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Alister MacKenzie Golf Courses

from the Experts in Golf Holidays

⏱ 6 min read

Augusta National, USA

The Course Doctor

Augusta National, Cypress Point and Royal Melbourne all have two things in common, they have become an icon in the game of golf and they were all designed by Dr Alister MacKenzie.

Originally a surgeon, MacKenzie served in the Boer War and World War I but abandoned medicine to join Harry Colt, the first architect to devote a career solely to designing golf courses.

Alister MacKenzie Facts

Name Dr Alister MacKenzie
Born 30 Aug, 1870
Died 6 Jan, 1934
Nationality English
The 2017 Masters Round-Up with Mark Crossfield, Coach Lockey & YGT Rory

Best Alister MacKenzie Golf Courses

Alister MacKenzie is regarded as one of the best golf course architects in golf. His legacy is evident across many of the golf courses that feature within the Top 100 Golf Courses in the World. MacKenzie's creations are seen at Augusta National, the home of The Masters Tournament each year, where he combined his design flair with one of the game's most respected golfers, Bobby Jones, to create an enduring masterpiece that regularly features as the #1 golf course in the world. MacKenzie was also responsible for the layout enjoyed at the uber-private Cypress Point Golf Club.

This Californian beauty lies just moments from Pebble Beach Golf Links and is considered to be one of the most beautiful golf courses anywhere in the world. MacKenzie's golf course design skills saw him create further iconic Australian golf courses at Royal Melbourne Golf Club and Kingston Heath Golf Club as well as Argentina's The Jockey Club which boasts 36 holes of stunning golf that are revered around the globe.

Augusta National

Every April, the golf world descends on the state of Georgia in America for The Masters at probably MacKenzie’s best known course.

After a disappointing U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach in 1929, Bobby Jones played Cypress Point and was very impressed with the layout. When the two men met a wonderful partnership was formed and MacKenzie was chosen to be the architect of Augusta National.

Both men believed in creating holes which demanded keen attention to strategy from the player's perspective, with an array of angles from which the hole could be approached.

With Jones hitting test shots at MacKenzie's side they went on to create what many call the perfect puzzle for the masters of the game.

Augusta National 13th hole
Augusta National 13th hole
Augusta National 12th hole
Augusta National 12th hole
Augusta National
Augusta National
Augusta National 16
Augusta National 16
Augusta National 12
Augusta National 12
Augusta National 3
Augusta National 3
Augusta National 6
Augusta National 6

About Alister MacKenzie

Born in West Yorkshire to Scottish parents, it’s no wonder that Alister MacKenzie was a member of numerous golf clubs from an early age. A man of many talents and skills,, he trained as a doctor at Cambridge University, followed by a lengthy period as a wartime surgeon in Africa during the Second Boer War.

Never an accomplished golfer, MacKenzie went beyond his 60th year before managing to improve his ball striking, enabling to card scores in the seventies and low eighties.

One of MacKenzie’s earliest designs was Alwoodley Golf Club, where he served in a number of roles including secretary and captain. Due to his inexperience at the time, the club committee sent for Harry Colt to provide a second opinion on the quality of the design.

Mr. Colt obliged and made the trip, finding many similarities between his own designs and MacKenzie’s at Alwoodly. He noticed undulating greens, free form bunkers and contouring were all extensions of his own ideas.

After World War I, MacKenzie pursued his career as a golf course designer, teaming up with Harry Colt and Charles Alison to form Colt, MacKenzie & Alison, but went solo after four years. He also charted the Old Course at St Andrews and by 1915, found himself a member of the R&A. A map he created in 1924 still hangs in the Royal and Ancient clubhouse to this day.

His legacy lives on with such golf clubs as Lahinch, Royal Melbourne and Cypress Point on his CV, but the crown jewel is surely Augusta National Golf Club, the annual host of The Masters.

Sadly, just two months before the first Masters Tournament, Alister MacKenzie passed away in Santa Cruz, California. An golf course design manuscript was found after his death and posthumously published, titled ‘The Spirit of St Andrews’.

Recommended Alister MacKenzie Heathland Classics

While Alister MacKenzie created a host of household names across the world, his work is also enjoyed across the UK and Ireland with many sensational golf courses still benefitting from his architectural brilliance today. These include the Yorkshire trio that hosted The Ryder Cup with Ganton Golf Club, Moortown Golf Club and Lindrick Golf Club. Other stand out golf courses created by MacKenzie include Alwoodley Golf Club which is just a short drive from Moortown, creating a MacKenzie golf break that'll be a truly great golfing memory.

Recommended Alister MacKenzie Links Golf Courses

Whilst he was able to create a host of amazing heathland golf courses in England that feature within the Top 100 rankings, MacKenzie also created some sensational links golf courses with the likes of Castletown Golf Links in the Isle of Man, Lahinch Golf Club in Ireland and Littlestone Golf Club in Kent. These courses enjoy a similar design philosophy of undulating, angled greens to impact the approach as well as large bunkers which flow into both the greens and fairways.

Recommended Alister MacKenzie Golf Courses outside the British Isles

As one of the most well-travelled golf course architects, not just of his time but in history, Alister MacKenzie was able to create golf courses on no less than four continents. His work in Australian saw MacKenzie provide design advice to 19 golf clubs. His legacy here saw the creation of top-ranked golf courses including Royal Melbourne, Royal Adelaide, The Australian and Victoria Golf Club.

MacKenzie travelled over to New Zealand to assist the layout at Titirangi near Auckland before embarking on a long journey by boat to create the likes of The Jockey Club and Uruguay. MacKenzie's work in the US isn't limited to just Cypress Point and Augusta National but also to Pasatiempo which is regarded as one of the most enjoyable courses in California and one that MacKenzie held close to heart, making his home by the 6th fairway.

Other Alister MacKenzie Golf Course Designs

Australia Golf Courses
Victoria Golf Club

England Golf Courses
Teignmouth Golf Club
Harrogate Golf Club
Ilkley Golf Club
Pannal Golf Club
Sand Moor Golf Club
Scarborough South Cliff Golf Club
Weston-super-Mare Golf Club

Ireland Golf Courses
Cork Golf Club
Douglas Golf Club
Galway Golf Club

Scotland Golf Courses
Blairgowrie Golf Club
Bruntsfield Links

Alister MacKenzie's Course Design Principles

• The course, where possible, should be arranged in two loops of nine holes.
• There should be a large proportion of good two-shot holes, and at least four one-shot holes.
• There should be little walking between the greens and tees, and the course should be arranged so that in the first instance there is always a slight walk forwards from the green to the next tee; then the holes are sufficiently elastic to be lengthened in the future if necessary.
• The greens and fairways should be sufficiently undulating, but there should be no hill climbing.
• Every hole should be different in character.
• There should be a minimum of blindness for the approach shots.
• The course should have beautiful surroundings, and all the artificial features should have so natural an appearance that a stranger is unable to distinguish them from nature itself.
• There should be a sufficient number of heroic carries from the tee, but the course should be arranged so that the weaker player with the loss of a stroke, or portion of a stroke, shall always have an alternate route open to him.
• There should be infinite variety in the strokes required to play the various holes – that is, interesting brassie shots, iron shots, pitch and run up shots.
• There should be a complete absence of the annoyance and irritation caused by the necessity of searching for lost balls.
• The course should be so interesting that even the scratch man is constantly stimulated to improve his game in attempting shots the has hitherto been unable to play.
• The course should so be arranged that the long handicap player or even the absolute beginner should be able to enjoy his round in spite of the fact that he is piling up a big score. In other words, the beginner should not be continually harassed by losing strokes from playing out of sand bunkers. The layout should be so arranged that he loses strokes because he is making wide detours to avoid hazards.
• The course should be equally good during winter and summer, the texture of the greens and fairways should be perfect and the approaches should have the same consistency as the greens.
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