Alister MacKenzie

Last updated

Alister MacKenzie
Dr. Alister MacKenzie LCCN2014719212.jpg
Dr. Alister MacKenzie
Born(1870-08-30)30 August 1870
Normanton, Yorkshire, England
Died6 January 1934(1934-01-06) (aged 63)
NationalityBritish
Alma mater Cambridge University
OccupationArchitect
Design

Alister MacKenzie (30 August 1870 – 6 January 1934) was a golf course architect whose course designs span four continents. Originally trained as a surgeon, MacKenzie served as a civilian physician with the British Army during the Boer War where he first became aware of the principles of camouflage. During the First World War, MacKenzie made his own significant contributions to military camouflage, which he saw as closely related to golf course design. [1]

Contents

MacKenzie is amongst the most famous golf architects in history. [2] He is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and designed more than 50 golf courses, including three that remain in Golf Digest's 2022 Top 10 golf courses in the world: Augusta National Golf Club and Cypress Point Club in the US, and Royal Melbourne Golf Club (West Course) in Australia. [3]

Early years and education

MacKenzie was born on 30 August 1870 in Normanton, near Leeds in Yorkshire, England, to parents of Scottish extraction. His mother, Mary Jane Smith MacKenzie, had family roots in Glasgow. His father, William Scobie MacKenzie, a medical doctor, had been born and raised in the Scottish Highlands near Lochinver. Although christened after his paternal grandfather Alexander, he was called "Alister" (Gaelic for Alexander) from birth. As a youth, MacKenzie and his family spent summers near Lochinver, on what had been traditional Clan MacKenzie lands from 1670 to 1745. MacKenzie's strong identification with his Scottish roots featured prominently in many aspects of his later life. [4]

MacKenzie attended Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield, before going up to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he initially trained as a medical doctor, graduating from Cambridge University in 1891 with a B.A. (Natural Science Tripos Part 1), with honours, third class, before the next year undertaking and passing a second MB (Bachelor of Medicine. Latin: Medicinae Baccalaureus) in Anatomy. [5] After a period working in Leeds, he returned to Cambridge in 1895 where he undertook the third MB examination (Part 1) before passing the London Licentiate examinations for Royal College of Surgeons the same year. Finally, in 1897 he graduated from Cambridge with MB BacS (Bachelor of Surgery) and MA degrees. [5]

Wartime service

MacKenzie served as a surgeon with the Somerset Regiment in South Africa during the Second Boer War.

During his wartime service, MacKenzie became interested in camouflage, which was effectively used by the Boers. As a result, during the First World War, when he once again served in the army, he worked not as a surgeon but as a camoufleur. In a lecture he gave on the subject,[ when? ] he said that "the brilliant successes of the Boers (during his service in South Africa) were due to great extent to their making the best use of natural cover and the construction of artificial cover indistinguishable from nature." [6]

Golf course design

View from the 18th tee of a course designed by MacKenzie at the Cavendish Golf Club, Derbyshire, England Cavendish Golf Club - geograph.org.uk - 359153.jpg
View from the 18th tee of a course designed by MacKenzie at the Cavendish Golf Club, Derbyshire, England

MacKenzie had been a member of several golf clubs near Leeds, dating back as far as the late 1890s. These included Ilkley between 1890 and 1900 and Leeds Golf Club from 1900 to 1910. [5] In 1907, he was one of the founding members of Alwoodley Golf Club, where he was both honorary secretary (1907-1909) and club captain (1912-1913), and he remained on its green committee until 1930. As the course was MacKenzie's original design when Alwoodley was laid out, it was his first opportunity to put many of his design theories to practical test. However, the committee at the time thought that some of his ideas were too expansive, so it called in Harry Colt for a second opinion. Colt was one of the leading golf course architects of the time and was also the secretary of Sunningdale Golf Club. Colt visited on two occasions only: first on 31 July 1907, when he met MacKenzie for the first time, and later on 6 October 1909. On the first occasion, four months after the course opened for play, having stayed at MacKenzie's house overnight, he realized that MacKenzie's ideas were very much an extension of his own, and he gave great support for MacKenzie's ideas at the meeting with the committee. He did, however, mention the bunkering as MacKenzie's ideas had taken into account the new technology of the day, which was the Haskell wound ball (which bounced and rolled) and was now being used instead of the old gutta-percha golf ball. Some of MacKenzie's modern ideas under discussion included undulating greens, long and narrow greens angled from the center of the fairway, fairly large and free-form bunker shapes, and substantial additional contouring. All of these remained part of his "signature style" throughout his career. [4]

MacKenzie's winning design in Country Life's 1914 golf architecture competition MacKenzie Winning Design Country Life.png
MacKenzie's winning design in Country Life 's 1914 golf architecture competition

In 1914, MacKenzie won a golf hole design competition organized by Country Life ; the adjudicator was Bernard Darwin. MacKenzie then took an active interest in course improvements at his own clubs, gaining experience in the newly emerging discipline of golf course design. He charted the Old Course at St. Andrews in great detail; by 1915 he had become a member of the R&A. In March 1924, he produced a map which remains well-known to the present day. [7]

Following the First World War, MacKenzie left medicine and began to work instead as a golf course designer in the United Kingdom, in association with Harry Colt and Charles Alison in 1919, with whom he formed the London firm of Colt, MacKenzie & Alison. [8] Four years later, MacKenzie went his own way.

MacKenzie thought he had learned a lot about golf course planning from having designed camouflage. There are references to the latter in his first book on course design, called Golf Architecture (MacKenzie 1920), such as when he writes that "there is an extraordinary resemblance between what is now known as the camouflage of military earthworks and golf-course construction", [9] or later, when he states that there "are many other attributes in common between the successful golf architect and the camoufleur. Both, if not actually artists, must have an artistic temperament, and have had an education in science." [10] In the same book, he also writes that "the chief object of every golf course architect worth his salt is to imitate the beauties of nature [and presumably also the hazards] so closely as to make his work indistinguishable from nature itself." [11] His book was later included in Herbert Warren Wind's Classics of Golf Library.

MacKenzie worked in an era before large scale earth moving became a major factor in golf course construction, and his designs are notable for their sensitivity to the nature of the original site.[ citation needed ]

Course chronology

As a golfer

As a player, MacKenzie was self-described as a "good putter, but a mediocre ball striker" for most of his life. It was not until after his move to California, when he was already in his 60s, that MacKenzie had what he described as his "golfing epiphany".[ citation needed ] This was an improvement in his ball striking which enabled him to often score in the high 70s to low 80s for 18 holes. He described this in one of his books as "in the 70s after 60". [7] MacKenzie was one of the first prominent golf course designers who had not been a leading player. [4]

Legacy

Augusta National Golf Club's hole 10, "Camellia" Augusta National Golf Club, Hole 10 (Camellia) - cropped.jpg
Augusta National Golf Club's hole 10, "Camellia"

In the late 1920s, he moved to the United States, where he carried out some of his most notable work, although he continued to design courses outside that country as well. Today, he is remembered as the designer of some of the world's finest courses, among them Century Country Club (Purchase, New York), as MacKenzie was partners with Colt & Alison at the time the two built Century, from mid-1923 he was working with other partners when he designed Augusta National Golf Club (Augusta, Georgia), Cypress Point Club (Monterey Peninsula, California), Royal Melbourne Golf Club (Melbourne, Australia), Pasatiempo Golf Club (Santa Cruz, California), Crystal Downs Country Club (Frankfort, Michigan), Lahinch Golf Course (Lahinch, Ireland), and Meadow Club (Fairfax, California) [see extended list of his courses below].

MacKenzie died in Santa Cruz, California, in January 1934, two months before the inaugural Masters Tournament (then known as the Augusta National Invitational Tournament). Discovered after his death was an unpublished manuscript on golf and golf course design, which was posthumously published as The Spirit of St. Andrews (MacKenzie 1995).

Bibliography

Further reading

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sandy Herd</span> Scottish golfer

Alexander Herd was a Scottish professional golfer from St Andrews. He won The Open Championship in 1902 at Hoylake.

Tom Doak is a golf course architect. He has 6 courses ranked among the top 100 in the world according to the "Top 100 Courses in the World" March 2021 list compiled by Golf Magazine. These include Pacific Dunes in Oregon, Ballyneal in Colorado, Barnbougle Dunes in Tasmania and Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand. Doak lives in Michigan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Harry Colt</span> English golf course architect

Henry Shapland Colt was a golf course architect born in Highgate, England. He worked predominantly with Charles Alison, John Morrison, and Alister MacKenzie, in 1928 forming Colt, Alison & Morrison Ltd. He participated in the design or redesign of over 300 golf courses in all six inhabited continents, including those at Wentworth Club, Sunningdale, Muirfield, Royal Portrush, and Royal Liverpool.

Charles Hugh Alison was a British golf course designer. He worked predominantly with Harry Colt, John Morrison, and Alister MacKenzie, in 1928 forming Colt, Alison & Morrison Ltd.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chandler Egan</span> American amateur golfer

Henry Chandler Egan was an American amateur golfer and golf course architect of the early 20th century.

Limerick Golf Club is located at Ballyclough, on the southern outskirts of Limerick city in Ireland. It is one of the oldest golf clubs in Ireland, founded by Alexander Shaw in the same year as the Golfing Union of Ireland, in 1891. The course and clubhouse are located on the original site of Roxboro Castle and grounds and boasts an 18-hole, mature, parkland layout. The design of the course evolved over a number of years with a major contribution in 1927 from Dr. Alister MacKenzie - who was the architect of Lahinch and Augusta National. The current layout measures 6500 yards in length and has a par of 72.

The Australian Golf Club is a golf club located in Rosebery, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. Although it survived numerous course location changes, it is arguably the oldest golf club in Australia. To date the course has held 20 Australian Open events and most recently in 2017 the event was won by Australian Cameron Davis. The course has been rated the 9th best in the country.

Green Hills Country Club, located in Millbrae, California, is often referred to as the San Francisco Peninsula’s “hidden gem”. Green Hills is a private members-only country club located on the San Francisco peninsula approximately 20 minutes south of the city.

The Union League Golf and Country Club of San Francisco was constructed in 1929 in Millbrae, California, United States. It was one of the most ambitious golf and country club projects of its era in Northern California. It was conceived in the prosperous time that proceeded the Great Depression by a prominent group of San Francisco businessmen who would spare no expense during the design-phase of the project. The golf course was designed by Alister MacKenzie who considered it one of the top three courses on the West Coast. The unforeseen economic downturn of the Great Depression caused the club to become financially insolvent and in 1933 it was reorganized as Millbrae Country Club. In 1945 the club was named Green Hills Country Club.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Moortown Golf Club</span>

Moortown Golf Club is a golf club located in Alwoodley, near Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. It was founded in 1909, and the championship golf course was designed by Alister MacKenzie.

George W. Cobb, ASGCA is a notable and prolific golf course designer who created the Par-3 course at Augusta National Golf Club among more than one hundred courses and renovated many, including his own early work. He strove to create attractive layouts that the average golfer would find enjoyable, not frustrating.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lahinch Golf Club</span> Golf course in County Clare, Ireland

Lahinch Golf Club is a links golf course in western Ireland, in the town of Lahinch on the northwest coast of County Clare in northern Munster. It is situated approximately thirty-two kilometres (20 mi) northwest of the town of Ennis. In 2016, Golf Digest ranked the Old Course at Lahinch #65 on their list of the world's greatest golf courses.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic</span> Golf Tournament

The Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic was a women's professional golf tournament in California on the LPGA Tour, held at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, an adjacent suburb south of San Francisco. It debuted in April 2014, but ran for just three years, the LPGA Mediheal Championship succeeded it in 2018, also played at Lake Merced.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Perry Maxwell</span> American golf course architect (1879–1952)

Perry Duke Maxwell was an American golf course architect. He was a founding member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and was an inductee into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. He was known as the "father of Oklahoma golf".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Duff House Royal Golf Club</span> Golf club in Banff, Scotland, founded in 1910

Duff House Royal Golf Club is a Championship Course and one of the best golf courses in Aberdeenshire. Located in Banff, Scotland it was founded in 1910 and is designed by Dr Alister MacKenzie. It was founded as the Duff House Golf Club and became the Duff House Royal Golf Club after subsequently receiving royal patronage, at the request of Princess Louise, Dowager Duchess of Fife, in 1925.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Horsforth Golf Club</span>

Horsforth Golf Club is a golf club in the town of Horsforth in West Yorkshire, England. It is located next to Leeds Bradford Airport. It was established in 1906 and celebrated its centenary in 2006.

Alwoodley Golf Club is a golf club located in Alwoodley, North Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. It was founded in 1907. The 18-hole golf course was the first to be designed by renowned architect, Alister MacKenzie. It is recognised as one of the best inland heathland courses in England.

Sand Moor Golf Club is a golf club located in Alwoodley, North Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. It was founded in 1925. The 18-hole golf course was designed by Alister MacKenzie.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sharp Park Golf Course</span> Golf course in California, United States

Sharp Park Golf Course is a public golf course in Pacifica in Northern California in the United States. It was designed in 1931 by Alister MacKenzie and is owned and operated by the city of San Francisco. It is the only public oceanside golf course designed by MacKenzie in the United States.

References

  1. MacKenzie 1920, pp. 128–131; Behrens 2009
  2. Mrowice, Todd. "The Most Famous Golf Course Designers". Golf Link. Retrieved 19 June 2023.
  3. Szurlej, Ron Whitten,Stephen. "The World 100 Greatest Golf Courses - Golf Digest". Golf Digest. Retrieved 2 June 2017.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. 1 2 3 Doak, Tom, The Life and Work of Dr. Alister MacKenzie, Scott & Haddock, 2001 pp 22-28
  5. 1 2 3 "The Dr Alister MacKenzie Chronology" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 February 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  6. MacKenzie 1934, p. 42
  7. 1 2 Alister MacKenzie, The Spirit of St. Andrews, 1995
  8. (p. 56)
  9. Golf Architecture, p. 128
  10. Golf Architecture, p. 129–130
  11. Golf Architecture, page unknown
  12. Taylor, Pat, & Valerie Carter (ed.) (1997) Hadley Wood: The Story of a Golf Club (1922-1997). Barnet: Hadley Wood Golf Club. p. 15.
  13. "The Dr. Alister MacKenzie Chronology" (PDF). Alister MacKenzie Society. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  14. "Golf courses designed by Alister MacKenzie". National Club Golfer. 9 May 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2022.
  15. Tremlett, Sam (15 October 2019). "What Courses Has Alister MacKenzie Designed?". Golf Monthly. Retrieved 10 November 2022.

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Alister MacKenzie at Wikimedia Commons