well.
Lightning Triggers First Explosion
Shortly after 5pm on July 10, 1926, several golfers remaining on the course noticed a storm approaching. As thunder and lightning raged overhead, they ran for cover. Suddenly, one of them looked up to see not the thin, jagged line of lightning he expected, but a huge orange-colored flame. It lit the sky behind the knoll dividing Picatinny from the Naval Powder Depot at Lake Denmark. Lightning had struck a tree overhanging a magazine that housed some 600,000 pounds of TNT on the Navy portion of Picatinny.
1927: The Tennis Club
As the Tennis Club came to full-swing, a team was formed in 1927 to compete in the Morris County Tennis League. The Technical Division sent participants to doubles tournaments in Dover throughout 1928, and in 1930, 28 people formed The Picatinny Arsenal Tennis Club with Colonel Crain as President. The club immediately set up two full courts by the Administration Building and eventually a third by 1933. The Club opened its doors to non-Picatinnyans in 1936.
1936: The Officer’s Club
The Administration Building was then located to where one of the original 1921 greens had been, but the now 9-hole course was considered one of the best courses in the area. There was a Golf Pro in attendance, and tournament fees helped alleviate costs at the Post Restaurant. By now, it had acquired a clubhouse, now known as The Club at Picatinny.
1942: The New Pastime
By the time Harris returns to Picatinny Arsenal in 1942, golf at Picatinny had become more popular than ever, and the course and tennis club were thriving.
1957: Eugene F. Wogan & Sons
Wilfred “Bricky” Hosking was part of a six-member committee who worked with Eugene F. Wogan & Sons, an architectural firm in Worcester, Massachusetts, to plan the golf course’s expansion to 18 holes. This committee consisted of Hosking, Frank Ferry, Len Zeek, James Walsh, Al Tietscheid, and Seth Ely, who were all appointed after Harris’s retirement. Planning began in 1954, and the new greens were finished in 1957. The principal funding source for the project was member donations, some reaching high amounts such as $500. The committee insisted on arranging the holes so players had to cross Green Pond Brook and thereby face a water hazard.
1963: Engineers Move In
The most recent major constructural change to the course was undertaken in 1963, when the construction of Buildings 92 and 94 compelled the relocation of the 600-yard 14th hole. The change was finalized in 1965, resulting in the modern layout you see today, with engineering and research offices overlooking the course.
1974: The Driving Range
At the 1974 Golf Awards Dinner-Dance, Commander Colonel J.l. Holman announced he had approved plans for the development of an additional 9 holes along the east side of Parker Road. Designed by the Golf Committee of that time, the expansion presented many new challenges to the game, due to the hilly terrain. Player skills would be tested, and the rearrangement allowed foursomes to tee off simultaneoulsy from Hole 1, with the 3 finishing holes located just a short walk from the club house. A driving range was also constructed during this project.
1989: Goodbye to Gold
1989 brought the first in a series of renovations to The Club. The Gold Room was removed and then brought to level with the rest of the building, creating the current layout utilized today.
2000: Into the New Millennium
Course designed, Jim Blaukovitch of Quakerstown, PA, created a new master plan for the grounds, which included renovated course furniture and buildings. Through the use of white vinyl siding and more traditional architectural style, The Club House, Pro Shop, and Cart Shed were visually brought together in a modern, cohesive design. The large, elevated patio was added to the back of the Club House, (now The Club at Picatinny), and overlooks the 18th hole and new putting greens. Blaukovitch created a visually appealing layout that offers The Club greater flexibility for its flourishing party and special event business. Renovations also included all new Tee boxes and 3 sand traps.
2002: Hole 15 Renovations
2002 renovations included a completely new USGA green and 3 sand traps for hole 15 of the course.
2004: Bridge Renovations
Due to normal wear-and-tear, the bridges on holes 6, 7, & 8 were replaced entirely.
2006: Building 40
Building 40, aka the cart barn, was renovated to fully house and recharge the golf cart fleet. Forward tee boxes on 5, 7, and 8 were constructed while the hole 17 tee box was rebuilt.
2008: Men’s Tee Boxes
Men’s tee boxes on holes 3, 4, and 6 were constructed.
2010: Sam Adams Pub
2010 brought the building renovation and installation of Sam Adam’s pub, the 19th hole of the golf course. Sam’s Pub offers lunch to both the golfers and Picatinny Arsenal workforce, and provides a relaxed environment for private events and after-hours get-togethers.
2012: A Time to Rebuild
The golf maintenance team took the opportunity in 2012 to rebuild the grounds of the course with an immeasurable amount of top soil and seeds, allowing for new growth and healthier greens.
70 additional carts were purchased to replace and build-up the existing cart fleet.
2016: Beginning of Cart Path Renovations
Cart path paving on holes 1 through 5 were completed, offering a smoother ride for golfers.
2018: Drainage Project
2018 marked the beginning of the planning for the new course drainage project, spearheaded by Superintendent Mike Brown. After his plans and strategy were approved by the installation, Brown and his team immediately got to work to alleviate the drainage issues caused by decades-old design. Within just a few short months, our members begain to notice and enjoy the positive changes in the course conditions, experiencing dramatically decreased play modifications due to harsh weather.
2018- Cart path paving on holes 11 through 18 were completed
2020: EZ-GO Carts
Although many local businesses and government facilities faced an onslaught of telework and temporary closures, the Picatinny Golf Course saw an increase in play. We would like to thank all of our staff, members, and guests for their diligence in adhering to the safety guidelines put forth. We experienced minimal affects on the golf club, and were still able to invest in course improvement projects, such as 39 new EZ-GO golf carts.
(In no specific order)
Throughout the 100 year history of the course, countless golfers, civilians, guests and military members have made lasting contributions to the course. Although we would need pages to name them all, we’ve picked a few friendly faces whose history we found important to share.
Fred and Ann Santucci
Even today, you can still hear Fred and Ann’s names mentioned on the course and during outings. Fred, who joined the club in 1957, was one of our strongest advocates for the course and membership program. Ann, his wife, was instrumental in developing the ladies’ league at Picatinny, and well-known for her kindness. You can still see their names on championship plaques in Sam Adam’s Pub. Sadly, Ann passed in 2013, survived by her husband Fred, currently 96.
Our ladies leage is still going strong to this day, with regular play days and charitable endeavors.
Frank F. Ferry, LTC Ret
Frank Ferry served as the Green Committee Chairman from 1953-1974. Under his direction, the course was expanded from nine to eighteen holes, the irrigation system was installed, shrub and tree planting was added and the overall turf condition greatly improved. Known for his personal devotion to the course and ‘spirit of good fellowship’, his illustrious leadership is permanently engrained in this club’s history.
Our current Head Golf Pro, Chris returned to Picatinny in 2019. Having served as 1st Assistant PGA Professional from 2009-2013 at Picatinny, Chris left to gain additional experience leading various private clubs in NJ before returning to run the entire PGC. More ambitious than ever, Chris has made great strides in rebuilding the outing and event schedule while providing great service to the membership.
Although hearing the words ‘Picatinny Arsenal’ may make you think of engineers and US Army uniforms, Picatinny is extremely proud of its preservation efforts of the unique flora and fauna on the Installation.
NATIVE SPECIES TO PICATINNY
Picatinny Arsenal is home to many animals and creatures. There isn’t a day that goes by where our residents, civilians and guests miss an interaction with a furry, scaly, or feathery neighbor.
Bat, Beaver, Black Bear, Cat, Coyote, Deer, Dog, Fox, Opossom, Raccoon, Skunk, Small Rodents, Squirrel
Bluebird, Duck, Chickadee, Crow/Jay, Eagle, Finch, Geese, Hawk, Heron/Egret, Nuthatch, Oriole, Owl, Pheasant, Robin, Swallow, Swan, Sparrow, Thrush, Titmouse, Turkey, Warbler, Woodpecker, Wren
REPTILES & AMPHIBIANS
Frog, Salamander, Snakes, Turtles
Blue Heron & Geese are of special concern. Problem species include Canadian Geese, Moles & Skunks.
PLANTS AND SHRUBS
100 Years of Golf
1945 Golf & Tennis Club By-Laws & Rules of Play
1971 Men’s Golf Member Handbook
1. Picatinny: The First Century by Patrick J. Owens
2. Picatinny Arsenal: The Firepower Story, Department of Defense
3. Images courtesy of the Library of Congress