121 Buffington Road, Picatinny Arsenal, Dover, NJ 07806
+973.724.4653
usarmy.mwrpicatinnyguestservices@mail.mil

History

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. 

1925: The First Expansion

By 1925, the course had 9 holes and was able to host its first tournament. The additional holes were constructed by filling in swampland and a pond, which was located where today’s 18th fairway is played. It also included the removal of temporary barracks along the fairway of what is now the first hole of the course. 

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. 

1926: Increasing Popularity

A 1926 guide to Army posts rated Picatinny Arsenal as “one of the most desirable of all of the Ordinance Stations”. The golf course and two tennis courts helped encourage this rating, as did the area’s large supply of deer and pheasant for hunting, and bass and pickerel for fishing. Swimming around Lake Picatinny was also a popular past-time.

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.

1930: The Original Pro Shop

The Pro Shop was initially located in the rear of a truck, until it moved into a room in Building 119 across from the course, before finally locating to what is now Building 121A, next to The Club at Picatinny. The course remained mostly unchanged until the 1940s.

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.

1937: The Apple Orchard

Around this time, Picatinny Arsenal hosted a 3.5 acre apple orchard, hosting over 200 trees bearing a variety of healthy fruit. Honorary “Superintendent of the Grounds”, Mr. J. H. Gunther, conserved this land along with the thousands of surrounding flowers with nothing more than 3 motorized lawn mowers, a power sprayer, garden tractor, and a few hand-powered mowers, pruners, etc. 

He and his small horticultural force accomplished this monumental task with pride. (Right) J.H. Gunther, Foreman, A. Yorkstown, W. Zalaski, S. Urban, J. O’Dell, & D. Gould

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.

1948: Harris’s Third Assignment 

Now the Commanding Officer, Harris assured the course would further improve. Five more holes were added to the layout, representing one of the final moves toward the ultimate development of the championship 18-hole course. 

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. 

1958: Locker Rooms and Expansion

In 1958, Picatinny moved a wooden building from across the road and annexed it to Building 121, the Golf Club, to house locker rooms for both sexes and a Pro Shop. This is the current structure and layout our members and guests see today, with the addition of Sam Adam’s Pub. 

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. 

1972: The Officer’s Club

1972 brought the US Army tradition of The Officer’s Club to Picatinny. The Gold Room addition was completed, which was a sunken private dining room, and the original putting green was removed. 

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.

1984: Halfway House

Behind what is now Gunpowder Grill there is the remnant of a stone wall, which was part of the original historic entrance to the Arsenal. 1984 marked the reconstruction of this Halfway House, before being rebranded into Lil’ Skeeters in 2003 and eventually Gunpowder Grill, known for the best burger in Morris County.

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.

1994: The Club Evolves

The Officer’s Club conducted an expanded patio project, leading to the evolution of the club’s name. In 1996, it became The Club, and then in 2002, FMWR renamed it to the Cannon Gate Catering & Conference Center. With new staffing and vision comes the current state, The Club at Picatinny, which upholds its promises of fine service to our Military, Civilian and General Public communities.

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.

2001: Creating a Practice Area 

2001 marked another upgrade for the course. With the destruction of the Officer’s Club pool to make way for what is now Frog Falls Aquatic Park, there was now room to create a professional short-game area for members to practice on. The area includes 3 USGA greens and sand traps.

2002: Hole 15 Renovations

2002 renovations included a completely new USGA green and 3 sand traps for hole 15 of the course. 

2003: New Cart Staging Area

This year brought additional renovations to the Pro Shop area of the course, including a small deck patio and cart staging area.

2004: Bridge Renovations

Due to normal wear-and-tear, the bridges on holes 6, 7, & 8 were replaced entirely. 

2005: Bridge Renovations

Continuing with the bridge renovations, 2005 included the complete replacement of bridges on holes 9 and 18. 

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. 

2007: New Fleet

80 brand-new battery-operated ClubCars were purchased for the course. Industrial sharpening equipment was purchased for the golf maintenance staff and their work on the course. 

2008: Men’s Tee Boxes

Men’s tee boxes on holes 3, 4, and 6 were constructed.

2009: Sand Traps

Sand traps on holes 9, 12, 15, and 18 were rebuilt to add Sandtrapper material, which lines the sand traps and helps prevent washouts and further wear on the bunkers. 

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. 

2011: Rain

2011 marked a new loss for the course. Extreme weather for the year caused the massive loss of 94 of the 190 available days of the golf calendar. 

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.

2013: Forward Tee

The forward tee on hole 16 was constructed, adding to the continual course upkeep and grounds renewal. (Hole 17 tee construction pictured)

2014: Carts

70 additional carts were purchased to replace and build-up the existing cart fleet. 

2015: Forward Tees

Forward tees on on holes 12, and 13 were constructed. The hole 10 tee was rebuilt and enlarged to improve course of play.

2016: Beginning of Cart Path Renovations

Cart path paving on holes 1 through 5 were completed, offering a smoother ride for golfers. 

2017: Hole 11 Renovation

A new bridge on hole 11 was installed, branded with the Golf Club name and logo. Cart paths on holes 8 through 10 were completed for course improvement.

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

2019: The Pavilion

In 2019, the brand new outdoor pavilion project was completed. With built-in lighting, power, and ceiling fans, this addition to the grounds created a modern, welcoming atmosphere for golfers to enjoy outings on and brides to decorate for their wedding day. It continued to evolve through 2020, with organized important renovations, redesigined menus and rebranded to The Club at Picatinny, a nod to the structure’s origins and post-wide nickname.

Back on the course, drainage ditches on holes 3 through 9 were cleaned for improved course drainage and improved play experience.

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.

2021 Centennial Year

Join us in celebrating 100 years of Golf and US Army history! We have a season filled with events lined up for our members and their guests. Thank you for supporting our course, our military and being a part of our Picatinny Golf Community. 

Notable Figures

(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.

In Loving Memory

Christopher Kunkel

Chris retired from Picatinny in April of 2019 after 40 years of dedicated service within the Family and MWR Program. Chris’ career started at Picatinny in 1979 as a member of the Picatinny golf maintenance team. He was later promoted and spent 25 years serving as the Golf Course Superintendent, helping design and shape the course to what it is today. He most recently served as Chief of Business and Recreation for Family and MWR, from 2005 to 2019.
The results of his lifetime of work can be seen in nearly every MWR program customers enjoy today. Chris’ forty years of dedicated service is a true reflection of his passion to serve Army Families and a community he loved.

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.

Mike Brown

After serving on the grounds team, Mike was promoted to Superintendent in 2005, after Kunkel was promoted to BRD. Mike has taken initiative on multiple course improvement projects, most notably the current course drainage plan, which has dramatically improved course conditions in the harsh, Northern NJ weather. Mike is an invaluable asset to the MWR team, having unmatched dedication to the Picatinny Golf Club and consistently giving an outstanding performance and setting an example of the US Army Values.

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.

Ron Stickle

Ronnie Stickle has 25 years of experience working in the automobile arena, including over 15 years with BMW. When he joined our team in fall of 2013, he brought his technical diagnostic skills, everyday fabrication knowledge, strong work ethic and hands-on expertise. You can find Ronnie on the course cracking plenty of jokes and always willing to lend a hand. 

Chris McDermott

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. 

Mike Wenning 

A Sussex County native, Mike Wenning joined the Picatinny Golf Club in 2015 after serving as Assistant Superintendent at Fiddlers Elbow and Wild Turkey at Crystal Springs Resort. Having graduated from the Rutgers Turf Program in 2006, Mike has been contributing to golf courses across NJ since 1996.

Lush Landscape

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. 

MAMMALS

Bat, Beaver, Black Bear, Cat, Coyote, Deer, Dog, Fox, Opossom, Raccoon, Skunk, Small Rodents, Squirrel

BIRDS

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

CONCERNS

Blue Heron & Geese are of special concern. Problem species include Canadian Geese, Moles & Skunks.

TREES

Ash
Black Cherry
Blue Spruce
Bradford Pear
Cottonwood
Crabapple
Dogwood
Douglas Fir

Flowering Cherry
Hawthorn
Hickory
Locust
Norway Maple
Norway Spruce
Oaks
Poplar

Red Maple
Scotch Pine
Sugar Maple
Sycamore
Weeping Willow
White Birch
White Pine
Yew

PLANTS AND SHRUBS

Andromeda
Azalea
Burning Bush

Forsythia
Hawthorn
Ilex/Holley

Lilac
Rhododendron
Sumac

1945 Golf & Tennis Club By-Laws & Rules of Play

1971 Men’s Golf Member Handbook

Historical Resources:
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