Course Architect Robert White
The golf course at the Longue Vue Club was designed by a man who is sometimes forgotten, yet greatly recognized as being one of the forefathers of golf in America. Robert White, whom the Club still honors through a yearly golf event, was commissioned to build the golf course by Longue Vue’s Board of Governors in April 1922. Robert White was born in 1874 in St. Andrews, Scotland and immigrated to the United States in 1894. White began laying out courses from the time he arrived in the United States. In these years, it would typically only take him only one morning to walk the land and decide on nine tee and green locations.
In 1902, Robert White helped found the Illinois Professional Golf Association and was appointed their president. This society was only the second of its kind in the world, due to the fact that the British PGA was only founded in 1901. When the United States PGA was founded in 1916, White was elected its first president due to his close relationship to nearly a third of the pros in the United States, and he held the position until 1920.
White was the first to use agronomic methods to maintain grass, which was essential to the success of the golf in the United States due to the drastic differences in terrain and weather patterns cross-country. A true pioneer, Robert White was the first to build a putting green on the White House lawn, one of the first designers and manufacturers of golf clubs in America, designer and builder of over 100 golf courses, and responsible for bringing golf to the Grand Strand in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Prolific golf architect Albert Warren Tillinghast renovated the course in 1935, making several recommendations to improve on the original layout. Tillinghast's contributions left a lasting mark, and truly made Longue Vue’s course what it is today. He is often remembered as the first designer who consciously set out to create golf holes that were visually attractive, helping to transform golf course architecture from its roots in nature to a greater art form. Tillinghast drew on the principles of landscape design, engineering and art to transform a property into a spectacular playing field. During the torpor of the Great Depression, Tillinghast offered to help clubs such as Longue Vue economize on their maintenance. His suggestions can be noted in a letter that was sent by him to the PGA President on October 18, 1935. The following excerpt is from that letter:
“As directed by your telegram, I left here on the afternoon of the 15th by train, arriving at New Haven the next morning. On the morning of the 15th, at the request of P.G.A member Will McKay, I inspected the course at Longue Vue (note corrected spelling of previous report) Club at Pittsburgh. I was accompanied by McKay, J.H. Baily (Chairman of the Green Committee) and W.H. Key (Greenskeeper). Their chief problem has been the first hole with a blind drive to a side hill fairway. I gave them full instructions for a rather extensive grading operation, which they requested. Their next problem centered about the 10th and 11th holes, where a stiff climb to the former was most objectionable. I corrected this with a new site for the 9th green (a better one than originally) a new green for the shortened tenth and a new teeing ground for a shortened eleventh. In this manner the hill climb is eliminated completely.”