The idea for a gallery of paintings of some of America's best and most beautiful par-3 golf holes (page 44) originated with the artist, Donald Moss. Moss spent a summer of his youth driving from one New England course to another, playing every one he could find. Although his game these days is tennis, his affection for the visual pleasures of golf remains. "I'd always wanted to do a series of paintings of par-3s," says Moss. "They are esthetically the most pleasing."
The par-3 in the painting above is the 105-yard 9th at the Highland Golf Course on Cape Cod, and it is significant because it was on the Highland course that Moss' project got under way—in a way. Last July Golf Editor Walter Bingham, vacationing in Truro on Cape Cod, rediscovered a scruffy little nine-hole golf course at the foot of the 177-year-old Highland Light. The course, 3,025 yards of sand and weeds and scotch broom, is perched on the cliffs that tower over the Cape's Outer Beach and has been in use since 1892. One day when Bingham was playing Highland, a station wagon came flying toward him along the road that appears in the background of the painting. It was urgent, said the driver, that Bingham call New York immediately.
The message was from Art Director Dick Gangel, who outlined Moss' proposal and said Moss wanted to begin work immediately. Bingham said, "Fine. Tell him to consider the 13th at Merion and the 7th at Pebble Beach for a start and I'll talk to him when I get back."
By the time Bingham and Moss met in August the project had been narrowed somewhat—to short par-3s, nothing longer than 150 yards. Bingham and Writer Dan Jenkins contributed some suggestions and Moss had a few of his own, including a hole on another Cape Cod course. "When I heard that," says Bingham, "I said, half-jokingly, 'If you're on the Cape anyway, why not drive down to Highland Light and take a look at the 9th?' I think I even said, 'It's such a cute little thing.' "
May 19, 1974
Six months later Moss delivered the finished job, a glittering array of the finest par-3s the country has to offer—Merion, Pebble, Pine Valley, etc.—and Highland Light.
"I got a little sentimental," says Moss. "I've never been to Scotland but Highland must be like Scottish courses. The day in October I saw it was windy and bleak and there was a foursome playing in knickers."
Bingham says, "He's right. It's like Troon; it's a true links. There's no gorse but there's broom, and if your ball gets in it it's gone. And the fog can roll in so suddenly you don't believe it. On the 7th, which is also a par-3, sometimes you can't see the green, and your partner has to run ahead to spot your ball."
All the holes Moss painted could not be worked into the layout, and it was Bingham who decided that despite his and Moss' affection for Highland and the interest in it generated by Moss' cheerfully nostalgic painting he could not in conscience run it alongside the likes of Augusta and Pine Valley.
So here, as a kind of footnote to our story, is a par-3 you will probably never see again; unless, of course, you should find yourself on the Mid-Cape Highway someday, turning east toward Highland Light.