For those outside the golf world, and for many of its denizens, Zanesville, Ohio, is known for its artistic history, its Y Bridge, and the first letter of its name. It was once the capital city of the 17th state, and is a fairly quite burg that sits between Columbus and Cleveland, in a broad and sweeping geolocation.
Dig a little deeper, and you find Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl, a renowned dessert emporium that offers a banana split found nowhere else, among other concoctions. We stopped at Tom’s, then crossed the Y Bridge on our way out of town. The reason we were in town, to begin, started with one of the traditional muck-ups that plague our annual golf trips: our Sunday course was busy with club championship, so it shifted to the previous Tuesday. That compelled us to move Saturday’s course to Sunday, and eliminate the original Tuesday course. Still with me? Good. How to get to Clevelandia from Columbus? Zanesville Country Club, of course.
The thing about ZCC is, you need to identify the Mikes. There’s Mike Kaido, the General Manager. Then, there’s Mike Durant, the PGA professional. Finally, there’s Mike Bennett, and he’s not an employee, but he IS the nucleus of this story. Mike Bennett decided to resolve, once and for all time, the lineage of the near 7000-yard course that has hosted many of the game’s greats, along with some of Ohio’s most important events. Two names were in contention for authorship of the course’s routing and build. The first was the itinerant Scotsman, Donald J. Ross, jr., and his man-in-the-field, Walter Hatch. The second was the first golfer to win both the US Amateur and US Open, Charles “Chick” Evans, for whom the Western Golf Association’s Evans Scholars program is named.
We knew that our vagabond trio would be accompanied by one of the Mikes, but I could not identify which one, as I had not read the emails all that closely. Fortunately for us, as we pulled into the lot, we caught a glimpse of a tall fellow, flanked by two employees, standing look-out at the clubhouse. He yodeled across the lot “Are these my Buffalo boys?” and we knew that we had our man. We’re really not sure to this day, what Mike Bennett does for a living, nor do we much care. Our five hours with him (4:15 on the course and :45 on the patio) were informative, enjoyable, and enlightening.
Mike Bennett, as far as we can ascertain, is not a professional author. He enlisted a local college professor to serve as his editor. By the looks of the book, however, you’d never know that this was his first go-round. Bennett consulted experts from Ross restorationist Tyler Rae, to the Tufts archives in Pinehurst, to the Donald Ross Society, stopping short of holding a seance with the great man himself.
I knew that the other purchase, besides a logo ball, that I would make in the shop once managed by Paul Thomas (Justin’s grandpap) was the Mike Bennett book. You cannot find it anywhere else. It’s not on Amazon, nor Abebooks. If you call or email the shop, however, I’m sure that they will ship one to you. For $65 plus shipping, it’s a solid addition to your golf room, golf shelf, library, or coffee table. You’ll enjoy the read, and you may even plan a trip to the Buckeye state. Zanesville Country Club will open its doors and arms to you, I promise.
I won’t spoil the read with the reveal. Searching for Donald Ross is a valuable addition to the Ross catalogue, and it may spawn a new generation of researchers, excited to conduct their own investigation into their club or course’s genesis. That’s a good thing. For now, enjoy some images that I took of Zanesville.