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Sven Nilsen

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Blowing Rock, NC - Ross and Raynor
« on: December 23, 2015, 12:48:50 PM »
There's been a bit of a confusing conversation on this site about Blowing Rock CC (formerly known as the Green Park Hotel GC or the Green Park-Norwood GC).  Reports have both Donald Ross and Seth Raynor working on the course in the early 1920's, with the common story being that Ross added 9 holes to an existing course, with Raynor coming in shortly thereafter to add at least six more.  The Donald Ross Society gives a date of 1923 for his work, with reports having Raynor coming in some time after Ross with some sources noting 1926.  Despite these theories, I have found no evidence that the course ever had more than 18 holes, leading one to think that only one of these two men was responsible for the extension from 9 holes to a full course.

This combination of architects and the timing of their work never made sense to me.  Ross did do work in the town of Blowing Rock, but I don't think he ever worked on the Green Park Hotel Course.  Instead, in 1923 he was engaged to construct the 9 hole course for the Mayview Manor Hotel on the west side of town.

Lenoir News-Topic May 25, 1923 -



The construction of this course is noted simultaneously with work going on at the Norwood Park Hotel course in this  April 27, 1923 article from the same paper:



There is little doubt that Raynor worked at the NPH, and the following articles give us a little more detail on the extent of what he did.

This Oct. 26, 1922 article from the News-Topic notes work started on the construction of the new 18 hole course.



In March, Raynor is cited as visiting the NPH site to lay out the 18 hole course.

March 9, 1923 Lenoir News-Topic -



March 10, 1923 Daily Free Press -



There are still a few holes in the record, including who designed the original 9 holes at the NPH.  It is possible that this work was done by Ross at some point in the teens, but that begs the question as to why he wasn't brought in to extend the course to 18 holes, especially as he was already doing work in Blowing Rock at that time.

I suspect that the Ross work at Mayview Manor is the source of a mistaken attribution for work in 1923 at the Norwood Park Hotel.  Perhaps he did preliminary work on the extension to 18 holes, but from the articles above, it seems evident that the final result was all Raynor, and from the sounds of it you could argue that he was responsible for an entirely new 18 hole course.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2015, 12:51:17 PM by Sven Nilsen »
"As much as we have learned about the history of golf architecture in the last ten plus years, I'm convinced we have only scratched the surface."  A GCA Poster

"There's the golf hole; play it any way you please." Donald Ross

Sven Nilsen

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Re: Blowing Rock, NC - Ross and Raynor
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2015, 01:43:43 PM »
A couple of follow up items.

Mayview Park was a large planned community, with a 1920 booklet on the attractions of the new development entitled "In Cloudland" available for view here:

http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=loc.ark:/13960/t2b85wv40;view=1up;seq=1

Although it sounds like the course was constructed, I'm not sure how long a life it had.  I can find no reports on its existence beyond the 1929 Annual Guide, and it is not mentioned in O. B. Keeler's fairly extensive book on golf in North Carlina from 1938.

The booklet contains one photo of the original 9 hole Norwood Park course:



Here's the 1923 plan of the Mayview Park course taken from the Tufts Archives:






"As much as we have learned about the history of golf architecture in the last ten plus years, I'm convinced we have only scratched the surface."  A GCA Poster

"There's the golf hole; play it any way you please." Donald Ross

ANTHONYPIOPPI

Re: Blowing Rock, NC - Ross and Raynor
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2015, 04:21:04 PM »
Great find. How did you access those newspapers?


Anthony

Rees Milikin

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Re: Blowing Rock, NC - Ross and Raynor
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2015, 05:54:36 PM »
Are there any old aerials of this course?

Excellent info and clarification. 
Wasn't there a supposed Raynor in Statesville?

Sven Nilsen

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Re: Blowing Rock, NC - Ross and Raynor
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2015, 06:02:23 PM »
Are there any old aerials of this course?

Excellent info and clarification. 
Wasn't there a supposed Raynor in Statesville?


Rees:

Here's a March 2, 1923 Salisbury Evening Post article discussing Raynor and Statesville.

Sven


"As much as we have learned about the history of golf architecture in the last ten plus years, I'm convinced we have only scratched the surface."  A GCA Poster

"There's the golf hole; play it any way you please." Donald Ross

Ed Oden

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Re: Blowing Rock, NC - Ross and Raynor
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2015, 12:22:09 PM »
Sven, I believe you are correct on all accounts.  Kris Spence did a lot of reseach on the old Green Park course in connection with his work at Blowing Rock Country Club.  My understanding from Kris is that the property owner designed/built the original 9 hole course.  Raynor then came in and completely redesigned that 9 and added 9 more.  I assume that is the "new" 18 hole course referred to in the articles you posted.  To my knowledge, no one has found any evidence of Ross' involvement.  However, based on my conversations with people at BRCC, I don't think they have entirely ruled out that possibility.  FYI, there is also evidence that Banks worked on the course, but I can't remember exactly when.


Mayview was indeed a separate course a couple of miles away.  Kris does have an aerial.  I contacted Ross' granddaughter several years ago in search of plans she had that might have been for my club in Charlotte.  Turns out they were for Mayview and she sent them to Kris, who is also our consulting architect.  I don't recall whether it was the same as the map you posted.  But Kris compared the routing to his old aerial of the Mayview course and they matched, so there is little doubt that Mayview as constructed was designed by Ross.  The fact the Green Park and Mayview courses were largely contemporanous projects and that Mayview has been NLE for some time almost certainly is a big part of the confusion about BRCC.


Interesting on the Statesville course.  I wasn't aware of that.  If you have any more information, feel free to send it to me.  If the course was ever constructed, it is long gone now.  But I know plenty of people in Statesville and can see what I can find out locally.


All the best,


Ed
« Last Edit: December 25, 2015, 12:25:25 PM by Ed Oden »

hhuffines

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Re: Blowing Rock, NC - Ross and Raynor
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2016, 11:07:33 PM »
Ed,


Kris has posted Blowing Rock CC drawings on Twitter.  Do you have a map/routing that is close to the current course set up?  I can't remember it very well.


Hope you are well, thanks!  Hart

Kevin Robinson

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Re: Blowing Rock, NC - Ross and Raynor
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2016, 09:22:23 PM »
I first learned of the Raynor/Blowing Rock connection in 2002 and, being a native of Asheville and shocked to learn of a Seth Raynor course in my native WNC, decided to check it out.
I contacted the golf professional and course superintendent - neither of whom had ever heard the name Seth Raynor. I drove up to Blowing Rock that October, rode around the course with the superintendent, and reported back to George Bahto. I do not remember exactly where George got his info, but hè was reasonably certain that Raynor renovated 9 holes and added 9 of his own. In my drive-around with the superintendent, i only saw à handful of things that really stood out, all of which resided on the holes that had been taken out of the routing in the 80's when Tom Jackson came in and did some substantial work. The only thing I can recall from the 18 holes then in play was a vaguely punchbowl-like remnant on a par-four.
There were four holes, no longer being used, that looked to me to be the best candidates for having been Raynor holes. One was a Par-3 across the street from the clubhouse. The footprint of the green was still recognizable, and looked to have a noticable back-to-front cant. It also had a flat-bottomed bunker that wrapped around the back of the green. The pro told me that this hole had been the original first hole, with the tee across the road in front of the Inn. I assumed it unlikely Raynor would have begun the course with an Eden hole unless the nines were reversed. The next hole was a short Par-4 and went back across the road to the East, and culminated with a really scary pitch to a diagonally-slanted green with a very steep drop-off to a bunker dug into the side of the hill the green sat on. I'd guess the drop was something like 10-12 feet. The two remaining holes, a Par-4 and a Par-3, both ran downhill back to the rest of the course. Only the Par-3 was of any interest, but it bore more Than a passing resemblance to a Short hole, and George was pretty enthused when I shared my photo of the hole with him.
The club, to my knowledge, had little-to-no informatiion regarding the Raynor connection, and had, I believe, been playing up the Ross' connection for years. I passed along George's contact info to the pro, and thans really the last I ever heard of it.
As for how Raynor would up in what remains a fairy isolated area, it had to do with his MacDonald connections through the NGLA. The guys that bought the Green Park in the mid-20's were NY guys and that was the connection...according to George. In fact, there was a thread here on GCA a long time ago where George laid out the whole story, including Statesville CC.
I got interested in Statesville CC a while back, did some digging, found the original site on Google Earth (Nothing there now but houses and a church), and found some aerials of the course als well, courtesy of what George would have referred to as the "hysterical Society".
No noticable Raynor/Banks (George stated Statesville was almost all Banks) in the two photos I have, but the grens are grass in the photo, and I know they were originally sand, according to George, so they must have been taken no earlier than late-30's??
Sorry for the lousy grammar-my wife's iPad and the autocorrect is going muts in her native Dutch...
« Last Edit: August 13, 2016, 09:24:58 PM by Kevin Robinson »

Rees Milikin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Blowing Rock, NC - Ross and Raynor
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2016, 09:46:32 PM »
I first learned of the Raynor/Blowing Rock connection in 2002 and, being a native of Asheville and shocked to learn of a Seth Raynor course in my native WNC, decided to check it out.
I contacted the golf professional and course superintendent - neither of whom had ever heard the name Seth Raynor. I drove up to Blowing Rock that October, rode around the course with the superintendent, and reported back to George Bahto. I do not remember exactly where George got his info, but hè was reasonably certain that Raynor renovated 9 holes and added 9 of his own. In my drive-around with the superintendent, i only saw à handful of things that really stood out, all of which resided on the holes that had been taken out of the routing in the 80's when Tom Jackson came in and did some substantial work. The only thing I can recall from the 18 holes then in play was a vaguely punchbowl-like remnant on a par-four.
There were four holes, no longer being used, that looked to me to be the best candidates for having been Raynor holes. One was a Par-3 across the street from the clubhouse. The footprint of the green was still recognizable, and looked to have a noticable back-to-front cant. It also had a flat-bottomed bunker that wrapped around the back of the green. The pro told me that this hole had been the original first hole, with the tee across the road in front of the Inn. I assumed it unlikely Raynor would have begun the course with an Eden hole unless the nines were reversed. The next hole was a short Par-4 and went back across the road to the East, and culminated with a really scary pitch to a diagonally-slanted green with a very steep drop-off to a bunker dug into the side of the hill the green sat on. I'd guess the drop was something like 10-12 feet. The two remaining holes, a Par-4 and a Par-3, both ran downhill back to the rest of the course. Only the Par-3 was of any interest, but it bore more Than a passing resemblance to a Short hole, and George was pretty enthused when I shared my photo of the hole with him.
The club, to my knowledge, had little-to-no informatiion regarding the Raynor connection, and had, I believe, been playing up the Ross' connection for years. I passed along George's contact info to the pro, and thans really the last I ever heard of it.
As for how Raynor would up in what remains a fairy isolated area, it had to do with his MacDonald connections through the NGLA. The guys that bought the Green Park in the mid-20's were NY guys and that was the connection...according to George. In fact, there was a thread here on GCA a long time ago where George laid out the whole story, including Statesville CC.
I got interested in Statesville CC a while back, did some digging, found the original site on Google Earth (Nothing there now but houses and a church), and found some aerials of the course als well, courtesy of what George would have referred to as the "hysterical Society".
No noticable Raynor/Banks (George stated Statesville was almost all Banks) in the two photos I have, but the grens are grass in the photo, and I know they were originally sand, according to George, so they must have been taken no earlier than late-30's??
Sorry for the lousy grammar-my wife's iPad and the autocorrect is going muts in her native Dutch...


Thanks for the update and would be interested in seeing the aerials you have.

Brian Finn

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Re: Blowing Rock, NC - Ross and Raynor
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2017, 08:52:05 AM »
Regarding Blowing Rock, I know only what I've read on this site, but I've been following (on Twitter) with great interest the work being done by Kris Spence.  Below are a few photos, borrowed from his feed.  I'm very interested in learning more and hopefully seeing the course some day.

April 12th:  A few pics Blowing Rock Raynor project. 9, 10, 13 greens in full view close proximity of each other.



April 21st:  Approach to # 12



May 18th:  Newly restored Redan


« Last Edit: May 24, 2017, 08:56:47 AM by Brian Finn »
New for '23:  Cheraw SP, Grandfather, Clyne, Tenby, Pennard, Langland Bay, Southerndown, Pyle & Kenfig, Royal Porthcawl, Ashburnham, Rolls of Monmouth, Old Barnwell...
New for '24: Monifieth (2), Montrose (2), Panmure, Carnoustie (3), Scotscraig, Kingsbarns, Elie, Dumbarnie, Lundin...

Ed Oden

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Re: Blowing Rock, NC - Ross and Raynor
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2018, 12:25:57 PM »
I have a copy of “The Golf Course Guide” by Anthony Merrill in 1950 that I recently flipped through for the first time in a while. Merrill describes the Green Park-Norwood Golf Course as “a Seth Raynor course”. So it sounds like confusion about attribution is a relatively recent matter.

Jay Mickle

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Re: Blowing Rock, NC - Ross and Raynor
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2020, 01:56:31 PM »
The course seems to sit on very interesting land. Has anyone played it since the redo by Kris Spence? Was the Raynor restorable or did  Tom Jackson's "substantial work" thwart that option? Hoping to get there in the Spring. 
@MickleStix on Instagram
MickleStix.com

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