The game of golf is like no other... for those of us fortunate to have experienced it. Championship caliber, classic layout and design, and impeccable maintenance are what characterize the golf facility at the Detroit Golf Club.
The Detroit Golf Club has the distinction of having both courses designed by Donald Ross. Ross, the son of a stone mason in Dornoch, Scotland, immigrated to the United States in 1899. By 1912 he was considered by many to be the best-known and most-prolific golf course designer. In 1925 he employed over 3,000 men in the construction of his courses.
At the Detroit Golf Club, Ross, with the able assistance of Ernie Way, the Club's original greens superintendent, created two subtly different masterpieces that today still bear his original influence and trademark design.
Donald Ross, architect of both the North and South DGC courses, was the most-prolific, best-known and most-highly regarded golf course designer of the first half of the century. From the hindsight of history, he seems to have been born to the role.
Son of a stone mason of Dornoch, Scotland, the health resort located on the North Sea. Donald was part of a deeply religious family whose children were expected to sing in the choir each Sunday. Fortunately for the world's golfing community, that left plenty of time for Donald to learn the game at the Royal Dornoch Golf Club, the great ocean-side course designed by Scotland's legendary Old Tom Morris, four-time British Open Champion. Donald learned well enough to play the game at the highest levels.
But in a town situated at the same latitude of Juneau, Alaska, weather allowed play only five months of the year; the precocious Donald spent the "off seasons" of his teenage years sketching golf holes. At 18 he began two summers' internship at the Old Course at St. Andrews under the legend himself, Tom Morris.
At the age of 20 Donald Ross moved to the United States to work as professional at the Oakley Golf Club in Waltertown, Mass. His tournament success was considerable, including a number of championships and seven appearances in the U.S. Open.
But his career took a different cast when in the summer of 1900 he visited Pinehurst, eventually making the move permanent in 1903. The move and his subsequent work ensured that Donald Ross' greatest fame would come not as a player, but as a golf course architect, and Pinehurst number two is merely one notable example of the more than 600 courses around the world that bear his name.
Midway through the second decade of this century, he undertook the layout of the North and South Courses; it was completed in 1916 under the capable direction of Ernie Way.
Donald Ross passed away in 1948; the family still stands on Gilbert Street in Dornoch; it is not regarded as a shrine. Shrines to Donald Ross number in the hundreds, and they are the some of the greenest, most beautiful acreage in this country and around the world. It is one of the great traditions of the Detroit Golf Club that we have at our doorstep 36 of the finest examples of his work.