Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Donald Ross at Cohasset (Mass.) Golf Club

This past summer, I was retained by Cohasset Golf Club to write a brief history of the golf course for its website, as sort of a way to help members appreciate what they have in their Donald Ross-designed layout, and to educate prospective members about the current course that opened in 1920 and was renovated by Ron Prichard in 2000. In 2009-2010 the club undertook indepth water remediation project with Agri-Scape Golf Course Construction doing the work that affected three holes.

The Donald Ross Society has posted the piece on their website and you can read it here in its entirety.

Cohasset has quite a history, some of which remains to be rediscovered. Considered a summer club for wealthy Bostonians, the first holes were laid out by Willie Campbell in 1898. Four years earlier he had done the same at The Country Club in Brookline.

(A copy of the Cohasset ledger that records the fee paid Campbell is shown here.)

Sometime after that, Donald Ross became associated with Cohasset but the year can not be pinned down. Ross emigrated to the United States and Oakley Country Club in 1899. Oakley, located in Watertown, Mass., is about 25 miles from Cohasset.

In 1920, Cohasset was expanding from nine to 18 holes and a letter to the members informing them of the project, reminded them that Ross, who was overseeing the expansion, had a long association with the club.

The letter reads, in part, that Cohasset, “has engaged the services of Donald Ross, golf architect, who laid out the original course of the Club and who has been consulted on all improvements which we have made. Mr. Ross has gone over the ground several times very carefully, and has considered a golf course from the point of view of 18 holes.”

The letter never mentions what year Ross first was hired to route the "original course," nor do any of the other remaining documents that have been preserved. A number were destroyed in a clubhouse fire.

The layout is very much the same as Ross left except for a few changes including the relocation of the first tee (for unknown reasons), the rebuilding of the 12th green by Al Zikorus, ostensibly to soften the severe back-t0-front tilt, and the relocation of the 17th green by a long-ago green chairman supposedly to thwart a rival from driving the putting surface.

(Ledger item copyright Cohasset Golf Club.)

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