Donald Ross is considered one of the major forces in the history of American golf course architecture. Born and raised in Dornoch, Scotland, he learned several different golfing skills, including greenkeeper, club maker, pro, and architect. In 1889, Ross would take his talents to the United States, accepting a position as a pro-greenkeeper at Oakley Country Club near Boston. After accepting the position, Ross redesigned the golf club, which displayed his ability as a golf course architect. Ross would be approached by the Tuft family and persuaded him to become the winter professional at the golf course they were building in Pinehurst, N.C., which is now known as Pinehurst Resort.
The planning and remodeling work at the Pinehurst golf complex brought Ross national fame and his services were being requested all throughout the United States. From 1912 to 1948, Ross was considered to be America’s best-known and most active architect. By 1925, Ross had over 3,000 employees working for him on the construction process of his golf courses.
Ross’ design philosophy incorporated much of what he saw when he grew up in Scotland. His courses tended to have a links touch to them and a natural feel. Ross was also known for sculpting complex green surfaces that required a premium on short recovery shots.
Ross played a major role in the formation of ASGCA and hosted the first ever Annual Meeting at Pinehurst in 1947. He also served as honorary ASGCA President, working alongside the first ASGCA President, Robert Bruce Harris, the same year. Ross’ legacy in American golf will forever be remembered and cherished by many.