SHOCK: Hawthorne Valley is NOT a Donald Ross Course


Hawthorne Valley Golf Club Solon

When something is said enough times, it becomes common knowledge. Even if it’s not true.

The recent story about the 2019 closing of Hawthorne Valley Country Club elicited a large number of strong comments on Facebook and Twitter from people who don’t want to see the storied Donald Ross course closed.

But no comment was as stunning as the information found by a reader (who asked to remain anonymous) that the golf course was NOT designed by legendary architect Donald Ross, as is frequently claimed.

Instead, the course was designed by Frank H. Pelton and Cleveland architect and greenskeeper F. T. Stafford.

Check out the following Cleveland Plain Dealer story from May 2, 1928, pulled from a discussion on Golf Club Atlas, originally posted by Sven Nilsen:

Golf story on Hawthorne Valley CC Cleveland Plain Dealer May 2 1928

The story by golf writer John Dietrich, published only a year-and-a-half after the opening of Hawthorne Valley, primarily focuses on Stafford’s memory of shooing away Hall of Fame player Johnny Farrell, who at the time was young enough to be a caddie and was illicitly hawking golf balls from the club managed by Stafford.

The relevant section comes in a brief bio about Stafford’s Cleveland connections:

He (Stafford) came to the Cleveland district three years ago and assisted Frank H. Pelton in the designing of Hawthorne Valley, the new fee course on South Miles Road.

What an incredible find by Nilsen.

With this new knowledge, the value of Hawthorne Valley as a golf course worthy of historic resurrection because it’s a Ross design just plunged to nearly zero…

POSTSCRIPT: The Donald Ross Society currently lists Hawthorne Valley as a Ross-designed course. We have reached out to them for review and comment.

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