Broadmoor Country Club
Donald Ross has been called the first superstar of American golf. In fact, his work is so popluar that his courses often times play host toimportant golfevents in the middle and eastern portions of the United States. An unfortunateadjunct is that some of his finest designs including Oakland Hills, Scioto, Oak Hill, and Inverness have been tinkered withby lesser architects in an effort topresent a tougher, more modernchallenge in major events.
Other Ross courses like Hope Valley in North Carolina have lost some of their flair because the green pads have been allowed to shrink by as much as 6-8 feet around the edges and thusmany of the most vexing hole locations have been lost.
Broadmoor Country Club is in a different position from either scenario. Since its founding in 1922, the club has done an excellent job of retainingthe vast majority of the features with which Ross imbued the course. 135 of Ross’s 138 bunkers are still in play and are well preserved and though some of the corners of the green pads have been lost, the greens are still full of interest and challenge. An opportunity to play at Broadmoor equates to an opportunity to appreciatemany of Ross’s design strengths: his ability to produce a superior routing,his ability to build a course that isenjoyable for membership play one day and yet could host the U.S. Women’s Open the next, his ability to make bunkers so that they don’t appear as man-made contrivances,and his knack for producing fresh and imaginative green complexes.
However,what has been lost with time at Broadmoor are Ross’s corridors of play, which have been severely compromised underneath hundreds upon hundreds of hardwood trees. The player on numerous occasions can be in a bunker off the tee and have no shot but to chip out as directly between him and the flagare one or more trees.
This is a great shame. The design itself is inspired and makes the most of the gentle rolls found on this relatively flat 200 acre block of property on the outskirts of Indianapolis. Save for a few green pads and tees, the high to low point on the front nine is only six feet and yet, the golfer is never aware of that fact. Whether it is by a topped shot bunker as at the2nd hole or a nest of bunkers off the 3rd tee, Ross continually blocks the golfer from having a sustained view ofa flat fairway.
Just as important, the bunkers never look artificial, which is no mean feat when working on level property. Any architect can cut a bunker into a hillside and have it appear natural but to create bunkers from nothing is an underappreciated art form.
Ross always let the topography dictate the placement of his green sites. Sometimes, like at Charles River Country Club outside of Boston where he routed the course over and around rock ledges, the land forced Ross into accepting an unconventional string of ‘pars.’ For instance, from the 9th through the 17thholes at Charles River, par is 3-5-3-short 4-short 4-3-5-5-3. The holes work beautifully together nonetheless as they are natural in appearance and highly diverse.
However, here ina stateknown for its flat cornfields, Ross had far fewerrestrictions placed on him. And with the land yielding only minimal interest, Ross created a number of very fine holes, thanks to some excellent bunkering schemes and imaginative greens, as seen below.
Holes to Note
First hole and 2nd hole, 435 and 410 yards, respectively; Not exactly the quintessential Ross ‘handshake’ start, the golfer is reminded of the expression at Wannamoisett of not getting discouraged during the first couple of holes but to hang in there. The tough start coupled with the profusion of bunkers around the course are clear indications that the founders of Broadmoorwere intent on Ross building them a first rate course.