Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Goodwin Park (Hartford, Conn.) Is a Robert Ross Design

According to the "Architects of Golf," it was Everett Pyle that renovated the Goodwin Park Golf Course in the south end of Hartford, Conn. into its current incarnation.

It makes sense that a superintendent of parks, who built Triggs Memorial Golf Course in Providence, R.I. for Donald Ross, would be given such a job, but he was not.

While researching Connecticut architect Robert J. Ross (no relation to Donald Ross), I discovered that it was R.J. Ross who created the Goodwin that exists to day and which opened for play, on June 5, 1937.

W.J. Lee in the June 6, 1937 Hartford Courant wrote:

"With more than 80 players from all over the district participating in official foursomes, the new 18 hole municipal course at Goodwin Park was formally opened yesterday.

"Designed by R.J. Ross, assistant city engineer who has made golf course architecture an avocation and built by WPA labor under the supervision of the Parks Department, the new course had its baptism under a fire of shots that produced scores all the way from 68 to the 'high hundreds.'

"With Everett Pyle in personal charge of the course construction, the new layout has been fashioned from the old second nine and park property heretofore never used for golf. While on the short side, the course is interesting and varied with many holes that make up in tightness what they lack in yardage."

Lee added, that Alderman Saul Seldman, representing Mayor Spellacy, "drove off the first ball, a straight-flying shot that split the fairway."

Eddie Burke, a pro from Naugatuck, shot a 32-36-68 to beat his nearest foe by three. R.J.'s brother, Frank Ross, came home in 75. Frank, who played out of Wampanoag Country Club in West Hartford, captured the Connecticut and New England amateurs during his brilliant career.

Charlotte Rhodes, described as "outstanding woman player at Goodwin Park," was low female with a "creditable 91."

R.J. Ross, an MIT graduate originally from Massachusetts, designed six golf courses in and around Hartford including Middletown Golf Club in Cromwell,that later became Edgewood Golf Club and is now the site of TPC River Highlands, host of the PGA Tour's Travelers Championship. He also created a second nine holes at Keney Park in the north end of Hartford as an addition to the existing Devereux Emmet nine. I know of one original Ross drawing and that is of the former 9-hole Canton Public Golf Course.

My research into Ross continues and I'll hope to have more on him in the coming weeks.

(Photo copyright The Hartford Courant)


  1. I never knew Frank Ross and Robert were related.
    Frank's name is posted all over the championship boards in the 19th hole at Wamp. Very interesting discovery and connection.

  2. Great post Tony. Reminds me of my youth. First place I ever broke par was Goody - on the "18-hole side." Had 68 to tie Mr. Burke. Kenny Hall and I used to road trip up there almost monthly. Used it as a "get out of Hunter day." (Pre-Angilly, of course- for those of you who played Hunter in the 80's - well.....you understand why we would enjoy a day away.) Goodwin used to charge $4.18 for kids 18-holes. Great place. Park atmosphere. Fun road trip when your 16 and just got your license. Safari Golf on the way home.....f@#^ing Giraffe!