Because his golf courses still appeal to the highest common denominator, the golfer who seeks fun and enjoyment. As the pendulum shifts away from the excessive and exceedingly difficult designs of the past few decades, Donald Ross' work is more than relevant today. In fact, a Donald Ross golf course should be the prototype for golf in the 21st century, which makes the preservation and restoration of his work so crucial.
“Make your holes fit your course. No other way can be as satisfactory.” That simple thought from Ross sums up what makes his creations so special. Donald Ross strove for originality in all his work and knew that originality came primarily from utilizing the lay of the land to its utmost potential. How else can one maintain that unique quality within such a long list of works? As each piece of property is original to the world, so too each Donald Ross course is original to the needs of its location.
The more Donald Ross golf courses one plays, the more this originality and variety in design precludes the categorization of his work into tight confines. Surely many are familiar with his more famous layouts, such as Seminole or Pinehurst No. 2, yet the many other courses that are more accessible to the everyday golfer truly demonstrate Donald Ross' unique place in golf history.
He was a great advocate of public access golf, and knew that success lay in the universal appeal of the game to players at all levels. His designs reflected those tenets very well by leaving the lavishness to others and simply revealing the attributes of the ground itself in each golf hole, being sure to give the golfer myriad options.
Donald Ross weaved rhythm into his designs: long holes followed by short ones, left-leaning holes followed by right-leaners, or a bunker to carry followed by one to avoid altogether. Sadly all this artistry can easily be destroyed over time by exuberant renovations in the name of “modernization.” That is why it is vital to preserve his works, allowing golfers not only the opportunity to enjoy the simplicity of his designs, but also the realization that a round of golf can be a round of pure pleasure.
As one who has restored nine Ross courses in NC, and GA, it is my responsibility to preserve the design intent of his courses. That charge, though, is an easy responsibility to embrace because maintaining the relevance of a Donald Ross golf course isn't just good for golf history, it’s good for the sport as well. As you utilize Paul and B.J. Dunn’s impressive reference to Mr. Ross’ work, know that, like Ross himself, the Dunns are pragmatists who will not steer you in a direction away from anything other than a fantastic Ross experience. And that’s good for the game of golf.
Golf course architect Richard Mandell
on Donald Ross
Why would one want to play a golf course designed by Donald Ross, whose earliest architecture dates back to 1900?
Golf Course Architect
The 6th Hole at Bacon Park Golf Course, Savannah, GA
as restored by Richard Mandell