The Value of History
The Donald Ross Initiative
The Value of History focuses on maximizing the advantage that the City has in the proper stewardship of the Club’s most valuable asset, the historic 1925 Donald Ross Course.
Donald Ross described the ideal courses as, “one that presents a test of golf for the everyday golfer and the first class player. A properly designed course can take care of every class of golfer. My aim is to bring out of the player the best golf that is in him. It will be difficult to negotiate some holes, but that is what golf is for. It is a mental test and an eye test. The hazards and bunkers are placed so as to force a man to use judgment and to exercise mental control in making the correct shot.”
The Ross Course at Bobby Jones Golf Club
The Ross Course at Bobby Jones Golf Club restores the historic 1925 Ross Design Intent, in accordance with documentation from the Givens Memorial Library's Tufts Archives, Pinehurst, North Carolina and with the Restoration Guidelines of the Donald Ross Society.
The CARD below shows proposed restored holes, with current White Tees and proposed restored Donald Ross yardages shown, along with Donald Ross' original 1925 handwritten Field Notes in quotations.
"General Specifications Sarasota Municipal Course
Tees: Build large irregular shaped tees that can be mowed with fairway mower; to be raised only enough to give a distinct view of any natural or artificial hazards.
Grading: All grading where not otherwise specified should be with long easy slopes so that the entire work can be mowed by fairway mower reaper or at least a hand mower.
Old Canal: Crossing Nos 2 – 4 – 5 – 7 holes to be graded easily making long grass swales; if necessary underpipe same for drainage.
Surface Drainage: Wherever necessary at the discretion of the supervisor large grass swales can be meandered thru the property to provide surface drainage and also material for grading.
Planting & Woods: Present wood lines as shown on plan and planting areas are shown in the customary manner." - DJR
THE FRONT NINE Formerly the Back Nine of the British Course at Bobby Jones Golf Club
Hole # 1 British WHITE Tee 339 / PAR 4 1925 ROSS Tee 415 / PAR 4
"Hole I: 1, 2, 3 Mounds: Large rough mounds similar to sand dunes from 4 to 6 ft high planted with wire grass. Green: Body of green raised with 2 to 2-1/2 ft fall from left rear corner to right front corner. Large undulating mound graded very easily on all sides. Small sand pit 4 on left from corner in face of low mound blending into green mounds not over 4 ft. above ground level." - DJR
Hole # 2 British WHITE Tee 383 / PAR 4 1925 ROSS Tee 430 / PAR 4
"Hole II: No. 1: 2 tees 50’ + 30’. Large undulating mounds graded easily so they can be mowed. 2 to 4 ft. high. No. 2: Large undulating mounds graded easily with sand pocket in its face mounds from 2 to 4 ft. high. Green: Large undulating green surrounded by large undulating mounds A, B, C graded easily on all sides so they can be mowed. Fall of 2 ft. from rear to front of green." - DJR
Hole # 3 British WHITE Tee 185 / PAR 3 1925 ROSS Tee 174 / PAR 3
"Hole III: No 1, 2: Undulating mounds from 3’ to 5’ high graded so they can be mowed. Small nob-bunker in face of No. 2 & No. 3. Green: Built on a two terrace effect. Rear terrace 1 ft above level of front terrace. Total fall from rear to front is 3 ft. No 3: Undulating mound from 3’ to 5’ high graded so it can be mowed. Small nob-bunker in face. No. 4: Large undulating mound from 4 to 6 ft high blending well off into green." - DJR
Hole # 4 British WHITE Tee 455 / PAR 5 1925 ROSS Tee 372 / PAR 4
"Hole IV: Nos 1, 2: Undulating mounds from 3 to 5 ft. high graded so as to be mowed, with sand pockets in the faces. Green: Fall of 1-1/2 ft from rear to front. Undulating mounds surrounding sides and rear of green from 2 to 3 ft high blending well into greens surface" - DJR
Hole # 5 British WHITE Tee 471 / PAR 5 1925 ROSS Tee 473 / PAR 5
"Hole V: Nos 1, 2: Large undulating mounds from 3’ to 5 ft high graded easily so can be mowed. Green: Long narrow green built up 4 ft at rear and 1’-6” at front forming shallow sand pits 3, 4 right and left sides. Remainder of grading blended off into surrounding land." - DJR
Hole # 6 British WHITE Tee 386 / PAR 4 1925 ROSS Tee 386 / PAR 4
"Hole VI: No. 1: Series of mounds and hollows with sand pockets. No. 2: Large rough dune mound from 4 to 6’ high planted with wire grass. No. 3: Large rolling undulations from 1 to 3’ high, graded so can be mowed. Green: Built up 1 ft at front – 3 ft at rear; undulating mounds surrounding green from 3’ to 5’ high blending off on all sides – on lip – from corner of green a pot bunker (4) 4’ deep." - DJR
Hole # 7 British WHITE Tee 325 / PAR 4 1925 ROSS Tee 310 / PAR 4
"Hole VII: No. 1: Large undulating mound from 2 to 3 ft high, with sand pockets in the face. No. 2: Large undulating mound 3’ to 5’ high. Green: 60’ wide + 80’ long, built up 2 ft on front – 3 ft on rear forming sand pockets 3, 4, 5, 6 in front and sides. Rest of grading blending easily into surrounding grade. Between bunkers 3 & 4 leave an opening of 20’." - DJR
Hole # 8 British WHITE Tee 146 / PAR 3 1925 ROSS Tee 191 / PAR 4
"Hole VIII: No. 1: Large area of undulating mounds from 2 to 4 ft. high, graded so as to be mowed. Green: Graded with a 2 ft. fall from rear to front and a slight fall from left to right. Undulating mound on right side from 2 to 4 ft high with sand pit (3) in face, graded easily on all sides. No. 2: Large sand dune mound planted with wire grass – sand pocket in face of it." - DJR
Hole # 9 British WHITE Tee 381 / PAR 4 1925 ROSS Tee 405 / PAR 4
"Hole IX: No. 1, 2-4: Large undulating mounds from 3 to 5’ high – graded so as to be mowed. Pot bunkers in face of No. 1 & 4. No. 3: Large rough sand dune mound planted with wire grass from 4 to 6 ft high blending off into fairway. Green: The general green built up 3 ft at center with fall on all sides of about 6 inches to edge of putting surface, from there a fall of 1 to 15 to the surrounding ground. No. 5 bunker 4’-6’ deep faced with a flar [sic] mound." - DJR
OUT British WHITE Tees 3071 / PAR 36 1925 ROSS Tees 3156 / PAR 35
THE BACK NINE Formerly the Back Nine of the American Course at Bobby Jones Golf Club
Hole # 10 British WHITE Tee 268 / PAR 4 1925 ROSS Tee 340 / PAR 4
"Hole X: Nos 1, 2: Two large undulating mounds from 1 to 3’ high - graded so as to be mowed. Green: Small green built with slight terrace effect. Left terrace 1 ft above right. Entire green to have a 2 ft pitch to the front. 3, 4 Pot bunkers 4’ deep. 5: Rough mounds between 10 & 18 fairways 3 to 5’ high." - DJR
Hole # 11 British WHITE Tee 454 / PAR 5 1925 ROSS Tee 530 / PAR 5
"Hole XI: Nos 1, 2: Large sand dune mounds from 4 to 6 ft. high with sand pockets in the face. No 3, 4: Undulating mounds from 2 to 4 ft high with sand pockets in faces. Green: Small green with 2 undulating mounds on each side from 2 to 4’ high. Green to have a fall of 1 ft from rear to front. No. 5 & 6 pot bunkers in face of mounds." - DJR
Hole # 12 British WHITE Tee 271 / PAR 4 1925 ROSS Tee 342 / PAR 4
"Hole XII: No 1: Undulating mound from 2 to 4’ high with sanded faces. Green: Built up 2’at the front – 3‘ at the rear. Mound on left front from 2 to 4’ high. Sand pockets 2 & 3 in front of green. Rest of grading to blend off into surrounding land." - DJR
Hole # 13 British WHITE Tee 122 / PAR 3 1925 ROSS Tee 148 / PAR 3
"Hole XIII: Green: Built up 3’ at front and 5’ at rear – Slight terrace effect. Terrace at left corner 6” below body of green. Terrace effect across front, raise the sides and rear having a slight undulating effect. Long slopes on all sides. Sand pockets 1, 2, 3 on left & right front corner and at rear at edge of canal." - DJR
Hole # 14 British WHITE Tee 357 / PAR 4 1925 ROSS Tee 410 / PAR 4
"Hole XIV: Nos 1, 2: Large rough sand dune mounds from 4 to 6’ high planted with wire grass. No 3: Pot bunkers in face of mounds. Green: Built of low undulating mounds on sides, rear and across the center. Drainage off the left side." - DJR
Hole # 15 British WHITE Tee 381 / PAR 4 1925 ROSS Tee 443 / PAR 4
"Hole XV: No 1: Large sand dune mounds from 3 to 5’ high planted with wire grass. Green: To have a 2’ pitch from rear to front. Undulating sides & rear, 2 to 3’ high." - DJR
Hole # 16 British WHITE Tee 114 / PAR 3 1925 ROSS Tee 185 / PAR 3
"Hole XVI: No. 1: Large sand dune mounds from 4’ to 6’ high planted with wire grass. Green: With 2 large undulating mounds (2, 3) one on each side from 2’ to 5’ high blended well off on all sides – fall of 3 ft from rear to front – No. 4 pot bunker in face of mound finished 4’ deep." - DJR
Hole # 17 British WHITE Tee 294 / PAR 4 1925 ROSS Tee 274 / PAR 4
"Hole XVII: Green: Small built up 3’ at front – 5’ at rear forming sand pits 3, 4, 5 in front, sides & rear. No. 1, 2: Mounds 3’ to 5’ high with sands pits in the face of them." - DJR
Hole # 18 British WHITE Tee 303 / PAR 4 1925 ROSS Tee 412 / PAR 4
"Hole XVIII: No.1: Large undulating mounds from 2’ to 4’ high graded so as to be mowed. No. 2: Mounds 3-5’ high with sand pits in the faces of them. Nos. 3 & 4: Bunker with mounded face. Green: With slight fall form left to right and a general fall of 1’-6” from left rear to right front. Undulating mounds from 3 to 5’ in height blending well off into green and surrounding land." - DJR
IN British WHITE Tees 2564 / PAR 35 1925 ROSS Tees 3084 / PAR 35
PAR 71 British WHITE Tees 5635 1925 ROSS Tees 6240 PAR 70
Donald Ross Field Notes courtesy of The Tufts Archives, Givens Memorial Library, Pinehurst NC.
Initiatives in Initiatives
Within the Donald Ross Initiative, in addition to the primary objective of the restoration of the historic Ross Design Intent, is the intent to provide "Zinger Tees" to select Ross holes as appropriate. Zinger Tees, as strategically placed by Paul Azinger, seek to add modern competitive length to the classic Ross Course, in order to attract the full spectrum of golfing participants as well as to present The Ross Course at Bobby Jones Golf Club for consideration as a host site for top regional competitive tournaments and events.
Within and integral to the Donald Ross Initiative is the intent to provide enhanced opportunities for participation and accessibility in golf by players of all abilities and disabilities, including access to all areas of play, and in partnership with organizations dedicated to accessibility for the disabled and in particular, working with the Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Club Veterans Committee, for disabled American veterans of military service.
The classic golf courses of the 1920s were designed generally without gender too much in mind, and certainly without contemplation of the distance-defining equipment advances inherent in today's game.
Early competitive golf was most often scored according to Match Play wherein "Par" is irrelevant, as one was measured only against one's opponent's score rather than against the golf course. In today's competitive game, Medal Play (more commonly referred to as "Stroke Play") is predominant and does more closely measure the player as compared to the golf course score of what Bobby Jones called "Old Man Par".
With regard to gender, women and men would generally play from the same tees, and when "Par" was introduced, the Par for Men and Women would be adjusted to correspond to course conditions. Ladies Par at Bobby Jones Golf Club in its first decades was 81.
As more women entered the game, golf courses responded by adding "Ladies' Tees" (and later, forward "Senior Tees"), but without much regard for golf strategy, the rules of the game, aesthetics, social engagement, excitement and fun. The introduction of scientific measurements such as "swing speed" were slow to be understood and more even slowly to be incorporated into golf course design.
Today's golf course needs to respect and respond to the modern player and what modern science tells us, while providing a playing experience that enhances all player's engagement with the game and with each other.
Most golf courses today, including those at Bobby Jones Golf Club, define one set of tees as "Ladies", and paint them red. But this works against some basic observations of how today's courses work against today's game:
1) Red "Ladies' Tees" present an unnecessary social barrier to men and women who wish to play together.
2) Red "Ladies' Tees" present an unnecessary limitation to those women who wish to play other tees. Women want and deserve to be challenged with strategic options in play just as much as men, and today's competitive woman golfers have advanced in recent decades at least as much as their male counterparts.
3) Tees need to be user-friendly to golfers of each gender and all ages who wish to play together, so women may play with spouses, boyfriends and opposite gender playing partners; grandfathers may play with daughters and granddaughters; and all can do so within the handicap system and the Rules of Golf.
4) Distances that golfers propel the ball actually have nothing to do with gender and everything to do with swing speed.
Integral to the restoration of The Ross Course at Bobby Jones Golf Club are Gender Neutral Tees, in three new and important ways.
1) The new "back tees" playing at the greatest competitive distance will be defined as the "Zinger Tees" and the Zinger Tees will be RED.
2) Tees will be placed in accordance with the carry distance required to place a well-struck ball at a place in the fairway to provide clear paths or options of approach to the target. These dimensions will be designed with respect to the swing speed generated by a golfer and without specific regard to gender. Golf professionals will encourage players to measure and know their individual swing speeds. Players may use this knowledge to select tees that provide the greatest challenge or advantage, the quickest round or the most fun.
3) ALL tees will be provided with official USGA handicap holes, course and slope ratings for both men and women, so either gender may play on any tee and adjust fairly for handicap in matches with their playing partners of any gender and in recording their scores according to the Rules of Golf.
4) Forward FAMILY tees will offer superior strategic options and flexibility within an innovative design that allows for easier play by different genders and a wide range of ages playing together.
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