Menu Close

BOYNE Golf Honours Donald Ross Legacy with Renovated Holes at The Highlands

The Highlands' Donald Ross Memorial course

BOYNE Golf has recently opened four newly renovated holes at The Highlands’ Donald Ross Memorial course, continuing its multi-year transformation project dedicated to honouring the legendary golf course architect.

This one-of-a-kind 18-hole layout is a composite re-creation of classic golf holes designed by Donald Ross at iconic venues during the early 20th century.

The Highlands' Donald Ross Memorial course

The latest renovated holes include Hole 2 (No. 4 at Plainfield Country Club), Hole 13 (No. 15 at Seminole), Hole 15 (No. 11 at Aronimink), and Hole 16 (No. 10 at Pinehurst No. 2).

These additions bring the total to five restored holes, with additional renovations planned over the coming years.

Everett Kircher, BOYNE Golf’s founder, conceived the idea over 35 years ago to create a new and unique golf course that would pay homage to classic course architecture and Ross.

The Highlands' Donald Ross Memorial course

His vision was to re-create some of Ross’ signature holes from his top courses. The course features classic renditions from historic venues like Pinehurst No. 2, Oakland Hills, Seminole, and several others.

“When we began this journey in the late 1980s, Dad wanted to create a unique golf experience that no other resort had done before, replicating some of the great designs of famous holes in one compositive golf course,” said Stephen Kircher, BOYNE Resorts’ President and CEO.

Stephen Kircher and BOYNE Golf’s Director of Golf Course Renovations and Development, Bernie Friedrich, are leading the project.

They enlisted Ray Hearn, a Michigan-based course architect and Donald Ross expert, to guide the restoration.

“We are thrilled with how these memorable holes have turned out,” said Friedrich.

“Our objective with every hole has been to duplicate Ross’s original designs”.

“More accurately following Ross’s original designs, we reshaped the fairways, creating additional angles into the greens and improving shot values”.

“Along with more accurate positioning of bunkers and more exacting green complexes, golfers will experience an even more authentic Donald Ross experience.”

The Highlands' Donald Ross Memorial course

The restoration team has leveraged technology to ensure accuracy in their recreations.

“The opportunity we now have through technology makes this process so exciting,” explained Friedrich.

“We didn’t have iPhones or camera phones back then, so we took pictures of the holes with a Polaroid camera”.

“We now have more access to Ross’ original drawings, Google Earth data (past and present), CAD drawings, and, maybe most importantly, Lidar maps.”

Friedrich described how accurate their work has been: “We were at the PGA Show in Orlando and ran into Jeff Kiddie, the PGA Head Professional at Aronimink”.

“I mentioned we just remodelled our 15th hole, which is their 11th.

We showed him a picture of our hole, and he looked at it for a while and then said, ‘Did you get that picture off of our website’? That is how accurate the construction and attention to detail has been.”

BOYNE Golf is focused on Ross’s renowned green complexes, known for their challenging designs and beauty.

“The green complexes have always been a priority,” said Friedrich. “Today, through the new technology, we can gather photos and dimensions to replicate the green more accurately, creating an authentic Donald Ross experience”.

“We are getting the greens within one inch of their original grades now.”

The project team is excited about the future renovations, with plans to renovate the 10th hole, a recreation of Royal Dornoch’s 14th hole, where Ross began his career.

Friedrich has high hopes for this project, saying, “This hole is being completely redone to render one of the greatest holes in the world accurately”.

“Our prior work did not begin to capture what this version of No. 14 will be…it will be, without a doubt, in my opinion, the finest of all 160 plus holes we have at BOYNE Golf.”

The renovated holes have received positive feedback from resort guests and golfers, contributing to increased rounds played on the Donald Ross Memorial course last season.

To learn more about the renovations and the individual holes being worked on, visit BOYNE Golf’s website.