5 underrated Donald Ross courses in the Carolinas

Camden Country Club is the only 18-hole Donald Ross design in South Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Camden Country Club)

The great golf course architect Donald Ross was prolific in the Carolinas, particularly North Carolina, designing a number of the best courses in the state. Here are five that you might not know about:

Country Club of Salisbury: Perhaps the best-kept secret in the Piedmont, CC of Salisbury is pure Ross from first tee to 18th green. Sometimes gentle and sometimes significant elevation change throughout the property certainly had to fit Ross’ eye when he was laying out the course. Greens and bunkers are vintage Ross and the membership and superintendent have done a marvelous job of maintaining every Ross characteristic. The CC of Salisbury is private but the club opens its doors to a number of charitable efforts, thus allowing the public to experience once a year what the members enjoy every day.

Camden Country Club: Ross re-designed Camden CC in the late 1920s and remains the only 18-hole Ross design in South Carolina. It’s a favorite of good players in the area, owing to the fact that the Carolinas Four-Ball Championship, conducted by the Carolinas Golf Association, has been held at Camden for more than 50 years. Numerous CGA and South Carolina Golf Association events have been played at Camden over the years. It’s only 6,350 yards from the back tees, but players quite often use every club in their bags.

Southern Pines Country Club: Known locally as the Elks’ Club course, Southern Pines CC is open to the public and is a local favorite in the Sandhills. Ross provided the playing corridors in 1914 and Frank Maples converted the greens from sand to grass in the late 1930s. Says Golf Club Atlas, “… the golfer keeps expecting to find an ordinary or indifferent hole but instead only encounters one enticing shot after another, the kind that makes you play golf until dark.”

Catawba Country Club: Designed by Ross in 1946, two years before he died, this hidden gem in Newton is a delight to play. It contains all the Ross features, especially the green complexes, which include challenging bunkers. It’s not a long course but takes a great deal of local knowledge. As with most of Ross courses, it has short, risk-reward par-5s and long, tough par-3s.

Wilmington Municipal Golf Course: A group of Wilmington residents, led by Walker Taylor, encouraged the city to restore the greens and bunkers that Ross designed in 1926. John Fought, who oversaw the restoration of Pine Needles – a well-known Ross course – in 2005, was chosen for the job that was finished in 2014. The course gets about 60,000 rounds a year.


One Reply to “5 underrated Donald Ross courses in the Carolinas”

  1. You let the cat out of the bag. CCSalisbury is absolutely one of the best courses to play in the Piedmont + NC as well. Guests rave about CCS when they play here and always say they are “already checking their schedules for a return visit. ” Membership fees are shockingly low as well. As I mentioned, the cat is now out of the bag.

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