From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten:
Authenticity is what golf architecture fans (and architecture writers) seek first and foremost when searching out a Donald Ross design. In my opinion, Triggs Memorial Golf Course in Providence, R.I. is a very pleasant, very authentic Donald Ross product, with the added bonus of being a public layout, available for all to study and enjoy.
The original hole-by-hole diagrams hanging in the grill room (minus the 18th hole, presumably now gracing the wall of some golfer’s mancave) verify that almost every hole and every bunker are still as Ross first envisioned them. This is one of those courses that Ross actually visited, according to newspaper reports of the day. His summer office was in Little Compton, in the southeast corner of Rhode Island, just a couple of hours away. Ross walked the land on at least two occasions, once before making a routing, then again while designing particular holes.
The biggest change to his original plan involves the 10th hole. Ross had it as a 457-yard par 4, with the course playing as a par 71. The 10th is now a 513-yard par 5, lengthened years ago apparently to boost par to 72, and giving it three par 5s on the back nine. The course was 6,530 yards when it opened, and 6,522 yards today, so a few holes have lost a tiny bit of yardage, but probably due to remeasurement rather than removal of back tees.
When the course (which would be named in honor of Jeremiah Triggs, the longtime parks superintendent of Providence) was constructed in 1933 (using Civil Works Administration workers), it was in the rural Mount Pleasant area of northwest Providence. The site was the old Obadiah Brown Yorkshire cattle farm. Old articles describe holes edged by corn fields. Today, Triggs is land locked, surrounded by an elementary school, a high school, Rhode Island College and middle-class homes.
Though pastureland in the beginning, the course is now well treed, but unlike a lot of wide-open Ross courses that became over-treed by willy-nilly green-committee plantings in the 1960s, most of the mature trees at Triggs don’t impact strategies. A couple of big maples on the inside corner of the dogleg-left 319-yard 16th do block shots from a fairway bunker on the left, but I'd fill in the bunker before I'd knock down the trees. From the original diagram, those trees were there. That fairway bunker wasn’t.
The greens seem well-preserved, both in their sizes and canted nature. Bunker placement is also intact. A few holes have bunkers well short of greens, "deceptive" bunkers, we like to call them. In truth, they were originally positioned not to complicate depth perception but rather to serve as legitimate hazards to approach shots. In the days before automatic irrigation, greens (and approaches into greens) were much drier and firmer. You literally had to pitch the ball just over a bunker 40 yards short of a green to have much chance of stopping it on the putting surface. Today, of course, the same shot will probably stop 30 yards short of the green, so those bunkers are anachronistic. Still, it's great to see those things preserved, because Ross always built them in such an artistic fashion that the holes would be less aesthetic without them.
There are some greenside bunkers that have been filled with sand so often over the years that they're now elevated above the level of green, and the faces of the bunkers on the downhill par-3 14th had been inappropriately grassed over, but from the looks of the recently reconstructed bunkers on the ninth and elsewhere, the superintendent is slowly reclaiming the original size, shape, depth and look of Donald's bunkers. As that continues, Triggs Memorial will look and play as an even more authentic Donald Ross jewel.