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Background Check
John Garrity
July 30, 2001
The Florida architects inspect the work of the course's original designer, Donald Ross
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July 30, 2001

Background Check

The Florida architects inspect the work of the course's original designer, Donald Ross

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After weeks outdoors with engines growling and trees splintering, we've found a quiet place: a big room with crystal chandeliers that look as if they're not turned on very often. There are desks, long tables, display cases and document shelves. From an adjoining room in which books are stored comes a small sound—the squeak of a shoe? A mouse? As I'm thinking that an afternoon in this place must be the equivalent of being bottled in formaldehyde, Khristine Januzik fills the room with energy. "The biggest part of my job is the document files," she says, standing by a row of drawers. "If I find something on a Donald Ross course, bam! It goes into a file."

It's the bam, the unexpected addition of Emeril Live to Dewey decimal, that hints at the adventurous side of Januzik—that and her red hair and ability to mix precision with hyperbole. "Oh, god, we have 115,000 photographic negatives in the basement, and gazillions of prints," she says. "It took me three years to
index them all on the computer. It almost takes an obsessive personality to do something like this."

Januzik is director of the Tufts Archives, a golf-infested division of the Given Memorial Library in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C. The mission of the archives is to preserve and catalog documents, images and artifacts relating to Pinehurst Resort and its founder, James W. Tufts. To a certain narrow segment of polite society—golf nuts—the archives are better known as a final resting place for the business records and memorabilia of Donald Ross, the Scottish-born master of course architecture. Ross and his associates designed more than 400 courses between 1902 and 1948, including Pinehurst, and I'm here with Scot Sherman, senior associate designer for Weed Golf Course Design, to ask about one of them: the University of Florida Golf Course, which was built in the early 1920s as Gainesville Country Club.

Januzik looks up Gainesville Country Club on her computer, goes to an artifact drawer, opens it and comes up with...nothing. No routing plans, no sketch cards, no construction drawings.

"Some Ross courses have a complete record, but for others the records are lost or destroyed," she says. "You wouldn't believe all the clubhouse fires. You'd think General Sherman was marching through all those courses."

"Well, I've got something for you," Sherman says. "An aerial photograph of Gainesville Country Club from the '30s."

Januzik beams. "That's wonderful," she says. "We like to fill gaps in the collection."

Sherman and I, too, have had a fulfilling day. We played golf this morning with Sherman's boss, Bobby Weed, on Ross's masterpiece, Pinehurst No. 2. (Our fourth was No. 2's course superintendent, Paul Jett, who fired a 69 from the back tees, making us wonder how he spends his workdays.) Weed, a six handicapper, played distractedly. Like a shopper wandering down grocery aisles, he stopped to examine a hillock here, a swale there—all of it food for architectural thought. "People think Ross built only flat-bottomed bunkers," he said in the 2nd fairway, his eyes trained on the green. "That's a misconception. He flashed sand in his bunkers." (Flashed bunkers have high faces that can be seen from a distance.) "What happened was," Weed continued, "a lot of bunkers were flattened later for ease of maintenance."

Weed paused at the edge of the green to appreciate the undulating putting surface, refined over decades by Ross and others. "The point is, Ross's style varied. He did different things in different parts of the country, and he delegated a lot of work. What did not vary was his design strategy."

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