Edward Willis Carman: A Golf Pro’s Journey from Caddie to Course Builder

Owing a Golf Course Fits him to a TEE-Ed Carman

Edward Willis Carman was a true pioneer in the world of golf. He was born and raised in Fairton, New Jersey, and his journey began as a young caddie at the esteemed Cohanzick Country Club. Little did he know that his humble beginnings would pave the way for a lifetime of remarkable achievements and indelible contributions to the sport he loved.

Ed Carman at Cohanzick Country Club 1946
Ed Carman at Cohanzick Country Club 1946

As a young boy growing up in Fairton, New Jersey, Ed Carman discovered his love for golf at the Cohanzick Country Club. It was there Carman’s passion for the game of golf was further ignited when his father presented him with his first set of golf clubs. This treasured gift, a meager collection of clubs would become the foundation of his extraordinary career. With dedication and practice Carman honed his skills on the course, particularly excelling with his 5, 7, and 9 irons. As he grew older, he expanded his club collection and became one of the finest players at Cohanzick before graduating from high school.

His dedication and tireless practice on the Cohanzick practice grounds soon transformed him into one of the club’s finest players, catching the attention of the golfing community.

As a teenager, Carman ventured to Philadelphia to witness the PGA Tournaments, studying and emulating the techniques of golfing legends like Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan. Inspired by their skill and expertise, Carman honed his own game, mastering the art of swinging a golf club and unraveling the intricacies of the sport.

With a strong desire to pursue golf professionally, Ed Carman immersed himself in the game. He attended PGA Tournaments in Philadelphia during the 1940s, closely observing legends like Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan. By studying their techniques and incorporating their strategies into his own game, Carman quickly became a skilled player and one of the top talents at Cohanzick.

At the age of 19, he achieved a remarkable feat, becoming the youngest golf professional in the state of New Jersey at the very club where his journey began. Carman not only managed the business and taught lessons but also prepared for the spring season during winters. He shared his knowledge by imparting lessons to aspiring golfers. Carman’s infectious enthusiasm and genuine personality left a lasting impression on all who crossed his path, fostering meaningful relationships with esteemed PGA professionals like Charlie Lepre, Bruce Coltart, Stan Dudas, and future PGA President Leo Fraser.

Related: The Art of Golf Course Tee Box Design

While Carman dreamt of pursuing a career as a professional golfer, he encountered challenges on the course, battling a persistent snap hook and inconsistent putting. Undeterred, he shifted his focus to the business side of golf, exploring construction and design. In 1958, he was appointed as the first Golf Professional at a newly opened and popular, Buena Vista Country Club, where he demonstrated his astute business acumen by introducing golf carts, enhancing the club’s revenue through increased rounds played.

Sam Snead (right) first appeared at Buena Vista Country Club on July 12, 1959, to play in an exhibition golf match for the benefit of the Newcomb Hospital Building Fund. Watching Snead address the ball is (from left to right) host pro Ed Carman, former Canadian Open Champion and noted golf course architect George Fazio, U.S. Walker Cup star Bill Hyndman III and BVCC golf committee chairman Dr. Herbert Anastor.
Sam Snead (right) first appeared at Buena Vista Country Club on July 12, 1959, to play in an exhibition golf match for the benefit of the Newcomb Hospital Building Fund. Watching Snead address the ball is (from left to right) host pro Ed Carman, former Canadian Open Champion and noted golf course architect George Fazio, U.S. Walker Cup star Bill Hyndman III and BVCC golf committee chairman Dr. Herbert Anastor.

He organized exhibitions featuring renowned players like Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen, which further elevated Buena Vista’s reputation. Carman’s ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit were further exemplified when he invited golfing legends such as Sam Snead, Bobby Thompson, and Gene Sarazen to Buena Vista for an exhibition match, captivating both players and spectators alike. Yet, his ambitions were boundless, and in 1962, he resigned from Buena Vista to pursue his ultimate vision – the construction of his own golf course.

Centerton Country Club
Centerton Country Club

Carman’s passion for course design led him to purchase land located in Centerton NJ. Construction began in 1962. He dedicated himself to clearing trees and stumps, meticulously crafting the exceptional layout of what would become the renowned Centerton Country Club, In May of 1964 the club opened its doors delighting golfers with the exquisite course. and in time, gaining. a reputation for its exceptional dining experiences, including a renowned Sunday buffet. Centerton quickly became a beloved destination for golf enthusiasts

Carman’s pursuit of excellence extended beyond golf. He ventured into the restaurant business, innovating with “The Wheel,” a system designed to serve hundreds of hot dishes within minutes. Centerton Country Club became synonymous with remarkable banquets and weddings, further solidifying Carman’s legacy as a visionary in the industry.


In the late 1970s, Carman introduced another game-changing creation: “The Marker,” a unique golf ball top that resisted mowing damage and allowed golfers worldwide to gauge yardages for approach shots with precision. The Marker’s success propelled Carman’s reach across the globe, generating over a million dollars in sales.

In 1992, Carman sold Centerton Country Club, embarking on a new chapter of his illustrious career. He acquired 200 acres of wooded land adjacent to his former club, and from 1997 to 2000, he meticulously crafted the Running Deer Golf Club. This project showcased Carman’s maturity as a course designer and his expertise in clubhouse construction. Running Deer became a testament to his unwavering dedication, providing countless golfers with endless joy and camaraderie.

Edward Willis Carman was a man of ambition, determination, and persistence. From his humble beginnings as a caddie to his transformation into a golfing legend and visionary, he embodied the spirit of a self-made man. His remarkable lifetime achievements, marked by the creation of two extraordinary golf courses and innovative engineering, continue to enrich the lives of countless individuals today and will resonate for generations to come.

As we bid farewell to this extraordinary individual, let us remember Edward Willis Carman for his unwavering passion, unwavering dedication, and unwavering love for the game of golf. His legacy will forever be etched in the annals of golf history, inspiring generations of golfers to pursue their dreams and embrace the spirit of ambition. Farewell, Edward Willis Carman, a true legend among us.

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