Donald Ross and His Total Gem
Hope Valley Country Club is the "total gem" of Donald James Ross (1872 - 1948), golf's most famous and prolific architect. Of the 385 courses designed by Ross, perhaps only at Hope Valley in Durham, North Carolina did he have such a comprehensive role.
Even before the citizens organizing the club would accept the real estate developer's offer of a golf course, they insisted Donald Ross see the property and determine if it was suitable for a "high grade golf course and country club." Moreover, Ross designed the course, made on-site inspections during construction, shared in planning its surrounding roads and buffer land, and had a personal acquaintance with the club architect.
Equally unique, the course of today is almost identical to the original 1926 layout of Hope Valley. Not that changes were never made at Hope Valley. Four well-known architects, Perry Maxwell, Dan Maples, John LaFoy and Brian Silva have left their imprint. Members and their guests are reminded on the score card: "When you play Hope Valley, you are part of golf history.”
In 1945 Byron Nelson won the second Durham Open on Easter, April 1, with a 71-69-72-65 (276), the only score under par. More importantly it was Nelson's fourth victory in an 11 consecutive streak. A brisk breeze and Hope Valley's fast, undulating greens frustrated most of the field, including Sam Snead, who four-putted one green from 20 feet.
In the Fall of 1945 Frank Stranahan captured the third Durham Open, the second PGA tour tournament played at Hope Valley that year. The amateur Adonis Stranahan, won by a stroke over Porky Oliver and by two strokes over Ben Hogan. Another amateur, Lt. Cary Middlecoff, had won the North and South Open at Pinehurst immediately preceding Hope Valley. 1945 must have been a bonanza for amateurs. Simon-pure Fred Hass halted Nelson's streak at 11 by nosing out Lord Byron at the Memphis Open later that fall.
In 1951 Doug Sanders won the Junior Amateur Championship at Hope Valley. He considered the win as pivotal to his career. He wrote in his book Compact published by Thomas Y. Crowell in 1964, "My first big tournament victory, the Jaycee International Junior Championship at Hope Valley Country Club in Durham, North Carolina, won me a scholarship to the University of Florida." Sanders also said the Hope Valley win inspired him to establish the Doug Sanders International Junior program in which as many as 100,000 youngsters from 45 countries have competed.
In 1955 Mike Souchak, Hope Valley resident and member, shot the lowest 72 hole score in PGA TOUR history at the time. Mike’s total of 257 at the Texas Open in San Antonio was his first tour victory. He then followed that great accomplishment by winning four TOUR events the following year, more than any other Professional in 1956.