Nicklaus Design, the golf course design firm founded by legendary golfer and golf course designer Jack Nicklaus, recently announced a multi-year relationship with Winnapaug Golf Group, a Rhode Island golf and community development organization headed by Nicholas and Jill Scola.

The agreement brings Winnapaug, which was founded in 1922 and is celebrating its 100-year anniversary in 2022, together with Nicklaus Design, the recognized world leader in golf course design. 

As part of the relationship, Nicklaus Design will focus on the restoration work of the “Classic” Donald Ross design Winnapaug Golf Club in Westerly, Rhode Island, which is its first Nicklaus Design in the Ocean State.  The firm has designed courses in 40 states over the past 50 years. 

The mission of the Nicklaus Companies is to enhance the golf experience, elevating consumers and golf-related businesses to the high standards established in the career and life of 18-time major champion and golf course designer Jack Nicklaus. The organization has successfully designed more than 425 courses in 46 countries, with each project embodying the Nicklaus design philosophy – one that produces timeless, premium golf experiences and services.

The 18-hole Par 72 Winnapaug Golf Club measures approximately 6,400 yards and affords incredible views of the Long Island and Block Island Sounds and the Atlantic Ocean.  The restored course will offer an unapparelled golf experience for golfers of all ages and skill levels.  The easily accessible location, on Shore Road, scenic Rte. 1A, is situated minutes from the popular Misquamicut Beaches and a short drive to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun Casinos.

“Our ultimate goal is to provide an affordable, relaxing golf experience on a layout that will simulate private course conditions but with public access for our local and wider community to enjoy for the next 100 years. We’re certain that in leveraging the expertise and innovation of Nicklaus Design, the modernized course, when completed, will maintain the original Donald Ross characteristics that were intended when the course was built in 1922,” said Scola.

“It is our hope that this partnership will also be able to renew a true sense of community within the greater Westerly area by bringing people together, creating fun and making lasting memories for years to come,” added Jill Scola.

To ensure Donald Ross’ vision remains central in the restoration, Chad Goetz, Senior Design Associate for Nicklaus Design is working in collaboration with The Winnapaug Golf Group, Winnapaug Superintendent James Trichter and The Donald Ross Society.

The Donald Ross Society was founded in 1989 to recognize and safeguard the integrity of courses from the “Golden Era” of golf course architecture.  

Michael Fay founder of The Donald Ross Society said, “In our discussions with the Scolas we simply ask that the work in restoring the course be done correctly in accord with the standards and quality originally espoused by Donald Ross.  We understand that restoration and development are necessary for the 100-year-old course in order to remain functional and economically viable well into the future.  Visualizing the course in 2022 as it was in 1922 is our wish”

Fay continued, “Nicklaus Design is an A Plus company.  As a representative of The Society, I have complete confidence in them and their work.  Working with Nick Scola we’ve encountered an individual who understands our mission.  Winnapaug will be a real gem when it’s entirely finished.”

“We’ve conveyed a strong message to the Nicklaus group asking them to present plans that will reflect the concepts that Donald Ross would envision today, in 2022.  Donald Ross and his architectural work remains one of the most revered in all of golf design, even 100 years after the construction of this course. Our decision to partner with Nicklaus Design ultimately came down to our shared vision of honoring his legacy and vision through this restoration, while mirroring the modern standards Nicklaus Design ensures in its restoration work.” noted Scola.

“Nicklaus Design is excited that the Scolas are giving us the opportunity to work alongside The Donald Ross Society.  This is not only our first course in Rhode Island but is also our first foray in modernizing one of Donald Ross’ original courses.  It’s an honor to add Winnapaug to our worldwide portfolio of courses,” said Paul Stringer, President of Nicklaus Design.

“We have complete confidence that the people of the greater Westerly area, Rhode Island and southern New England will be very pleased with the results when the restoration is complete,” concluded Stringer.

According to plans, the overall restoration and modernization of the course, which will breathe new life into The Winnapaug Golf Club, is expected to begin in October and continue during the winter seasons for the next two to three years.  In addition to the work on the course, other plans include a new clubhouse with a pro shop, restaurant and banquet hall that will accommodate weddings and other events.  

Plans also include a hotel and one-and two-bedroom suites throughout the course, providing a pleasant golfing experience for the suite residents and groups wishing to rent for golf trips and weekends.

“The ultimate plan is to have and develop an all-inclusive facility that will provide a resort atmosphere to golfers and visitors and will enhance the existing layout.  Our goal is to provide affordable, and a quality golf experience with the help of Nicklaus Design, featuring travel packages and course accommodations so everyone can enjoy the beautiful community Westerly and Rhode Island has to offer year-round.” said Scola.

The collaborative work of The Winnapaug Golf Group, Nicklaus Design and The Donald Ross Society brings together the work of two of the premiere names in golf course design in the 20th and 21st centuries, Donald Ross and Nicklaus Design.  Upon completion of the restoration and modernization, golfers will be able to enjoy golf at its finest at The Winnapaug Golf Club.

“In looking forward, I believe that if Donald Ross was alive today, he would be proud and excited about the renovations that are planned at Winnapaug,” said Scola.  

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