The second of the golf courses designed at the Boyne Highlands Resort, the Donald Ross Memorial features interpretations of the master’s “greatest hits” that allows the everyday golfer to experience Ross’s classic concepts at a much more reasonable rate than at their original homes (if they’re available to the public at all).
Among those featured are the second from Scioto Country Club (held among the best in the world for its place within 18), the iconic No. 16 at Oakland Hills, and the tournament make-or-break short par four from Inverness.
The course was not technically designed by Ross, of course, but by William Newcomb, a Michigan golf icon. Newcomb got his start working for Pete Dye after winning the Michigan Amateur, and also served as the coach of the University of Michigan’s golf program before returning to architecture. He also completed the Alpine course at Boyne Mountain, among numerous other Michigan layouts.
Greatest hits albums used to sell. My first disclaimer is I am not a fan of replica courses but I will try to be objective. The first hole is a knockoff of #6 at Seminole. Off the tee favor the right to avoid the fairway bunkers left. There are also two right, but a decent drive from the correct tee box should take them out of play. You senses will then be overwhelmed by the four bunkers right and the two green side left. Just hit the right yardage iron and you will be fine. The 2nd is a short par four dogleg left. Good birdie oppty, you can drive through the fairway, so favor the left side. While this green is protected by 3 bunkers, it is a lightweight compared to the first hole. The 3rd is a replica of Oakland Hills #17. Uphill, surrounded by 6 bunkers with a ticklish green. The 4th is a knockoff of the 14th at Pinehurst. I played it just about the same way. I avoided the fairway bunkers right by hooking it into the fairway bunker left. Hooked the approach into the greenside bunker left and then 1 upped myself by skulling that shot into one of the greenside bunker right. The quality of the sand was outstanding. The par 5 5th emulates the 13th at Oak Hill. Generous driving area, but the second shot requires good decision making and then execution. There are two fairway bunkers that cinch the fairway from about 130-160 out. If you hit a good drive you should be able to fly them to set up your wedge. The 6th is modelled after #2 at Scioto. The fairway bunkers right force you left. Green is protected by bunkers front right and front left. I may be mistaken, but this fairway seemed significantly wider than the original. The 7th is a good birdie oppty, if you avoid the bunkers. The 8th is a replica of #11 at Charlotte CC. You must carry the water hazard and there are bunkers on every point of the compass. The 9th is a green light birdie par 5 dogleg right with a bunker on the inside corner. If you carry the bunker, go for it. Having said that, there are bunkers left, long and right. The one right is beach bunker leading into the water hazard.
The10th is based upon #14 at Royal Dornoch. Ross did not design Royal Dornoch, but that is where he first learned his craft. Ross was born in Dornoch. The 11th is a feast or famine hole in Michigan and at Salem CC. Short par four dogleg right. Ideal drive is short of the last fairway bunker to set up your wedge of choice. The green sits on a knoll, if you are lucky your approach will hold, but then you must deal with a nefarious green. The 12th is a throwaway par 3 modelled after the Detroit GC. The 13th was my favorite and is a replica of #15 at Seminole. A par 5 dogleg right with a split fairway. You can get home in two from the right but must carry the water hazard twice, if you are left, it is a three shotter. The 24th is a knockoff of Pinehurst #2. Like the original it is long and tough. Modelledafter#11 at Aronimink Golf Club the 15th , is a what you see is what you get. Fairway bunkers right and left and an elevated green surrounded by four bunkers. Take an extra club. The 16th is a replica fo #10 at Pinehurst #2. Dogleg left, tee shot is pretty open.except for a bunker right. The real decision comes on the second shot. Do I fly the bunker left to give myself a short approach or do I play conservatively and stay right and tradeoff a longer approach shot? The 17th is modelled after Wannamoisett CC’s 8th hole. The front greenside bunkers ARE NOT grennside and are at least 20 yards short of the green. The finishing hole is a replica of #16 at Oakland Hills. Dogleg right with water in the elbow. Don’t be a hero, aim down the middle.
I would not travel to Michigan to play Ross Memorial. I would only play it if it is part of my package stay and play deal.