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Hole #13: In the Style of Alister Mackenzie (1870-1934)


“The Good Doctor,” Alister Mackenzie was a surgeon in the Boer War in South Africa in the late 1800s, then returned to London and studied golf design as a hobby. In 1907, he met Harry Colt, showed him his models of greens and bunkers, and joined Colt in the design of Alwoodley Golf Club. Mackenzie soon quit medicine and devoted all of his time to golf architecture, building some of the most outrageous greens and dynamic bunkers seen in England. In 1914, he won first prize in C.B. Macdonald’s Country Life magazine competition for the best two-shot hole for the proposed Lido Golf Club. The price was just £20, but it gained Mackenzie international publicity. In 1918, Mackenzie became partners with Colt and Alison, but by 1922, they had dissolved the partnership. He then moved to the United States, where he remained for the rest of his life, except for trips to Austrailia, New Zealand and South America to design courses. His American designs were supremely artistic: Cypress Point, Pasatiempo and the Valley Club of Montecito, all in California, Crystal Downs in Michigan and, of course, Augusta National, done in collaboration with golfing legend Bobby Jones.

Our 13th, the last par-5 of the round, was created with The Good Doctor’s philosophy and flair in mind. A single elaborate fairway bunker defines the landing area. Those aiming away from it risk hitting into a lagoon in the left rough. The fairway dips well short of the green, making the cascading diagonal putting surface, and the cascading stream in front of it, seem closer than they really are. The flashy bunkers behind are the type preferred by Alister Mackenzie on most of his designs.