Friday, December 23, 2011

Golf Course Architect Sets Stage

Donald Ross vision is setting for a remarkable day in 2003

Eight years ago I had the pleasure of visiting the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. Lindsey was in college and Ben in High School at the time, but the Winter break created a window of opportunity for such a trip. Lynn and I were looking forward to some quality time as a family.

One day, we scheduled an early brunch/lunch so my son Ben and I could play the recently renovated Donald Ross Course there. Lynn and Lindsey were planning to do some sight seeing when Curly, our waiter tell us his life story. Lynn is always willing to encourage such behavior. Yeah, yeah, Curly relocated from Atlanta where he ran a restaurant and is originally from Brooklyn and blah blah blah…..and ohhh no…another waitress is drawn into the conversation because she’s from New Jersey. (Who cares? Forgive me – it’s fun to talk to people but I was hoping we’d talk to each other and catch up with what was important to the individuals in our little family unit. Call me crazy. I guess that just isn’t gonna happen on my timetable.)

Ben is getting a head cold and is sniffling. I am grateful that he’s still willing to slug it out on the golf course with me. He’s such a natural. I wish he’d play more. I just love spending time with him on a golf course. He demonstrates such confidence and poise. He insists it’s because he doesn’t really care. I know it’s because he is too cool and would hate to admit it is fun doing something – even if you aren’t the very best at it.

In the pro-shop at Grove Park Inn’s course I learn that a guy in the group behind us has scored a hole-in-one. I buy him a beer – sight unseen. Later the guy thanks me. I am happy for the guy. Ben and I have hit at least 8 balls at that short part three and haven’t even come close to the flagstick.

What a great place the Grove Park Inn is. And now I learn that it actually has a place in the history of golf. I noted earlier the picture of Bobby Jones, the golf great from the 20’s and 30’s – my hero – on the wall of celebrity guests. I have to take a picture of the Donald Ross statue and plaque in front of the pro shop.

Here’s what the plaque says:

“Golf is a gentleman’s game…as long as we keep golf a game of honor we are on the right road.”
-Donald J. Ross

Donald Ross, a founder of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, was both a playing and teaching golf professional. As an accomplished tournament player, Donald Ross won two Massachusetts Opens, placed eight in the 1910 British Open at St. Andrews, and competed in seven U.S. Opens, finishing in the top ten four times.

However, by 1910 Donald Ross had made golf course architecture his primary occupation. Within ten years, he had become the first superstar of American golf. No architects in his day had more influence on his craft. Ross transformed golf design into an art form and the profession into one for an artist.

In 1926, Ross redesigned Grove Park Inn's golf course, creating a beautiful challenge for all levels of Players. In 2002, they completed a golf course renovation project, restoring the original Ross vision to his mountain gem at The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville, North Carolina.

Donald Ross had a passion and a dream and pursued it until he was the very best in his class. On a given day in 2003 a father and son enjoyed a little time together and a guy gets a hole-in-one. Thank you Mr. Ross for setting the stage for that terrific day.

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