New look for Orchard Hills


Sean Dudley

Bergen County, New Jersey nine hole course Orchard Hills is to be renovated by architect Robert McNeil of the Northeast Golf Company. The course was originally designed in part by AW Tillinghast, the creator of Bethpage Black and Winged Foot.

Initially a safety issue drove the objective of the improvements. Balls from the existing par three fourth hole, located adjacent to the Bergen County Community College outdoor athletics facility, regularly found their way over a fence and onto the track.

“Over time features wear, strategies change, technology advances, competition gains, history is lost, all having some level of effect on the overall quality of a golf facility,” said McNeil.

While working with superintendent Peter Evans and county golf manager Kevin Purcell, McNeil discovered that portions of the course were part of an original AW Tillinghast design from the 1920s. Some vestiges of his work still exist. McNeil, Evans and Purcell also found the original routing that made use of a bend of land opposite the pond adjacent to the existing fifth hole. These historical revelations have been incorporated in the comprehensive plan to recapture a visual style and strategy of the original design and use the abandoned pond side land for a new fourth hole.

Design is complete and will be ready for contractor bid and construction later in the spring. The course will not close during the process. The building of new holes and greens at other holes will not affect operations or play.