Alister Mackenzie was an English doctor that whose legacy is cemented into golf course design which took place during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Being a doctor during this time period Alister served as a physician for the British Army during the First World War as well as the Boer War. During this time he became fascinated with the use of camouflage and how it could be applied to make man made structures look natural. Here he would advocate extensively for the importance of camouflage use on the front lines for defenses such as trenches, gun positions, and fortifications.
After his time in the army was over he turned to what he is primarily known for which is the design of golf courses. He was described by Greg Norman as a man that “loved to test the mind” and “He understood the weather conditions, he understood the environmental changes, he understood every blade of grass.” Alister is responsible for the design of what is known as the most photogenic hole in golf across the world which is seen below.
Throughout his career he designed over 50 golf courses that span 4 continents. Out of the numerous courses that he created, 3 remain in the top ten ranking for best courses in the world for 2022. He is also responsible for the creation of Augusta National where the Masters is played at which happens to be the most famous golf tournament in the world. Some iconic scenes from Augusta can be seen below.
Nice post! I found it very interesting that he found his aesthetic and design feel from war, but not the standard industrial or high tech aesthetic that might come to mind first. From the pictures you shared, I think he does a great job of blending the man made golf course into nature while keeping it noticeable for golfers. What are your favorite design features of his golf courses?
I appreciate the variety of images used here as well as the inclusion of his design origins in camouflage. It really adds to the details of the story. I’m curious, what elements of golf course design were considered unique to this designer?