Winnapaug Golf Club in Westerly, Rhode Island, has appointed Nicklaus Design to modernise its Donald Ross course. It will be the first time the design firm, who will be working with the Donald Ross Society on the project, has taken on a renovation of a Ross layout.
The project comes as part of a multi-year partnership with the Winnapaug Golf Group, a golf and community development organisation headed by Nicholas and Jill Scola.
“Our ultimate goal is to provide an affordable, relaxing golf experience on a layout that will simulate private course conditions but with public access for our local and wider community to enjoy for the next 100 years,” said Nicholas Scola. “We’re certain that in leveraging the expertise and innovation of Nicklaus Design, the modernised course, when completed, will maintain the original Donald Ross characteristics that were intended when the course was built in 1922.”
Chad Goetz, senior design associate for Nicklaus Design, will oversee the work, working closely with Winnapaug’s superintendent James Trichter. Construction is expected to begin in October and continue during the winter seasons for the next two to three years.
Michael Fay, founder of the Donald Ross Society, said: “In our discussions with the Scolas we simply ask that the work in restoring the course be done correctly in accord with the standards and quality originally espoused by Donald Ross. We understand that restoration and development are necessary for the 100-year-old course in order to remain functional and economically viable well into the future. Visualising the course in 2022 as it was in 1922 is our wish.
“Nicklaus Design is an A+ company. As a representative of The Society, I have complete confidence in them and their work. Working with Nick Scola we’ve encountered an individual who understands our mission. Winnapaug will be a real gem when it’s entirely finished.”
Jill Scola said: “We’ve conveyed a strong message to the Nicklaus group asking them to present plans that will reflect the concepts that Donald Ross would envision today, in 2022. Donald Ross and his architectural work remains one of the most revered in all of golf design, even 100 years after the construction of this course. Our decision to partner with Nicklaus Design ultimately came down to our shared vision of honouring his legacy and vision through this restoration, while mirroring the modern standards Nicklaus Design ensures in its restoration work.”
Paul Stringer, president of Nicklaus Design, said: “Nicklaus Design is excited that the Scolas are giving us the opportunity to work alongside The Donald Ross Society. This is not only our first course in Rhode Island but is also our first foray in modernising one of Donald Ross’s original courses.”
Plans at Winnapaug also include building a new clubhouse, hotel and suites.
"The ultimate plan is to have and develop an all-inclusive facility that will provide a resort atmosphere to golfers and visitors and will enhance the existing layout,” said Nicholas Scola. “Our goal is to provide affordable and a quality golf experience with the help of Nicklaus Design, featuring travel packages and course accommodations so everyone can enjoy the beautiful community Westerly and Rhode Island has to offer year-round.
“In looking forward, I believe that if Donald Ross was alive today, he would be proud and excited about the renovations that are planned at Winnapaug.”