Background Check The Florida architects inspect the work of the course's original designer, Donald Ross

July 29, 2001

After weeks outdoors with engines growling and trees splintering,
we've found a quiet place: a big room with crystal chandeliers
that look as if they're not turned on very often. There are
desks, long tables, display cases and document shelves. From an
adjoining room in which books are stored comes a small sound--the
squeak of a shoe? A mouse? As I'm thinking that an afternoon in
this place must be the equivalent of being bottled in
formaldehyde, Khristine Januzik fills the room with energy. "The
biggest part of my job is the document files," she says, standing
by a row of drawers. "If I find something on a Donald Ross
course, bam! It goes into a file."

It's the bam, the unexpected addition of Emeril Live to Dewey
decimal, that hints at the adventurous side of Januzik--that and
her red hair and ability to mix precision with hyperbole. "Oh,
god, we have 115,000 photographic negatives in the basement, and
gazillions of prints," she says. "It took me three years to index
them all on the computer. It almost takes an obsessive
personality to do something like this."

Januzik is director of the Tufts Archives, a golf-infested
division of the Given Memorial Library in the Village of
Pinehurst, N.C. The mission of the archives is to preserve and
catalog documents, images and artifacts relating to Pinehurst
Resort and its founder, James W. Tufts. To a certain narrow
segment of polite society--golf nuts--the archives are better known
as a final resting place for the business records and memorabilia
of Donald Ross, the Scottish-born master of course architecture.
Ross and his associates designed more than 400 courses between
1902 and 1948, including Pinehurst, and I'm here with Scot
Sherman, senior associate designer for Weed Golf Course Design,
to ask about one of them: the University of Florida Golf Course,
which was built in the early 1920s as Gainesville Country Club.

Januzik looks up Gainesville Country Club on her computer, goes
to an artifact drawer, opens it and comes up with...nothing. No
routing plans, no sketch cards, no construction drawings. "Some
Ross courses have a complete record, but for others the records
are lost or destroyed," she says. "You wouldn't believe all the
clubhouse fires. You'd think General Sherman was marching through
all those courses."

"Well, I've got something for you," Sherman says. "An aerial
photograph of Gainesville Country Club from the '30s."

Januzik beams. "That's wonderful," she says. "We like to fill
gaps in the collection."

Sherman and I, too, have had a fulfilling day. We played golf
this morning with Sherman's boss, Bobby Weed, on Ross's
masterpiece, Pinehurst No. 2. (Our fourth was No. 2's course
superintendent, Paul Jett, who fired a 69 from the back tees,
making us wonder how he spends his workdays.) Weed, a six
handicapper, played distractedly. Like a shopper wandering down
grocery aisles, he stopped to examine a hillock here, a swale
there--all of it food for architectural thought. "People think
Ross built only flat-bottomed bunkers," he said in the 2nd
fairway, his eyes trained on the green. "That's a misconception.
He flashed sand in his bunkers." (Flashed bunkers have high faces
that can be seen from a distance.) "What happened was," Weed
continued, "a lot of bunkers were flattened later for ease of

Weed paused at the edge of the green to appreciate the undulating
putting surface, refined over decades by Ross and others. "The
point is, Ross's style varied. He did different things in
different parts of the country, and he delegated a lot of work.
What did not vary was his design strategy."

We got around in 3 1/2 hours, and nobody lost a ball. In the
locker room a wound-up Weed could hardly wait to catch his plane
to Gainesville to resume work on the Florida renovation. "I think
that's the case whenever I see a great course," he said. "I get
so pumped up that I want to go right out and work on a green."

Actually, how (or whether) to renovate is the subject of hot
debate at meetings of the Donald Ross Society, an international
membership organization devoted to the preservation of Ross's
memory, design philosophy and courses. Some Ross aficionados
become apoplectic if they hear that someone has moved a bunker or
built a new tee on a Ross course. Others accept that courses must
evolve with time and exigencies. "Look at this," says Sherman,
handing me a copy of a Ross sketch card--a line drawing of a hole
on graph board. "This angle turns at two hundred yards." He
points to the outside of a dogleg and continues, "At Florida
we're turning it at three hundred yards because those kids can
bomb it."

Another image, produced by a grinning Januzik, shows the
Pyramids, a long-forgotten cluster of chocolate-drop mounds on
Pinehurst No. 1. The ugly, unnatural mounds, arranged in perfect
rows, were an accepted feature of course design in the early
1900s. "They were a useful way to dispose of rocks," says
Sherman. "They piled up some rocks, covered them with dirt and
planted grass on them."

Neither of these examples of Ross design, it goes without saying,
will find its way onto the Florida course. For Sherman, as for
Weed, the visit to Pinehurst is not so much a hunt for things to
copy as it is a quest for inspiration. The sketch cards, with
marginal notes in Ross's precise hand, are like Tibetan prayer
flags. The rolled-up blueprints are like symphonic scores. So
when Januzik unrolls a 1922 routing plan of the Pinehurst
courses--printed on linen, no less--Sherman gazes upon it as
reverently as he might the Shroud of Turin. "You see why we like
this more than the computer?" he says. Sherman touches the linen
with his fingertips. "This elicits emotion. Our computer elicits
no emotion."

It's quiet again.

A change of hue is coming to This Old Course with the arrival of
the first truckloads of sod. In our next installment we'll
celebrate with the summer interns of MacCurrach Golf
Construction, Inc., at their campus hangout, the Salty Dog

For previous installments of This Old Course go to

COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY GREG FOSTER Januzik catalogs all things Ross at the Tufts Archives, including his 1928 routing for East Lake, Bobby Jones's home club. COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES

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