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MCirba

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Mingo Springs (ME) - Front Nine - Donald Ross?
« on: May 17, 2022, 07:14:15 AM »
This may be a new one.   Two summers ago Tom Dunne and I had played Sugarloaf Resort in Maine and rather than subsequently quit the game ;)  , we decided to squeeze in nine holes elsewhere to get our heads together before the dinner event.   We had heard good things from Michael Moore about Mingo Springs Golf Course, about 1/2 hour away which is today made up of 2 of the 3 courses listed in this article.   Mr. Moore indicated that both nines were worthy but that the front nine (which is the 3rd nine mentioned in the article) was pretty special.

I had done some preliminary research and the oldest course listed had origins from Arthur Fenn but I'm not 100% it's the 1st course mentioned here.   In any case, this June 6th, 1954 Boston Globe article indicates that at least one of the courses there was designed by Donald Ross and  I would say neither Tom nor I would have much reason for doubt as it was a wild and wooly affair that used the terrain magnificently.


I have never previously seen any information re: Donald Ross designing the nine holes of "Rangeley Lake Country Club" which is today the front nine of Mingo Springs.   I don't believe the club is aware but I'll be sure to share this information with them.  **NOTE** - I've also added this information to Sven's wonderful "Re-understanding Ross" thread for completeness.


« Last Edit: May 17, 2022, 07:16:30 AM by MCirba »
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

Brad Tufts

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Mingo Springs (ME) - Front Nine - Donald Ross?
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2022, 04:15:44 PM »
Very cool find Mike!


I will have to get up to Mingo Springs...the allure of history in the northwoods will definitely get me over there at some point.


I'm headed up to Northern Maine on Friday...I might just make a detour and get used to the flies!
So I jump ship in Hong Kong....

Chris_Blakely

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Re: Mingo Springs (ME) - Front Nine - Donald Ross?
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2022, 08:57:11 PM »
My brother and I really enjoyed the front 9 course.  The back 9 across the street was on the flatter less interesting terrain and did not stand out to us at all.


Thanks
Chris

Sven Nilsen

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Re: Mingo Springs (ME) - Front Nine - Donald Ross?
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2022, 10:07:23 AM »
Another case where it would be nice to see a contemporaneous account of Ross' involvement.

If you go to the course's online history page (https://www.mingosprings.com/about-us), you can read about the 1920's advent of the Rangeley Lakes Country Club 9 hole course and the nearby 9 holes at the Mingo Springs Hotel.  This page also discusses plans for an additional 9 holes for the Rangeley Lakes Country Club course that were never realized.  Both of these courses seemingly survived into the 1960's when they were combined as one 18 hole unit to preserve them from the threats of development.  That is the Mingo Springs GC that exists today.

From this account, it would appear that both nines at the current Mingo Springs predate the 1932 date for a new course cited in the article Mike posted.  But that story doesn't really match up with the newspaper accounts.

It probably makes sense to gather everything we have on the history of golf in Rangeley to try to decipher this one.

Rangeley Lake Hotel Golf Course (aka Rangeley GC and Rangeley Lake Hotel Golf Links)

1877 - Hotel built
1895 - Hotel moved and expanded
1898 - Course built (Nov. 5, 1898 Sun-Journal)

1899 Official Golf Guide - notes the course as in existence
[IMG width =400]https://hosting.photobucket.com/images/cc435/snilsen7/Rangeley_Lake_Hotel_Golf_Links_-_Official_Golf_Guide_1899.png?width=1920&height=1080&fit=bounds
1900 Brooks Brothers Golf Guide - notes the course as in existence
1916 - 1938 - noted in the various Annual Guides during this period as a 9 hole course.
1958 - Property razed after hotel was closed for World War II and purchased by Sheraton in 1946

I suspect (but haven't confirmed) that the course was also known as the Oquossoc GC, which is noted in the 1900 Harpers as a 6 hole course laid out by A. H. Fenn and was noted in an April 2, 1899 Boston Globe article as having been organized in 1898 with a 6 hole course.



Map of the course from 1922 -



From the map of the course it is evident this course was located on the lake shore in what today is the town of Rangeley a bit east of the location of Mingo Springs GC.  This is the first course noted in the 1952 article.

Mingo Springs GC

Not noted in any of the 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929 or 1931 Annual Guides.
1938 Golf Guide - noted as a 9 hole 3,050 yard course with a date of organization of 1924.

The first mention in the newspapers I can find for this course is in 1924.

Rangeley Lakes Country Club

The club is note mentioned in any of the Annual Guides.  The first mention I can find of this club is the sale of land from Mingo Springs Inc. to the club in 1931.  An Aug. 10, 1932 Sun-Journal article notes this as a new course.



A Sept. 5, 1933 Bangor Daily News article notes this course as one of 14 18 hole courses in Maine.  A series of articles from later in the 1930's and the early 1940's note the 54 hole Rangeley Open which had 18 holes of play on each of the three courses noted here (the articles do not mention if the courses where of 9 or 18 holes at that time.   

Summary

There were clearly three separate courses in Rangeley.  What is unclear is when the third course was built.  From the contemporaneous accounts it would appear that the Rangeley Lakes CC course was built in the early 1930's, which doesn't match the historical description of today's Mingo Springs GC.  It is also uncertain to me whether or note the Rangeley Lakes CC course ever had 18 holes, or if the description of the 18 hole course was noting a combination of the two adjacent courses.

It is possible that Donald Ross was involved with the construction of this course, but it would be nice to see something from that time period confirming the information in the 1952 article.  At this point in his career, almost all of his activities were reported in the press.  Perhaps something will pop up to shed some more light.

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

MCirba

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Re: Mingo Springs (ME) - Front Nine - Donald Ross?
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2022, 02:46:35 PM »
Sven,


Thanks very much for that information.    I have more to share around the evolution of golf courses and associated hotels/properties that I hope will be helpful to us here and I'll try to get to that this weekend.   Sadly, I see based on the initial property map you shared that it seems we can take Arthur Fenn out of the picture as it's clear his earliest course in Rangeley was not on the property of today's course.


Following is an article from the Lewiston Daily Sun on July 27, 1937 that talks a bit more about Rangeley Lakes Country Club and "Jack" Cottrell.   


« Last Edit: May 20, 2022, 02:49:31 PM by MCirba »
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

MCirba

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Mingo Springs (ME) - Front Nine - Donald Ross?
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2022, 11:30:36 AM »
Sven,


Please see the following information from "Mingo Springs Hotel - The Early Days", by Gary Priest.


It appears that both the Mingo Springs Hotel (and subsequent golf course built around 1924) and the later Rangeley Lakes Country Club were under the ownership of father and namesake son John B. "Jack" Cottrell by 1918.   The Cottrell's were well-to-do from Plainfield, NJ and took a controlling interest in the town by the 20s.   The younger Cottrell was also quite the golfer and became the pro at the later club in the 1930s.   Please see the following which is helpful to understand the evolution.








"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

MCirba

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Mingo Springs (ME) - Front Nine - Donald Ross?
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2022, 11:36:15 AM »
Sorry for the sizing...let me try again.











"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

Brad Tufts

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Re: Mingo Springs (ME) - Front Nine - Donald Ross?
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2022, 10:46:02 AM »
Hi Mike and Sven,


Great research!


I was able to play Mingo Springs GC this past Friday late afternoon on my way to points North and East, and I was greeted with a gorgeous low-60s breezy day that kept the flies away!


The course is certainly a hidden gem, as I enjoyed the views, the thoughtfully-used land for golf, and the golden-age shot values.  Mingo might have the smallest set of greens in America for a full-length course, as a few of them are under 1500 sq. feet, including one at the end of the 227-yard 7th hole, which is no doubt the toughest par three in Maine that I have played.


The brief history lesson I received in the pro shop generally follows the website history, with the added tidbit that the two adjacent nines were developed separately as two different resorts that catered to Christian and Jewish visitors, respectively.  It was pointed out with pride that descendants of the non-exclusionary group eventually outlasted the other and combined the courses.  I didn't mention the Donald Ross connection, which seems perhaps a bit less likely given the research.


My biggest focus while flying around the course alone was "Could I recognize a barely-modified-since-the-20s Ross course if I saw one?"  There were things that showed a lack of funds...circular greens smaller than fillpads, a few filled-in bunkers...but of course the effort required to keep the northwoods at bay for 100 years is a massive one, so the course in that respect was very well-maintained.  There were a few clunker holes, mainly on the second nine...but overall it's totally worth a play, and if ever in the Rangely or Northern NH region, which is just gorgeous, it's a must-play.


We are well-versed as GCA people of how interpretively-restored Ross looks, or how Ross holes looked in old photos.  My question is if we were given mid-20s Ross holes as-built on the ground in a place like Rangeley, Maine with no other info...would we immediately scream "this is Ross"?  I think his courses were diverse enough in design, budget, and construction associate that we might have trouble!
So I jump ship in Hong Kong....

Mike Sweeney

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Re: Mingo Springs (ME) - Front Nine - Donald Ross?
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2022, 06:53:50 PM »
Brad,


Pics? I was there in 2013. I definitely remember it as "two courses", and as you expressed, was very fun to play.


Thanks
"We need to allow people to make decisions for themselves and their local communities and families. Trying to tie everything into one package simply does not work." 5/11/21

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