Who's who: Charles B. Macdonald

  • Photo of Charles B. Macdonald
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  • Photo of Charles B. Macdonald
  • usa.png

Who's who: Charles B. Macdonald

  • Name:

    Charles Blair "Charlie" Macdonald
  • Country:

    USA
  • Lived:

    [1855-1939]. Born on Nov 14, 1855 in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Died on April 21, 1939, in Southampton, Long Island, NY (aged 83).
  • Original/Home Club:

  • Occupation:

    Golf course architect, founding Vice-President of the USGA, amateur golfer and author (notably of "Scotland's Gift: Golf").
  • Turned Pro:

    n/a

Roll of Honour

First winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship (1895). World Golf Hall of Fame (inducted in 2007).

Golf course design

Most often completed with Seth Raynor as his construction engineer, Macdonald's best known work includes, but is not limited to: Chicago GC, IL (1892) / Greenbrier, WV (Old White course, 1914) / Mid Ocean Club, Bermuda (1921) / Monterey Peninsula, CA (Dunes course, 1925) / National Golf Links, NY (1908) / Piping Rock, NY (1911) / Shinnecock Hills, NY (redesign, 1901) / St Louis CC, MO (1914) / Sleepy Hollow, NY (1911) / The Creek, NY (1923) / Yale University, CT (1926).

Did you know?

Macdonald, often called the "Father of American Golf Architecture," was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario to naturalized American parents. His father was originally from Scotland and his mother was Canadian (part Mohawk). Macdonald grew up in Chicago, and in 1872 at age 16, was sent to St Andrews University in Scotland, where he took up golf. He was tutored by Old Tom Morris and developed into a very proficient player. Upon his return to Chicago in 1874, he became a successful stockbroker, but rarely played golf for the next 17 years.

Golf arrived in the United States in the late 1880s, and by 1892 Macdonald had convinced several associates to start playing. He founded the Chicago GC that same year, and in 1894 was a key player in the establishment of the USGA. The first official mens' championship of the USGA was the 1895 U.S. Amateur Championship, which Macdonald won by the still record margin of 12 up with 11 to play.

In 1900, Macdonald moved from Chicago to New York while still a stockbroker, and set about finding a site to build "the most noteworthy golf course" outside the British Isles. He eventually settled on a site in Southampton, Long Island, in 1906. Three years later, and helped by $1,000 donations from 70 founder members, the National Golf Links of America opened for play. Many of its holes were Macdonald's version of famous holes from courses in Britain, a pattern he would repeat on later layouts. Macdonald believed there were only about 25 hole designs that could be employed, and that the best versions of each should guide the construction of any new golf course. On Macdonald-designed courses, there are invariably versions of the Road Hole, the Redan and the Eden, as well as a punchbowl green, among other features. Macdonald did not duplicate the originals, but adapted them to fit the specific sites on which he worked.

With the National Golf Links, Macdonald began collaborating with civil engineer, Seth Raynor, and their association endured from that time onward. Raynor learnt everything he knew about golf course design from his mentor Macdonald, and Macdonald eventually handed him the reins of his course design business in 1915. Macdonald outlived Raynor, who died of pneumonia, aged 51.

Top tournaments won by Charles B. Macdonald

Category

Amateur

Winner (holder)

Macdonald, Charles B.

Score

12 & 11

Prize money

n/a

Title sponsor

USGA

The inaugural US Amateur Championship. Charles Blair Macdonald (USA) beat Charles Sands (USA) 12 and 11 in the 36-hole final. [Newport CC, Rhode Island].

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Where2Golf Spotlight

Tournaments:
US Women's PGA Championship: located just outside Philadelphia, the famed Donald Ross layout of Aronimink Golf Club hosts the third women’s major championship of 2020 (Oct 8-11).
Scottish Open: first played in 1972, this year’s championship is again played on the Tom Doak-designed Renaissance Club course, which sits alongside mighty Muirfield in East Lothian (Oct 1-4).

Who's Who:
Jim Furyk: in winning the Pure Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links, “The Grinder” joined Arnold Palmer and Bruce Fleisher as the only players to win their first two starts on the PGA Tour Champions.
Georgia Hall: recorded her first win in an LPGA Tour event on American soil at this year’s Portland Classic, played at Columbia Edgewater Country Club … on the edge of the Columbia River.

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