Suburban Golf Club – Union, New Jersey Guru's Rating: 8.9

The lawn chairs that adorn Suburban

Guru’s Rating: 8.9
SUBURBAN 4-1-1
1730 Morris Avenue Union, NJ ViewMap »
Phone: (908) 686-0413
Non-Resident Weekend Rate (with cart): N/A/Available via Tour GCX (www.tourgcx.com)
Driving Range? Yes

Suburban might be the best kept secret in the Tri-State area.  In fact, it’s so hush-hush that you’ll probably drive right by the entrance on busy Morris Avenue in Union, New Jersey, confused by the strip malls and gas stations – hardly the type of area you’d expect an A.W. Tillinghast work of art to live.  But once you’ve made the requisite U-turn and ambled your way up Suburban’s private driveway, you’re in for a treat.

Tillinghast managed to produce an excellent layout here, despite a limited amount of land to work with.  There’s almost no space in-between holes in some spots (particularly on the back), but instead of feeling cramped, you marvel at Tillinghast’s genius in utilizing every parcel of land available to him.  As a result, Suburban isn’t long (6471 from the tips), but it is interesting and challenging.  No two holes are alike and you’ll use nearly every club in your bag.

Suburban is located just twenty miles from Manhattan, and given its convenient placement and famous designer, it’s a bit peculiar that it doesn’t receive more attention (most golfers who I’ve mentioned it to respond with quizzical looks). With fewer than 200 members, Suburban doesn’t get as much play as other area clubs.  And that makes it special:  the course is almost always in outstanding shape.  In other words, it’s best that some secrets remain that way.

On the amenity side, I’m a sucker for any golf course with a driving range placed strategically next to the first tee. With no official tee-times, you can take some swings and begin at hole #1 whenever you’d like. That’s my version of “you had me at hello.”  While the clubhouse and locker room could use a renovation, there’s a nice porch and deck chairs overlooking the ninth green, the perfect spot for a post-round beverage.

Most Memorable Hole: Tie between #13 and #14, both Par 4’s (405 and 393 respectively), both of which are set amidst beautiful trees, each onewith a dogleg requiring an accurate tee-shot.  14 in particular has a very difficult green with a false front, protected by bunkers.

Most Challenging Hole: #2, a 385 yard par 4.  About as narrow an area from tee-box to fairway as it gets, trees challenging your ball flight.  But what really makes this hole difficult is the approach.  First, you’ve got to land your tee shot in the absolute perfect spot (straight at the turn of the dogleg right), otherwise you won’t even have an approach to begin with.  If you hit your drive too far (around 230), you’re in a large fairway bunker.  Too short, and you’ve got a mile uphill to a green that has no room on the left and slopes off on the right.  The entire fairway, in fact, slopes off in that direction.  Make sure you bring one of Suburban’s caddies along with you because the rough is thick (on all holes), and you may lose your ball without some assistance.

The Bottom Line: Suburban is legit, but shhh…don’t tell anyone.

Guru’s Tip: I wasn’t kidding about driving past the entrance. Suburban is going to come up before you know it. Go slow on Morris Avenue and put your right blinker on.  You’ll thank me later.

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11 Responses to “Suburban Golf Club – Union, New Jersey Guru's Rating: 8.9

  1. Brian says:

    I am a long-time member and the review is accurate… I love the sixth hole as well. You need to bomb it down the right center to get a great look at the elevated, false front green. After getting on, take a careful look at the green before you putt o depending on the pin, you may need your wedge again. Also, if you go over, write your * and move on…
    Thanks for the fair review.

  2. Brian says:

    I am a long-time member and the review is accurate… I love the sixth hole as well. You need to bomb it down the right center to get a great look at the elevated, false front green. After getting on, take a careful look at the green before you putt o depending on the pin, you may need your wedge again. Also, if you go over, write your * and move on…
    Thanks for the fair review.

  3. RICK says:

    I’m not a long-time member, but love the coarse just the same. I disagree, the club house and locker rooms are just fine and where else can you find a men’s grill room and I mean “Men’s”. The staff remains the same year after year, not like other private clubs who change staff yearly, depending on what country is working the cheapest that year. If your invited to play you should accept it’s a real treat. You can always find a game, and listen to the caddies “it really does break that much”.

  4. Ralph Miano says:

    I’ve been a member for nearly 20 years. It’s the best decision I’ve made after marrying my wife Margaret. Why is the course and club so great; there are many reasons. The layout is wonderful. Every hole is challenging; no two holes are alike. it is an easy course to walk and caddies are available. The next tee is adjacent to the green just played except for one juncture.The course is in excellent condition. The food and service in our restaurants is excellent. We have had only two Head Pros since I joined; Kevin Syring and Mark McCormick , our current pro.

    I believe that the 14th hole is one of the finest par 4’s I have ever played and the 10th hole played from the tips in my opinion is the signature hole on the course and only plays to 314 yards. The fun starts on the green! I can’t say enough about the membership. One never has a problem getting a game including new members who are invited to play by existing ones. Suburban is also a very inclusive club. Pedigree doesn’t count here; just a love of the game and a spirit of fellowship.

    While considered a relatively short course, I have played in enough Pro/Am events there and in the Suburban Cup, an annual affair in which three members play with an outstanding Met Area amateur. Rarely, do these top players break par. Why; because we keep the fairways narrow (usually 25 – 30 yards in the landing areas) and the rough high (3 1/2 inches). As we age and lose distance, one can still score well at Suburban if your putting stroke is sound and you are good around the greens.

    Location. Suburban is at the confluence of the Garden State Parkway, Route 22 and the Morris Avenue Turnpike. One is easily within a 30 minute drive from a radius of 25 miles. I thank Mr. Tillinghast every day for my enjoying his genius.
    Ralph Miano

  5. Ralph Miano says:

    I’ve been a member for nearly 20 years. It’s the best decision I’ve made after marrying my wife Margaret. Why is the course and club so great; there are many reasons. The layout is wonderful. Every hole is challenging; no two holes are alike. it is an easy course to walk and caddies are available. The next tee is adjacent to the green just played except for one juncture.The course is in excellent condition. The food and service in our restaurants is excellent. We have had only two Head Pros since I joined; Kevin Syring and Mark McCormick , our current pro.

    I believe that the 14th hole is one of the finest par 4’s I have ever played and the 10th hole played from the tips in my opinion is the signature hole on the course and only plays to 314 yards. The fun starts on the green! I can’t say enough about the membership. One never has a problem getting a game including new members who are invited to play by existing ones. Suburban is also a very inclusive club. Pedigree doesn’t count here; just a love of the game and a spirit of fellowship.

    While considered a relatively short course, I have played in enough Pro/Am events there and in the Suburban Cup, an annual affair in which three members play with an outstanding Met Area amateur. Rarely, do these top players break par. Why; because we keep the fairways narrow (usually 25 – 30 yards in the landing areas) and the rough high (3 1/2 inches). As we age and lose distance, one can still score well at Suburban if your putting stroke is sound and you are good around the greens.

    Location. Suburban is at the confluence of the Garden State Parkway, Route 22 and the Morris Avenue Turnpike. One is easily within a 30 minute drive from a radius of 25 miles. I thank Mr. Tillinghast every day for my enjoying his genius.
    Ralph Miano

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