Playing Augusta National

The legendary Augusta National is the result of a collaboration between Bobby Jones and golf Architect Alister MacKenzie. It’s unlikely that either your or I will ever get to play a round at Augusta. And to my knowledge, that’s the only course designed by Jones. But MacKenzie was far more prolific, and there exist a number of opportunities for the general public to play a course designed by him. So if you can’t play Augusta, those courses may be the next best thing.

Among the Alister MacKenzie courses the general public can play are:

The University of Michigan Golf Course, Ann Arbor

The Scarlet and Grey Courses at Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio

Haggin Oaks in Sacramento, California

Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, California

Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica, California

MacKenzie is an interesting story. A doctor by training, he served in the Second Boer War. Course design, however, was his calling. In association with H.S. Colt, he began with courses in the United Kingdom. He emigrated to the US in the 1920s. He also has designed a number of courses in Australia.

MacKenzie published a book on Golf Architecture (Classics of Golf) in 1920, and summed up his design style therein: “In discussing the need for simplicity of design, the chief object of every golf course architect worth his salt is to imitate the beauties of nature so closely as to make his work indistinguishable from nature itself.”

MacKenzie worked in the era before large scale earth moving became a feature of golf course construction, and his designs are notable for their sensitivity to the nature of the site. He is celebrated for his ability to produce holes with an ideal balance of risk and reward, and for his knack of producing courses which both challenge and accommodate golfers with differing levels of skill.

MacKenzie died in 1934 in Santa Cruz, California and left behind an unpublished manuscript, The Spirit of St. Andrews. The book was rescued and published by Eli Callaway in 1995.

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