Golf Course Architecture - Issue 69, July 2022

53 with the lens-making industry on the banks of the Quinebaug River that drove the town’s wealth in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Wells family, which owned American Optical, at the time the largest manufacturer of optics in the world, hired Ross in 1916 to design a nine-hole golf course for their employees. The course, named Cohasse – a Nipmuc word meaning land of tall pines – was turned over to the membership by the Wells family, an arrangement that exists to this day. It is also listed by Anthony Pioppi as eighth best in The Finest Nines in North America and the 37th best nine-hole layout in the world by Golf Magazine. For club president Chris Dono, 37th is good but he is striving to achieve more. “We have invested a lot in infrastructure to keep the course as it was envisioned by Ross more than a hundred years ago,” he says. Dono also notes that the course is maintained with a love of tradition. “We have three full-time employees and during the summer we have about 30 temps. But the course – as it always has been – is run by member volunteers. This might have seemed natural 100 years ago, but it comes with its challenges.” Club historian, Matt Davol, says that the membership is as high as it’s been in some time (although some full memberships are available), and sees the upkeep as part of keeping the town’s traditions alive. Davol’s grandparents were actually some of the club’s original members. There’s more than golf at Cohasse. Travelling south out of the neighbourhoods of Southbridge’s triple deckers, just past Eastford Road School and Cohasse Brook, you come to rock walls, roadside gardens, natural stands of tall pines and adjacent lines of shaggy bark elms. Golf is backgrounded by the Olmsted Brothers’ design, an acreage that f lows around Wells Pond and The Olmsted Brothers were engaged to produce a planting plan for Cohasse Country Club in the late 1920s, around the same time Ross returned to create a revised design (top) Images: Courtesy of the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site