Golf Course Architecture - Issue 61, July 2020

80 ON S I TE COUNTRY CLUB OF ORLANDO, FLORIDA, USA T he history of golf and golf courses, though not especially old in the main, is not always as clear as it might be. Mostly, that is simply because for most of the time that golf has existed, history has not been a significant concern. The number of clubs which have little or no archive material from their early days, even without the clubhouse fires that have wiped out so much documentation, is, from today’s perspective, pretty amazing. The Country Club of Orlando (CCO) is one such example. Founded in 1911, it is among Florida’s oldest courses, older than luminaries such as Seminole and Mountain Lake. At its foundation, the club had nine holes built by architect Tom Bendelow; it expanded to eighteen in 1918. CCO has long believed that the legendary Donald Ross was responsible for that expansion, but evidence for Ross doing that work is hard to find. It appears that Ross may have visited the site and submitted a routing for the new-look course, but clear evidence from local papers of the day suggests that Bendelow returned to re-plan the course. One of the definite consequences of the club’s age, though, is that the course is golf- only, with no associated real estate; this is, nowadays, relatively unusual for Florida. Whoever did that work, there is no doubt that the course changed extensively between 1918 and the present day. Robert Trent Jones built three new holes (the fifth, sixth and seventh) on some new land in the 1950, and time wrought its usual changes. A few years ago, therefore, the club decided to return to a more historic look and feel, and hired architect Ron Forse and his associate Jim Nagle to do the work. Forse, who has worked on 54 Ross courses during his long career as a restoration specialist, thought long and hard about the best solution. If the club had always believed its course to be a Ross, he concluded, Ross’s Did Donald Ross originally design the course of the Country Club of Orlando? Evidence is contradictory. But after a major reconstruction by Ron Forse and Jim Nagle, it now at least looks as though it is by Ross. Adam Lawrence reports Photo: LC Lambrecht/Golfstock greatest hits