The architect of Augusta National was also instrumental in these wonderful layouts closer to home
5 Of The Best Alister MacKenzie Course Designs
Blairgowrie (opens in new tab)
Although James Braid (opens in new tab) made some significant changes here in the 1930s, the design genius and influence of MacKenzie lives on in both the Top 100 Rosemount (opens in new tab) course and the par-32 Wee course. Pine trees separate just about all of Blairgowrie’s delightful 45 holes, making straight hitting a priority. The picturesque short 17th is classic MacKenzie with its two-tier green.
Alister MacKenzie (opens in new tab) seems to go hand in golf glove with attractive courses. Cork is no exception, with its parkland design running down to and alongside Lough Mahon. Once there, the 4th and 5th flank the water before the next few holes play in and out of an old quarry. The MacKenzie greens – large and undulating – are a particular strength and mean that every part of your game is tested.
Littlestone is a historic links where MacKenzie made a number of key changes in the mid-1920s. His legacy remains its defining style. The 2nd is very strong, with its approach over a ditch and between two large dunes, while the penultimate hole is a superb par 3 played across a dip to a raised and well-bunkered green. The putting surface at the closing par 5 is a trademark MacKenzie rollercoaster.
Yorkshire (opens in new tab) is packed with great golf, much of it not so well known, and this terrific course which has evolved into something of a moorland/heathland/woodland hybrid is up there with the best. In a reverse of the Blairgowrie situation, this time it was MacKenzie who improved an original Braid design; a fact that only came back to light in 2011 when one of his invoices was found.
MacKenzie’s trademark greens are greatly in evidence at this delightful course perched high on the Devon hills, with fabulous views both inland to Dartmoor and out to sea. There is great variety and excitement, with six distinct short holes. The 11th is played over a hidden quarry and the closing hole is a monster – 230 yards up to the most MacKenzie-esque green you will find anywhere.
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Rob Smith has been playing golf for more than 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly for over ten years, specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played more than 1,170 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions in 2021, he still managed to play 80 different courses during the year, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but nine. During the 2021-22 review period, Rob has played 34 of the Golf Monthly Top 200. He is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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