Donald Ross has designed over 400 golf courses, including two 18-hole courses at Mill Creek Park and one at Youngstown Country Club.

BOARDMAN – Donald Ross designed over 400 golf courses in his lifetime. The two courses at Mill Creek MetroPark are the only municipality-owned courses with two 18-hole Ross designed links in the United States.

“There are a few other Donald Ross municipal courses, but I don’t think there is another 36-hole facility,” said Mark Larson of the Donald Ross Society.

The company was founded in 1989 to promote Ross’s heritage in designing golf courses and promoting their preservation and restoration.

Larson, from Hubbard, came to Mill Creek Golf Course in Boardman last week to present a check for $ 15,000 to Brian Tolnar, PGA Golf and Recreation Director for Mill Creek MetroParks.

This is the fourth check – totaling $ 50,000 – that the Donald Ross Society Foundation has presented to the courts since 2019. The money will be placed in the courts’ endowment fund and used to make capital improvements. The foundation is a charity funded by golf events organized by the Donald Ross Society and by individuals.

“There isn’t another golf course in the United States that has received as much money or as many checks as we have given to Mill Creek Park. That’s how highly we think about what’s been done here, ”Larson said.

The courtyards opened to the public in 1928, according to the parks website.

A second course designed by Donald Ross in Mahoning County is the Youngstown Country Club, a private, member-owned club, also featuring 18 holes of championship golf. This course, however, was designed by Walter Travis and redesigned by Ross. It is one of the oldest courses in Ohio. Some of Ross’s other Ohio courses are Inverness to Toledo, Scioto to Columbus, and Manakiki to Willoughby Hills.


“Ross was at the forefront of golf course architecture and design,” said Larson. “Its golf courses are timeless. They play it 100 years after he built them and still get the same joy from the game. “

The company is based in Pinehurst, North Carolina, where Ross lived until his death in 1948.

“His impact wasn’t just on the courses he built, but he was so respected. Many architects who followed him learned from him, ”said Larson. Ross came to the United States from Scotland in 1899 after apprenticing with “Old Tom Morris” at the Old Course at St. Andrews Links, where the game was first played 600 years ago.

Many Donald Ross golf courses are among the most private and exclusive courses in the United States. “But everyone in the audience has the chance to experience a Donald Ross course here in Youngstown. Few cities can say that, ”Larson said.


Ross had a “genius for routing, with very little walking required from green to green,” according to a bio posted on the Donald Ross Foundation website. He typically routed his short par-4s over uphill terrain. Other trademarks included greens that invited backswing but with big problems on the green.

“Every hole is a test,” said Larson. “As you played the course, the direction of the wind would change. The idea where there is a wind of 15 miles per hour, now you have to play that in your shot, but the wind will change with every hole. Sometimes it’s facing the wind. Sometimes it’s a crosswind. He would do that sort of thing, ”he said.

“When he was building a course, he always tried to build it for two types of players. Every hole is played so that a great golfer can play it one way, but he always designed the holes so that average golfers have a route to play that hole, ”said Larson.

“He always gave you options. So you look at most of the holes here at Mill Creek Park, and you can actually throw the ball onto the green. He gave you an option on how you wanted to approach the greens, ”he said.

“Some of the courses he designed are on very small grounds, but they don’t feel small due to the way he has drawn the holes together so they never feel cramped.”

The Mill Creek South course was selected by Golfweek as one of America’s 30 best municipal courses.

Tolnar said there were no specific plans for the use of Ross Society funds.

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