Donald Ross Course To Be Turned Into A Cemetary

The historic New Rogell golf course—designed by the legendary Donald Ross—has been sold and the new owners plan to turn it into a cemetery.

The course originally was built under the leadership of Max Fisher for Detroit’s Jewish community, who were excluded from membership in other country clubs. The initial layout for the first nine holes was done by Tom Bendelow. It opened in 1914 as the Phoenix Golf Club.

Phoenix Golf Club was sold to the city of Redford in 1921, having never quite caught on as a Jewish club. It was perhaps not located close enough to the Detroit area’s Jewish communities. Redford hired Donald Ross to redo the original nine and finish the layout.

The Redford Golf and Country Club lasted until 1945, when it was sold to the City of Detroit.

In 1979, the course was renamed the Rogell, after former Tigers ballplayer and city councillor Bill Rogell. Rogell, a shortstop had led the Tigers to a 1935 World Seriew victory over the Chicago Cubs. It was by all accounts not a happy period for the course, as it suffered greatly from neglect.

A glimmer of hope for the Ross course appeared in 2007, when it was purchased for $2.7 million by the mega-church Greater Grace Temple. Greater Grace poured money into restoration and renamed it “New Rogell.”

The church has given up the idea, however and the Ross design appears headed for bulldozering. The course is slated to close May 31.

It would be a real shame for this to go. I wonder if there’s a way that it could be designated as a historic site to preserve it.

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