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nperiod

Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« on: April 21, 2003, 03:44:46 PM »
I am a layman in the area of golf history and I come to this knowledgeable group in hopes of helping to save the old Ponce de Leon golf course in St. Augustine, Florida from demolition.
A little backgound...
Consultants hired by the demolisher / developer maintain that
modifications to the course through the years (shortening holes, remounding and expanding greens, eliminating three holes from play(they are a practice course) and adding three
new ones and changing the circulation of the course) have destroyed its historic integrity. The Donald Ross Society maintains the strategic set up is as relevant as it was when originally designed by Ross eighty-five yrs ago.

It was pointed out by Jamie Duffner in a post that there is a distinction "between changing a feature and altering a design intent". From this board I have gotten the impression feature
changes to older courses are very common but it is the design that makes an authentic Donald Ross.
 
Can anyone expand on these thoughts?

I realize this is a wide open question but what I am asking for is a beginning history /design lesson.

Thank you for your time and interest.

SAVE THE PONCE!

Nancy Sikes-Kline
St. Augustine, Florida

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:04 PM by -1 »

Steve_L.

Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2003, 07:27:34 PM »
This was discussed in some detail awhile back...  It's a shame - the original Ross layout mostly exists, just needs to be unearthed and put back in place.  

It's a gorgeous site and the golf course has a wonderful history and once had a beautiful clubhouse (burned in the '70's as I understand).

Unfortunately, this golf course has been for sale for several years and the movement to save it has lacked foresight - waiting until the 11th hour.  I'm disappointed in what I understand the development will become, and would love to see "The Ponce" saved and restored...

Any suggestions..?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Jim_Kennedy

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Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2003, 10:02:28 PM »
SteveL,
There are plenty of suggestions but the one that needs fulfilling is the $10,000,000 needed to buy the property from Charles Stokes and co., the developers.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
"I never beat a well man in my life" - Harry Vardon

John_Conley

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Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2003, 09:48:20 AM »
Nancy:

Why do you want to save the Ponce de Leon golf course?

To answer your question, the Ross Society can do a better job with a long answer.  Short version:  Evidence exists that Donald was on-site and that the course routing is little changed over the last 90 years.  Compare that to many of his designs that have been "redesigned", "renovated", or "improved" since the courses were first built.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

nperiod

Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2003, 10:55:13 AM »
Thank you for your very good responses.

First let me say I am a historic preservationist who was invited to join the fray very late. We preservationists in St. Augustine have an overwhelming amount of work to do. Even though we have recently saved a historic lighthouse, a historic bridge and turned back a four story parking garage in our National Landmark District we have lost much much more to demoltion.  But this aside, it is my experience that often it is exactly at the eleventh hour that many of our most treasured artifacts are saved.  

I don't know why that is.

That said, I am interested in seeing if the Ponce course is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.  So, one thing I must do is to understand the components that are "Donald Ross" and if a signifcant number of those components are still present.  

Another aspect are the historical events that took place at a location. In this case, one facinating point I found was that the Ponce opened in tandem with Henry Flagler's Alcazar Hotel at the height of Florida leisure architecture. The Alcazar was an overflow hotel for the old Ponce de Leon Hotel (now Flagler College). Most importantly, it added the necessary amenties to capture the attention and dollars of the elite. The nation's largest indoor bathing pool, on site bicylce riding stables and a world class golf course were nice additions to the pleasant weather.  

Anyway ... I am enjoying reading the posts on this board, a new facinating world has captured me and I commend you gentlemen on your passion.  

Enjoy!
 
Nancy
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Steve_L.

Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2003, 11:04:51 AM »
This is so controversial for a couple of reasons...

First - it is arguably Donald Ross's first golf course in the state of Florida...

Second - it was developed by Henry Flagler, the east coast railroad pioneer who put St. Augustine on the map as a major tourist destination at the turn of the century and subsequently created The Breakers in WPB.

Third - it is a beautiful site and the existing golf course is tantalizingly close to Ross's 1915 drawing hanging in the golf clubhouse.  Revisions have been made (see butchered) by Joe Lee and Desmond Muirhead - taking the golf course further from its original design.

I'm afraid we are past the point of no return on this one - economics and supply & demand don't support the viability of this golf course - historically significant or not...

This property has been for sale for many years - St. Augustine should've done what Winter Park did and preserve it rather than waiting until the 11th hour...
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

John_Conley

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Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2003, 11:11:38 AM »
Nancy:

The seminal book on Donald Ross was penned by my friend, Dr. Brad Klein. He participates on the board and may have some comments. He may have done a story for Golfweek about the course. It may not mention much about Ponce, but it will answer any question you might have as to who Donald Ross is and what he has done.

I must admit a little skepticism about Ponce. I have played there in the only round of golf my wife has set up for me. First and last, I assure you. Talk about sentimental value! Anyway, some people seem to be unwilling to let the course fail. There has not been sufficient demand to play the course and an unwillingness for someone to get the necessary money to protect the course. Why should someone want to stop commerce? The land is simply worth more as something other than a golf course. This is hardly unprecedented, as documented in Daniel Wexler's "Missing Links".

No one likes golf more than I do. However, Florida needs FEWER (not more) golf courses and every course closure is a step in the right direction.

Best of luck with your preservation/rescue. If successful, I promise to make a return trek - provided the greens fee is under $50 per round.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

John_Conley

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Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2003, 11:13:48 AM »

Quote
I'm afraid we are past the point of no return on this one - economics and supply & demand don't support the viability of this golf course - historically significant or not...

This property has been for sale for many years - St. Augustine should've done what Winter Park did and preserve it rather than waiting until the 11th hour...

Steve:

We seem to agree here.  Regarding my city of residence, are you referring to that joke of a house they moved off Interlachen to the city 9-hole?  What a fiasco that has been.

To all:

You'd be doing Nancy a tremendous service if you could retrieve the previous thread on Ponce de Leon.  I never seem to have much success using the search.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Craig Van Egmond

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Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2003, 11:29:04 AM »

John,

    I actually managed to find that thread called "End of a Historic Course" and brought it back up to the top. Its the first time I ever successfully found anything using the search feature.  ;D

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Evan Fleisher

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« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:04 PM by -1 »
Born Rochester, MN. Grew up Miami, FL. Live Cleveland, OH. Handicap 12.2. Have 24 & 21 year old girls and wife of 27 years. I'm a Senior Supply Chain Business Analyst for Vitamix. Diehard walker, but tolerate cart riders! Love to travel, always have my sticks with me. Mollydooker for life!

Steve_L.

Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2003, 01:00:01 PM »
John,

I was in your city two weeks ago, what a crazy thing it was with that house... I understand that the resident's essentially paid to relocate it - is that right..?

The little clubhouse at Winter Park is delightful - not too different from what existed pre-fire at Ponce de Leon.

I agree that Florida - and northern St. Johns County in particular are saturated with golf...

Nancy,

The earlier threads might be useful for you to look at...

All the best, Steve
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

John_Conley

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Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2003, 01:13:35 PM »
Steve:

Roger Holler, affluent car dealer and substantial land owner, sold his house to Wayne Heller, wealthy travel agent who sold his "Cruises Only" agency.  Heller said, "Great!  Can't wait to tear it down and build my dream home!"  All of a sudden everyone and their brother said how awful it was and that "Casa Feliz" must be saved.  No one cared about it until they found out someone didn't care about it.  There was no movement to buy it from Holler at market price.

Heller immediately filed suit and somehow the house was moved a year later.  It now rests on #9 of the city course.  The "crisis" here now is how to come up with the money just to maintain the relic.

It got so absurd that there is now a 30-day wait from the time you get a permit until you can act on it.  Enough time to get the townsfolk in a frenzy.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Steve_L.

Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2003, 05:41:56 PM »
I have an image of Donald Ross's original drawing of the Ponce de Leon (formerly St. Augustine Links) circa 1915/16.  If anyone knows how to post pictures and is interested, please let me know and I'll email it to someone capable of posting...

It's not a great scan, but worth seeing nevertheless...
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

nperiod

Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2003, 12:59:38 PM »
Steve,
Please email that to me @ nperiod@aol.com!

I don't know how to post a picture but still would love to see it.
By the way, I have found the information concerning the existing course vs. the original course very helpful.  But there is a term that I do not grasp.  

Routing.

Can you give me a Routing 101 class?

Nancy
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

nperiod

Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2003, 03:51:00 PM »
The St. Augustine newspaper is taking a poll online, would you ladies and gentlemen take a moment to vote?

Just scroll down to the bottom of the homepage and vote in the blue box.

http://www.staugustine.com/
 
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Steve_L.

Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2003, 06:35:12 PM »
Nancy,

Simplistically, routing is a term used for the layout of the 18-holes of a golf course.  Changes in "routing" involve changes in the sequence of the holes, or changes in the configuration of individual holes.  

In the case of the Ponce de Leon, the routing has been changed, with a few original Donald Ross holes which no longer exist, and circulation significantly revised.  The original layout did not have the 9th and 18th returning to the clubhouse area.

I'll email the scan to you...

Steve
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

michael_j_fay

Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2003, 08:57:10 AM »
The Ponce deLeon Golf Club is the outgrowth of the St. Augustine Links Club, which was established in St. Augustine in 1895. It is the oldest Golf Club in the State of Florida.

The course is a 1916 design by Donald Ross for the Florida East Coast Railroad. There are 12 original holes in play at the course and three that have been used as a par three course for some time. The three in mothballs can be reinstated without a great deal of difficulty. The course is in less than optimal condition and would need green resizing, bunker rebuilding and other work to make it as dsirable a course as it could be.

This is one of the very few real links courses in the Ross portfolio, it has wonderful views, good strategy and solid challenge at 6,800 yards.

Contrary to earlier opinion, this is one of the few courses that actually services the Community. While there are too many courses in north Florida, there are none that are home to six high school or college golf teams. It is one of the very few places where a teenager can play, walk and carry and not break the bank.

We at the Donald Ross Society are working with the Save The Ponce people and have written to the Historical Society of the State of Florida, the St. John's County Commissioners and the members of the St. Augustine City Council. We also helped to arrange a public forum on the Golf Channel to air the issue.

It is our position that the course is definately historic to the terms of protection and at the same time a vital asset to the County and Community.

Anyone interested in helping let me know.

MJFay
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Daryl "Turboe" Boe

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Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2003, 11:43:26 AM »
OK let me try this photo thing again. No promises. Also I do not know what kind of resolution this thing is going to look like, but here goes.

This is one of a series of photos I took of the original framed topographical map on the clubhouse wall. For anyone interested I also took a few closer up of sections of the map, as well as ones of each hole individually with varying degrees of success. In some holes cases the images have come out very crisp and clear, in others the glass glare or other factors made them tougher to see.



Evan, thanks for the advice that will make this thread easier to read.  I wish I could get the size to be somewhere between the two though, because it is now so small that it is hard to see anything.  Although the original caused the entire thread format to get spread out, it did allow you to see the individual holes on the topographical map.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:04 PM by -1 »
Instagram: @thequestfor3000

"Time spent playing golf is not deducted from ones lifespan."

"We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."

Evan Fleisher

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Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #18 on: April 24, 2003, 11:54:57 AM »
Turboe,

Edit your post just above mine, and take the ".orig.jpg" off of the end of the URL you are referencing and the image will appear, like this...

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:04 PM by -1 »
Born Rochester, MN. Grew up Miami, FL. Live Cleveland, OH. Handicap 12.2. Have 24 & 21 year old girls and wife of 27 years. I'm a Senior Supply Chain Business Analyst for Vitamix. Diehard walker, but tolerate cart riders! Love to travel, always have my sticks with me. Mollydooker for life!

Daryl "Turboe" Boe

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Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2003, 12:17:47 PM »
I guess anyone who wants to see it in more detail can always click on this link (or paste it) and see the large original that has more detail.

http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid60/p9cfa56e5a4329e27b79500fc389c3754/fc47b22a.jpg.orig.jpg

Enjoy,
Daryl

Well now why did that work?  For some reason it wont let you access that picture via that link even though it is the same address I used to link to the origial large image when I first posted it.  I dont understand how all this stuff works (or doesnt work) sometimes.  Maybe some of you who are wiser than I can either figure out how to find this image yourself via my area on Imagestation.com or maybe even explain why it now wont let people hyperlink directly to it.

Now, I just received an email with Steve's scanned version of this topo map and it looks much better than the photographed version I have, so I will try to post that also.  It may take some time with my dial up service to finish his down load to me, and subsequently upload it to cyberspace for posting, but I will try.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:04 PM by -1 »
Instagram: @thequestfor3000

"Time spent playing golf is not deducted from ones lifespan."

"We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."

Steve_L.

Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #20 on: April 24, 2003, 12:35:09 PM »
Michael,

I sent you an email...  Let me know if I can help.

By the way - I believe that my home course (St. Johns Golf & Country Club) is home to the Bartram Trail High School girls golf team - and South Hampton is home to the BTHS boys team.  Ponce de Leon is a high school home course, and home to Flagler College as well...

All the best.

Steve
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Daryl "Turboe" Boe

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Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #21 on: April 24, 2003, 12:56:43 PM »
Here is the scanned image vs. the photo.

Actually I am trying to crop it into two seperate photos to see if I can get better clarity.  Here goes.


Inland Holes



Marshside Holes
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:04 PM by -1 »
Instagram: @thequestfor3000

"Time spent playing golf is not deducted from ones lifespan."

"We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."

Forrest Richardson

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Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #22 on: April 24, 2003, 06:09:38 PM »
Steve L. -- What specifically do you feel Muirhead did to the course that constitutes "butchering"?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA
    www.golfgroupltd.com
    www.golframes.com

nperiod

Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #23 on: April 25, 2003, 01:53:56 PM »
Steve_L,

I went back and studied the older thread posted on this board. I appreciate you all helping me find it.

Steve, you seem to be in the best position to document what is original, modified and new about the course.

Would you care to go on the record with your opinions?
Just like many folks are coming from as far away as Scotland to personally document the experience of playing Donald Ross one last time, I feel it is very important to document this course's history of decline before it is lost forever. I hope you can help me.
 
An aside...
I was sad to hear of Joe Lee's passing this week signaling the end of an era, maybe a good era maybe a not so good era, but all the same part of the history of the noble game of golf's evolution.

I'll look forward to your response.

Nancy



« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

nperiod

Re: Save The Ponce de Leon a 1916 Donald Ross
« Reply #24 on: April 26, 2003, 02:35:48 PM »
The last club pro -Mary Hafeman, says that Muirhead did work on holes number 4,5 and 6. She states "he raised the tees and designed the par 3 hole number 5.  Changed 6 to a par 4 instead of a par 5."
Nancy
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

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