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In 1897, CB Macdonald wrote that the ideal golf links, let alone a collection of ideal holes, were yet to be constructed in America. Requiring 18 ideal holes, sandy soil and time to develop, Long Island was earmarked as an ideal location.

Spurned on by an article in Golf Illustrated regarding golf’s best holes, CB Macdonald questioned architects and professionals in Great Britain which holes were considered to be best. Armed with responses, CB Macdonald travelled to Great Britain to gather material, survey the holes and make maps in 1902.

Consensus Best Holes

One-Shot Holes

Eden High Out – 11th at St Andrews Old Course

Redan – 15th at North Berwick West Links

Two-Shot Holes

Alps – 17th at Old Prestwick Golf Club

Three-Shot Holes

Long – 14th at St Andrews Old

Road – 17th at St Andrews Old

A photo of the book Scotland's Gift Golf by CB Macdonald. In it he lists his ideal holes.

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Return to America

Returning to America in 1906, CB Macdonald had with him 30 or so sketches of ideal holes. CB Macdonald had identified the following 18 holes – 17 of which existed in England or Scotland. After gaining 70 subscribers and $1000 from each, CBM began setting out his National Golf Course of America (NGLA) on March 11, 1908.

The 18 Ideal Holes

Bottle Hole – 12th at Sunningdale Golf Club Old Course

Narrows – 14th at North Berwick Golf Club – West Links (Perfection Green)

15th at Muirfield (Camel’s Back Green)

Cartgate Out – 3rd at St Andrews Old Course

Redan – 15th at North Berwick West Links

16th at Littlestone Golf Club

4th at Royal St George’s Golf Club (Sandwich)

Short – 5th (now 4th) at Royal West Norfolk Golf Club (Brancaster)

9th at Leven – ??

9th at Royal West Norfolk Golf Club (Brancaster)

Sahara – 3rd at Royal St George’s Golf Club (Sandwich)

Road – 17th at St Andrews Old Course

High In – 11th at St Andrews Old Course

Cardinal – 3rd at Old Prestwick Golf Club

Long – 14th at St Andrews Old Course

12th at Biarritz (France)

7th at Leven – now 16th at Lundin Links

Alps – 17th (former 2nd) at Old Prestwick Golf Club

8th St Andrews New Course

Ideal Holes Conclusion

Curiously, not all holes are reflected at NGLA but most elements are, some composite in nature. Template Holes are not synonymous with replicas nor are they copies. Both CB Macdonald and Alister MacKenzie at Augusta National explained they were using elements in order to produce classic holes.

The foldout map in the book Scotland's Gift Golf.

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