During this fortnight of US Opens at Pinehurst #2 in North Carolina, the name Donald J. Ross might appear a bit more than usual in the media and draw more attention from viewers than is typical. A certain number of golfers know the name of the architect who drew up plans for their home course, and in some cases, participated in the actual construction of the layout. Donald J. Ross is credited with hundreds of designs across the USA and is deserving of the attention given to him in Donald Ross: Discovering The Legend, a film by Cob Carlson. In addition to being a creative videographer, Carlson is an intensely-successful free throw shooter. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should. You can click through to a trailer here. Before you do that, read our quick interview with Cob Carlson.
1. Obligatory opener: who is Cob Carlson, from where does he come and how did he gain interest in golf, video and Donald Ross?
Cob Carlson has been a film editor/producer for twenty-four years, the past twenty-two spent in Boston. He has worked on documentaries, major network television programs, feature films, music videos, commercials, and web videos. I have been playing the game of golf for the past 50 years, and compete in local, state and regional tournaments.
2. Where is your home base and how does it relate to the work in which you are currently engaged?
I am based in Boston and I have been a member at the George Wright Golf Course, one of Boston’s municipal courses, for 17 years, and am a former club champion there. It is a wonderful Donald Ross design.
3. How did you select your interview subjects for the Donald Ross video? Is there anyone still living that you missed out on and wish you could have included?
I picked interview subjects based on my own research and the advice of Bradley Klein, author of he book DISCOVERING DONALD ROSS. I wish I could have interviewed John Derr, who had a great personal anecdotal story about Ross. I also wish I could have interviewed a few major champs who won on Ross courses, but due to budget and schedules restrictions, could not.
4. There is a Spanish playwright named Lope de Vega, who is credited with over 600 plays. Ross seems to receive credit for a billion golf courses (although to be fair, some people confuse Ross, Jones, Trent Jones and on and on). Tell us about Ross, how many of his course credits he actually visited and the likelihood that at least some were entrusted to builders and are not true Ross courses.
I defer to the experts here. Roughly 400 courses designed and he visited 2/3 of them. Wouldn’t worry too much about the ‘not true’ courses.
5. In Buffalo-Niagara, we have one Donald Ross course, the Country Club of Buffalo. We have another to the south, at Chautauqua, and a handful in Rochester (Oak Hill’s pair, Irondequoit, Country Club of Rochester and Monroe). What Ross architectural and strategic features should folks new to the architecture game look for at these and other courses?
Wide fairways, interesting and varied bunkering, open fronts to greens, great green complexes, and courses easy to walk.
6. Throughout your research, you must have uncovered at least one pure Ross gem that no one wrote about, talked about, asked to host a tournament. Can you let us know its name? If you have more than one, we’ll allow multiple gems.
Westbrook in Ohio. Roosevelt in Georgia.
7. What is the ultimate goal of your project? Are we talking feature film release and Oscar night or something a bit more grounded?
I am hoping to pay tribute and homage to Donald Ross. I am hoping that both people in the golf world and outside of the golf world become more familiar with and cognizant of his work. The film will be 75 -90 minutes long.
8. We almost forgot to ask, but who was Donald Ross, where was he raised and how did he come to the USA? Once he arrived, what went down?
Donald Ross was born and raised in Dornoch, Scotland. he came to the United States in 1899 to work at Oakley CC in Watertown MA, outside of Boston. A professor arranged his job there as the golf professional. From there he went to work at Pinehurst and the Essex CC, and then went on to form his architecture company.
9. What question have I (and the rest of the world) failed to ask that you would love to answer? Ask the question and answer it, please.
Where can I see the film or buy it once finished. The film will be streamed on Netflix, Amazon, iTunes or some other service. The DVD will be available on the website www.donaldrossfilm.com, Amazon, and at golf retail outlets.