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Donald Ross Golf Courses

from the Experts in Golf Holidays

⏱ 6 min read

Pinehurst Resort 2

The Michelangelo of golf

Founding member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, Donald Ross was responsible for over 400 projects around the world. His designs gave the player multiple choices around the course, a short route often fraught with danger accompanied by a longer but comfortable option.

Jack Nicklaus once said that "a Donald Ross designed golf course leads a player towards positive thinking".

Donald Ross Facts

Name Donald James Ross
Born 23 Nov, 1872
Died 26 Apr, 1948
Nickname The Michelangelo of golf
Nationality Scottish

Donald Ross at Pinehurst

Donald Ross would eventually design and rebuild four courses at the Pinehurst resort (No.1 to No.4) but he gave the No. 2 layout his most love and attention.

Ross spent more time tweaking this layout than any other of his designs, mainly due to the fact Alister MacKenzie was chosen ahead of him to design Augusta. He wanted to make No.2 the top golf course in the area and there are many that believe he succeeded.

Having already played host to a PGA Championship, a Ryder Cup and three U.S. Opens his masterpiece will return to the spotlight in 2024 when it hosts the U.S. Open for a fourth time.

Pinehurst No.1
Par: 70 | Year Opened: 1898

Pinehurst No.2
Par: 70 | Year Opened: 1907

Pinehurst No.3
Par: 68 | Year Opened: 1910

Pinehurst No.4
Par: 72 | Year Opened: 1919

About Donald Ross

Donald Ross is considered to be one of the very best golf course architects the world has ever seen. His career includes the likes of Old Tom Morris, Royal Dornoch and Pinehurst Resort and is one of the founding fathers of the game which saw him enter the World Golf Hall of Game in 1977.

Ross started his golfing career working with Old Tom Morris at St Andrews in 1893, he moved onto the famed Carnoustie Golf Links before going to Royal Dornoch Golf Club where he was not only the Professional but also club maker and green keeper.

Ross then headed onto the United States where he continued his golfing career as a Professional, working at a number of different golf clubs and playing in Major golf events with a best of 5th in The US Open and tied 8th in The Open. Ross' design eye was evident with him being enlisted to alter the courses he was professional at and as his work became more and more well-known he began to emark on creations from scratch.

With over 400 golf courses to his name, Ross was the United States first professional golf course architect and enabled the game to spread far and wide across what is now the largest golf playing nation in the world. Many of his designs feature within the World's Top 100 Golf Courses and have hosted US Open, Ryder Cup, US Amateur and PGA Tour events.

Donald Ross' most famous golf course designs include Pinehurst Number 2 which is regarded as the Home of American Golf, Seminole Golf Club which was a favourite of Ben Hogan as well as Oak Hill Country Club where Europe claimed The 1995 Ryder Cup. His designs are enjoyed across the United States, from Alabama to Wisconsin as well as Canada.

Golfers playing a Donald Ross are sure to see similarities throughout with very little earth moving to create the course. It is with his green complexes that form his calling card.

The sight of the Ross double plateau is one the is seen across almost all of his golf courses while the simple, yet effective turtleback green was created to funnel shots away from the flag. The punchbowl green was another that Ross deployed on his designs to create a stern test that challenged accuracy and ball striking on the approach.

Recommended Donald Ross Golf Courses

We have included Royal Dornoch below because Donald Ross was the "Keeper of the Greens" there and also the club's first Professional but as far as we know he did not play a role in the design of the layout.

A few years after completing his Pinehurst masterpiece Ross constructed Mid Pines in 1921 and on the other side of the street the award-winning Pine Needles in 1927. Another noteworthy Ross layout in North Carolina is Southern Pines which he extended to a full 18 hole course in the early part of the 20th century. There is a fantastic Ross layout in Miami, The Biltmore, which has had a comprehensive restoration completed by Brian Silva from original routing plans, aerial photos and notes from the original architect.

Further west, in Colorado, is the 36 hole layout of The Broadmoor Resort which consists of a combination of original Ross designs with updates from Robert Trent Jones. As well as designing numerous courses in the United States Ross also ventured into Canada, extending the 9 hole layout in Banff Springs to an 18-hole course in 1924.

What makes a Donald Ross golf course

• Greenside bunkers often placed 15 to 20 yards before the green.
• Greenside bunkers have concave floors, so that shots landing in bunkers will settle near the center instead of under the face.
• Fairway bunkers are placed on the side of the fairway that affords the best approach to the green.
• Design on sandy soil will have greens surrounded by mounds & hollows, requiring imaginative chips.
• Wide fairways offering one prime location for the best angle of approach.
• Greens are small and shaped like inverted saucers.
• Switchbacks - opposing shot shapes are preferred off the tee and the approach to the green
• A cross hazard of either a creek or bunkers, allowing players to choose how aggressive to be.

Tour Championship at East Lake

East Lake Golf Club has been the permanent home of the Tour Championship since 2004 having first visited the club in 1998.

Established in 1904, East Lake was originally designed by Tom Bendelow but in 1913 the course was completely reworked by Donald Ross, whose design is what the tournament is played on today.

Attend the Tour Championship with Your Golf Travel by giving our Tournament Experts a call on 0800 043 6644

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East Lake Golf Club
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