In March 1899 Donald left Dornoch and arrived in the United States with seven dollars in his pocket, his task was to build and run the Oakley Country Club in Watertown, Boston, Massachusetts. His move to the USA followed advice from Professor Robert Willson of Harvard University. Willson had spent many summers playing golf in Scotland and he prevailed on Donald to consider a move to the United States of America believing Donald could command $60 a month, plus 50 cents an hour for lessons, three times his earnings in Dornoch.
By 1900 Donald Ross had successfully redesigned the course at Oakley Country Club and James Walker Tuffts, a local land owner, offered Ross the opportunity to take sole responsibility for the development of the Pinehurst Golf Resort for which he would later be the Professional. Donald would be responsible for designing and rebuilding four courses at Pinehurst with his masterpiece being course No.2. Drawing upon his extensive background in turf grass management, he revolutionized southern green keeping practices when he oversaw the transition of the putting surfaces at No. 2 from oiled sand to Bermuda grass.
During his summers, Ross started designing and building courses throughout New England. Eventually, his practice spread into the Midwest and down the Southeast coast. In association with design assistants J.B. McGovern and Walter Hatch, Ross maintained a summer office in Little Compton, Rhode Island and satellite offices in North Amherst, Massachusetts, and Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.
For the rest of his life, apart from the considerable time he spent travelling as he designed courses, he would follow the pattern of spending the winter season in Pinehurst and the spring and summer in the north. Donald was granted American citizenship in 1921 but he remained loyal and supportive to his relatives and friends in Scotland, returning on summer visits to Moniave and Dornoch.
When Donald Ross had spare time he still enjoyed playing the game of golf, competing on both sides of the pond. His best finish in his career was 5th in US Open at Baltusrol 1903. Other notable achievements were winning three North & South Opens (1903, 1905, 1906), two Massachusetts Opens (1905, 1911) and finishing eighth in the 1910 British Open at St Andrews. His younger brother and apprentice Alec won US Open in 1907 at The Philadelphia Cricket Club.