About the Designer
Donald J. Ross
Biography by Bradley S. Klein
Transplanted Scotsman Donald Ross transformed the American sports landscape in the first half of this century. At his death in 1948, he left behind a legacy of 413 courses, including such gems as Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina, Seminole in Florida, and the site of the 1996 U.S. Open, Oakland Hills outside Detroit. Over 100 U.S. national championships have been played on his designs. Small wonder his name still resonates among the game's aficionados.
Ross was born in 1872 in the north Scottish coastal town of Dornoch. There on crumpled dunes land, he grew up playing one of the world's purest links, Royal Dornoch. As a young man he took up "the keeping of the green." After a year of apprenticeship at St. Andrews under the tutelage of 4-time British Open champion "Old" Tom Morris, he returned to his native Dornoch. In those days, there was no rigid division of labor for golf professionals, so Ross became adept not only at maintaining the grounds but also as a player and club maker.
He was of common stock, making an adequate if unspectacular living. But all that changed when an American professor on golf pilgrimage to the sport's holy land invited him to come to the New World to help spread the game's gospel. Ross arrived in 1899 to build and run the Oakley Golf Club in the Boston area. The next year, he landed an assignment with the Tufts family on a property in North Carolina's sand hills called Pinehurst.
During his summers, Ross started designing and building courses throughout New England. Eventually, his practice spread into the Midwest and down the Southeast coast. In association with design assistants J.B. McGovern and Walter Hatch, Ross maintained a summer office in Little Compton, Rhode Island and satellite offices in North Amherst, Massachusetts, and Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.
Bradley S. Klein is the author of the award winning biography: "Discovering Donald Ross" published by Sleeping Bear Press.