Inaugural Donald Ross Invitational a "Smashing Success" - Carr Golf Travel

Inaugural Donald Ross Invitational a “Smashing Success”


The inaugural Donald Ross Invitational was a smashing success. The two-person team competition was hosted at spellbinding Royal Dornoch on October 8 – 12.

Played beneath clear blue skies in lovely 60 degree weather, the tournament brought together members of Donald Ross golf clubs and fans of the famed course designer.

Donald Ross Invitational

Born in the town of Dornoch in 1872, Ross immigrated to America in 1899 and became known as the “Father of U.S. Golf Course Architecture.” His world-class designs include Pinehurst No. 2, Aronimink Golf Club, East Lake Golf Club, Seminole Golf Club, Oak Hill Country Club, Inverness Club and Oakland Hills Country Club. Over 100 U.S. national championships have been played on his courses.

A special congratulations must go to the winners of the three divisions of the inaugural Donald Ross Invitational.

  • Weekly Best Stableford: Tom Scarbrough and Sean Tobin (Country Club of Orlando)
  • Weekly Best Gross: Nikki Christie (Carnoustie Golf Links) and Gareth Hall (Royal Dornoch Golf Club)
  • Best Ball Stableford (from tournament sponsor Donald Ross Sportswear): Nathan Hoffman and Rob Stein (Brookfield Country Club)

Bradley Klein Donald Ross Invitational


The event kicked off with a practice round at Brora Golf Club, the fine James Braid layout established in 1891. After a fun and challenging 18, participants enjoyed a welcome drinks reception and buffet dinner at Royal Dornoch Golf Club.

All three tournament rounds were contested at famed Royal Dornoch, rated No. 5 by Golf Digest in its “World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses,” where Ross developed his passion for playing golf as a boy. Acclaimed as one of the finest links-style layouts in the world, its superb routing and use of raised putting surfaces was a major influence on his roughly 400 design projects.

Eric Mendell Donald Ross Invitational










The lively competition was complemented by nightly entertainment. Following the first round, participants headed to the Carnegie Courthouse, an important part of the Dornoch community since the mid-1800s, for a memorable evening. After a buffet dinner, they were treated to an audience with noted golf course architecture writer Bradley Klein, author of “Discovering Donald Ross” and winner of the Donald Ross Award. Klein was kind enough to answer audience questions on Donald Ross golf course architecture as part of an informal Q&A. A whisky tasting capped off the festive evening.

After the second round, guests dressed up for a gala dinner and entertainment at the Royal Golf Hotel. Prior to being seated for the gala dinner, the entire party stood for the address to a haggis, a great Scottish tradition.

Scottish Haggis Donald Ross Invitational


In the end, the competition was won by Tom Scarborough and Sean Tobin playing out of the Country Club of Orlando. When speaking of the charismatic Scarbrough, tournament participant, Julian Douglas said. “Tom is a great gentleman who must have drunk the elixir or everlasting youth and has a wicked sense of humor. He’s retired from insurance but could have made as much money telling jokes. He was supported by a super golfer in Sean, who hits the ball further than I could jog.” To read his his recap of the Donald Ross Invitational, click here.

The event concluded with a prize giving ceremony at Royal Dornoch followed by a farewell dinner at Luigi Restaurant. For photos of the tournament, click here.

“It was a thrill to host this joyous occasion at Royal Dornoch as it celebrates the genius and memory of Donald Ross on the course where he learned to love the game,” says Marty Carr, executive chairman of Carr Golf. “Due to the incredible inaugural success, we look forward to announcing exciting details on our plans for 2018 as we now have another signature event for our guests and clients on our annual calendar.”

Tom Scarbrough and Sean Tobin

Championship winners, Sean Tobin and Tom Scarbrough celebrating the win with their better halves.

Non-golfers also had an action-packed trip joining the golfers for the evening activities and exploring Dornoch and the surrounding area during the day. Their itinerary included a candle-making master class workshop at Coast Candle Co. and visits to the Historylinks Museum, Urquhart Castle, Dunrobin Castle and Balblair Whisky Distillery.

While dates for next year’s tournament haven’t been finalized yet, it’s not too early to start getting excited for the second annual Donald Ross Invitational. Information about the 2018 event will be posted here as it becomes available.