Who's who: Alister MacKenzie

  • Photo of Alister MacKenzie
  • scotland.png
  • Photo of Alister MacKenzie
  • Photo of Alister MacKenzie
  • scotland.png
  • Photo of Alister MacKenzie

Who's who: Alister MacKenzie

  • Name:

    Dr. Alister MacKenzie
  • Country:

  • Lived:

    [1870-1934]. Born on Aug 30, 1870 in Normanton, nr Leeds, Yorkshire. Died on Jan 6, 1934 in Santa Cruz, California, aged 63.
  • Original/Home Club:

  • Occupation:

    Golf course architect and writer.
  • Turned Pro:

  • Website:


Roll of Honour

World Golf Hall of Fame (inducted in 2005).

Golf course design

MacKenzie's best known work includes, but is not limited to:

Alwoodley, Eng (1907) / Blairgowrie, Scot (1927, Rosemount course) / Bolton Old Links, Eng (1924, redesign) / Bruntsfield, Scot (1922, modifications) / Cavendish, Eng (1925) / Cork GC, Ire (1927, redesign) / Duffhouse Royal, Scot (1923, redesign) / Galway GC, Ire (1925) / Ganton, Eng (1912, improvements) / Hadley Wood, Eng (1922) / Ilkley GC, Eng (1898, with Harry Colt) / Lahinch, Ire (1927, modifications to Old course) / Moor Allerton, Eng (1923, course closed when club relocated in 1970) / Moortown, Eng (1909) / Reddish Vale, Eng (1912) / Sand Moor, Eng (1926) / Seaton Carew, Eng (1925, major redesign) / St Andrews, Scot (1930, Old Course improvements) / Weston-super-Mare, Eng (1922, redesign).

Augusta Natl, GA (1933, with Bobby Jones); California GC, CA (1927, bunkering) / Crystal Downs, MI (1930) / Cypress Point, CA (1928) / Green Hills, CA (1929) / Lake Placid, NY (1931, redesign of Mountain course) / Pasatiempo, CA (1929) / St Charles CC, Manitoba (1929, addition of North/MacKenzie-nine) / Univ of Michigan, MI (1931) / Valley Club of Montecito, CA (1929).

Jockey Club, Arg (1935, Colorado & Azul courses).

The Australian, NSW (1926, redesign) / Kingston Heath, Vic (1926, bunkering & modifications) / Metropolitan, Vic (1926, major redesign) / New South Wales GC, NSW (1928) / Royal Adelaide, SA (1926, modifications) / Royal Melbourne, Vic (1926, East & West courses with Alex Russell) / Royal Queensland, Qld (1926, modifications) / Titirangi, NZ (1926) / Victoria GC, Vic (1927, modifications).

Did you know?

Born in Yorkshire to Scottish parents, MacKenzie was christened Alexander, but from birth was called Alister (the Gaelic form of Alexander). MacKenzie attended Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Wakefield, before heading for Cambridge University, where he trained as a surgeon. He served as a civilian doctor with the British Army during the Boer War in South Africa. After the First World War MacKenzie left the medical profession and joined Harry Colt, the first architect to devote a career solely to designing golf courses.

MacKenzie began working in the British Isles, but many of his greatest designs came after he emigrated to the United States in the early 1920s. By the end of his career, MacKenzie had laid out some 400 golf courses on four different continents. Routinely, major golf magazines rate as many as 10 of these in the world's top 100 greatest courses.

MacKenzie combined modest golf holes with others that presented greater challenges, but always allowed enough space for lesser players to enjoy the game. It is often said that MacKenzie’s forte lay in his greens. His courses were created before the era of bulldozers, which gave him little scope to force golf holes where they didn’t belong. His approach was to provide fair and strategic golf challenges without overly disrupting a site. This has endured as the major philosophy for golf course design today, even though the "natural" slopes and undulations of modern layouts are often the product of "unnatural", earthmoving interventions.

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