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The Donald Ross Memorial at The Highlands is a composite re-creation of classic golf holes Ross designed in the early part of the century at some of his most renowned courses. In 1990 it was recognized as a “Best New Resort Course in the U.S. by Golf Digest." At a time that many courses were simply built to be as difficult as possible, we chose a different route.
“Our founder, Everett Kircher, had a vision to pay homage to Donald Ross and build a course that included some of his greatest holes from his top courses," said Bernie Friedrich, Director of Golf Course Renovation & Development. "We wanted to also create holes from places that most golfers may not have the opportunity to play, so there was a focus on the private clubs.”
The focus on Ross’ elite private clubs required some effort. Contacting clubs, getting permission, and logging airline miles. Bernie Friedrich and Stephen Kircher, along with architect Bill Newcomb (Boyne’s designer for The Alpine, The Moor, and The Monument courses), as well as long-time golf instruction partner Jim Flick set off on a journey to visit more than 50 classic Ross courses to determine the best holes.
“There was a lot of effort and detail put into the process. We looked at the land we had and tried to match the best we could to the slopes. If a hole rose by 10 degrees of slope, we would try and find a Ross hole at a club with similar slope."
Accurately representing each hole on the Donald Ross Memorial course has always been a priority for us. When the course was built in 1988, we didn't have the technology we have now, or original plans of Ross's holes, “Today, through technology, CAD, and Google Earth, we are able to gather photos and dimensions to create an even more accurate reproduction of any updates. It is our long-term plan to continue making key renovations to the course and keeping the tradition of Donald Ross alive here at Boyne.” The clubs these holes are replicated from have changed them and we have gone back to the original design.
Hole 16 Upgrade
Renovations on Hole 16 to change it back to the original Ross designs began in Fall of 2022. We started with building a larger back tee. The fairway has been reshaped and corrected to the same width as its replica hole, Pinehurst #10. While the grass covered mound you may remember the left side of the fairway has been removed, a new mound has been added on the right-hand side near the front of the fairway. The bunker on the right side of the fairway was removed and the remainder of bunkers were rebuilt, with most being slightly reduced in size. The green has been completely redone, increasing the size from 4,100 sq. ft. to its correct size of 8,300 sq. ft. and is very undulating, producing the subtle ball movement that Ross greens often create. The green will also have additional run off area on the side and back of the green that is found on many Ross signature holes. Work is expected to be completed by mid-summer 2023 and with good growing conditions we hope to play the full hole late in the 2023 season. Until then, the hole is being played as a par 4 with a temporary green.
Hole 2 Upgrade
In the spring of 2023, we initiated the ambitious project of building three new, larger tee boxes that would be better aligned with the fairway. Select trees were also removed from the left side of the fairway that improved the view of the pin from the tee box and fairway. In addition, two bunkers were added to better replicate Ross’ original design. One bunker was added to the right side of the fairway, approximately 40 yards from the most forward tee box and the second was added about 220 yards from the front tee box just inside the fairway on the right side near the top of the knoll. The project was completed in record time and was ready for play when the course opened in May.
Hole 13 Upgrade
In September of 2022, we began extensive modifications to the green complex of the Donald Ross Memorial #13, a replica of Seminole #15 from Seminole Golf Club in Florida. The green was reduced in size by 10% and raised approximately 3 feet. The entire green complex, including greenside bunkers, was reshaped and the fairway cut around the green was extended to better replicate Ross’ original design. The project was completed in October 2022 and was available for play when the Donald Ross Memorial opened for the 2023 season.
Hole 15 Upgrade
Several years ago, Aronimink Golf Club in Pennsylvania determined that the hole had been altered from Ross’ original design, and the club restored the hole to Donald Ross’ plans. We received the original design ourselves and have restored our Donald Ross Memorial hole #15 to its original layout as well. A new set of tee boxes has been added, the fairway has been widened, fairway bunkers have been added but reduced in size, and the entire green complex was expanded by 65% and reshaped to replicate Ross’s original design. This included the addition of a multiple levels at the front of the green, as well as off-set bunkers located in front of the lower level, creating a challenging illusion on your approach shot. Construction was completed in the fall of 2022 will open for play in May of 2023. We believe this hole may now rival the Arthur Hills #13 as signature holes for The Highlands.
Hole 1 Upgrade
In 2021 the BOYNE Golf team, in conjunction with Michigan based course designer Ray Hearn, made renovations to first hole on the Donald Ross Memorial, a replica of No. 6 Seminole. We started the process in the fall of 2020 by selectively removing tress. To give it more of a Florida feel, in the spring of 2021 we replaced the trees with large sand waste areas down the left and right sides of the fairway. The waste area on the right side of the fairway will also extend over the 16th hole (No. 10 Pinehurst) and provide a true post-renovation Pinehurst feel. In the late summer, we renovated the green area by removing the original green complex, increasing the green size by 40%, and realigning it by nearly 45 degrees while also reshaping the green-side bunkers and extending the fairway cut around the green. These changes not only better replicate Ross’ original Seminole #6 design, it will improve approach shots into the green and make it a more enjoyable hole to play
We will continue to make updates to the Donald Ross Memorial and other BOYNE Golf courses to improve the golf experience.