Albert Warren (A.W.) Tillinghast was born in north Philadelphia in 1874. As one of the golden age of golf architecture’s prime figures, his golf course designs are among the best in the word: San Francisco Golf Club, Bethpage, Baltusrol, Winged Foot, Baltimore, Somerset Hills and Quaker Ridge. According to a synopsis by Daniel Wexler in The Book of Golfers, Tillinghast was poorly educated and ran a street gang, dropped out of school and skipped college. Despite this, Tillinghast also made a significant contribution to the golfer’s library with his fictional writing.
Cobble Valley Golf Yarns and Other Sketches was written in 1915 and was published by Philadelphia Printing. As Tillinghast describes in the introduction to Cobble Valley Yarns: “Somewhere, nestled among the hills of Everywhere, is Homesburg, and there, too, is the golf course of Cobble Valley. The Links differ from others, just as they all do, but, after all, the people there are very like those of every other section. In the stories contained in this volume the author has attempted an analysis of human nature.”
The book contains nineteen short stories about golf. Although Tillinghast’s writing would never be confused with that of P.G. Wodehouse, the book is relatively scarce and is worth between $300-$500 in good condition.
The Mutt and other Golf Yarns (A New Cobble Valley Series), was privately printed in two editions in 1925. The standard trade edition was published with a red cloth cover. While this edition was not issued with the author’s signature, Tillinghast signed many copies. A standard trade edition is worth a couple of hundred dollars. Copies of either Cobble Valley or The Mutt signed by Tillinghast increase the value by about $1,000.
The Mutt was also published in a limited edition of 250 copies, hand-numbered and signed by Tillinghast. This book was produced in a much nicer green embossed binding. This version of the book is extremely rare and sells for between $5,000 and $7,500.
Planning a Golf Course was published circa 1917 and is by far the rarest Tillinghast publication. It is essentially a prospectus for his golf course design firm and is 24 pages and soft cover, measuring 8 ½ inches x 3 ½ inches. It contains illustrations from drawings. The only copy seen at auction in the last twenty years sold for an eye-popping $14,400 earlier this year.
It’s really too bad that Tillinghast didn’t do more non-fiction writing along the lines of Robert Hunter’s The Links or Alister Mackenzie’s Golf Architecture. As one of the undisputed great architects of the game, it would have been nice to have learned more about his thought process regarding design.