As founding member and honorary president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, Donald Ross was one of the foremost architects in his field. He designed a total of 413 courses all over the United States, on which over 100 U.S. National Championships have been played.
Ross was born in 1872 in Dornach, Scotland, where he first became interested in the maintenance of golf courses and the making of golf clubs. In 1899 an American professor invited him to America to build his first course in Boston at Oakley Golf Club. Ross was then asked to build a course in Pinehurst, North Carolina, where he then chose to reside for much of the remainder of his life. His reputation grew quickly, and he began designing more courses — first in New England, then spreading out to the Midwest and the Southeast coast.
As he became increasingly well-known for his designs, Ross continued to work out of his cabin in Pinehurst and may never have gotten to see up to one-third of his courses as long-distance travel was so difficult to arrange.
Ross included simply-worded instructions for the construction of his courses along with his blueprints.
Ross offered his famous “test”: The test should call for long and accurate tee shots, accurate iron play, precise handling of the short game and consistent putting. These activities should be called for in a proportion that will not permit excellence in any one department to largely offset deficiencies in any other. Donald Ross’ courses are known for being very well planned out, with little walking distance between a green and the next tee.
His designs also included plentiful hazards that would punish the overly confident golfer. Many of these have, unfortunately been taken out of play over the past years to make for easier course maintenance or to make a course more playable. While many of his original courses have deteriorated over time, or have been redesigned, Metacomet has maintained the integrity of the Ross designed course as much as possible.