Today, we’ll take a look at the design “theory” behind the wonderful world of Scottish golf course design. I’m talking about the old classic course. This includes all the old great courses in Scotland and Ireland, as well as notable US courses such as Cyprus Point and Augusta National. The man behind many of these classics is a famous architect. Dr. Alister Mackenzie.
I highly recommend reading his 1920 book Golf Architecture: The Economics of Course Construction and Greenkeeping‘. In my opinion, no one should be allowed to design a course until they have read and understood this book. It’s as much about the game of golf and its role in society as it is about golf course design. If you read this book, you will find that these two concepts of his are closely related to his MacKenzie.
Here’s what I remember from this book. Golf courses should be designed to be challenging and enjoyable for both amateurs and professionals. Imagine a course that Tiger and I could play and enjoy in our own way. There are not many US courses that fit that description.For those who have seen open championship You know what Doctor of Honor meant at St Andrews many years ago. Any of us could play that course and have a blast.
Dr. MacKenzie believed that most holes required different ways of playing with different combinations of risk and reward. Many Scottish holes have multiple “fairways” to the green. Even if you tee off at the hole, you may not see your playing partner until you reach the green.
In Mackenzie’s book he mentions that Bobby Jones said it was a woman who played number 15 on the Old Course. But you get the idea. Imagine Tiger Woods saying Jane Doe will play the 15th hole better than anyone else on the Baltasroll. For St Andrews, I give credit to women and golf course designers.
Understanding Scottish Golf Course Design
There are many world-class US pros who ‘didn’t understand’ Scottish golf course design the first few times. Then the light bulb went out and they fell in love with them. Tom Watson is a perfect example. The old course at St Andrews is a typical case. There are so many options on each hole and when you throw in all the weather variations you will find that you can play the course every day without getting bored.
Dr. Mackenzie designed before all large earthmoving equipment was invented. He had to adapt the course to the natural arrangement of the land. He had to figure out where Mother Nature had already placed the hole. And they didn’t try to flatten the fairway. Little ripples, swells and swells remained. This in itself adds a whole new dimension to the game. You really have to learn how to hit the ball in any situation, not just on well-manicured flat grass.
leave my golf ball alone
And the early Scots didn’t believe in keeping the golf ball away from you. They thought you should be able to play rounds with the same ball. We’ve designed a lot of places where you don’t want to hit the , but a penalty isn’t a lost ball. Your penalty is that you must descend into the “coffin” and play backwards.
Just by looking at the name of the hole and its distinguishing features in Scottish golf course design, you can see how much Scots love the name. Who hasn’t enjoyed Cartgate, Ginger Beer and Tom Morris? Admiral’s, The Beardies, principal’s nose“Hey Joe, how was your day?”
The Scots has a walkable course, with hundreds of variables per hole and is played under wildly changing weather conditions. You can use your putter from 20 yards from the green and there are bunkers where you can get lost and fun holes. You and Tiger
Add hospitality and scotch and you have the perfect formula for enjoying yourself on the golf course. I don’t know why modern architects don’t have the intelligence and/or guts to experiment with this combination. Need understanding. Build it and we’ll come!