Alister MacKenzie – Scotland & England – Augusta Inspiration

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Travel Review

Alister MacKenzie’s Augusta Inspiration came from 9 outstanding holes on 5 top golf courses in England and Scotland for his work at the Augusta National Golf Club.

During the final stages of the construction project, Dr Alister MacKenzie wrote a description of the course. Alister waxes lyrical about ‘Bob’ and his contributions that would lead this course to become the world’s most wonderful inland golf course. Pointing out that St Andrews is the ideal course and the one Bob likes best of all, MacKenzie makes known there were no templates used here. Mackenzie points out a mental picture of the world’s best holes was essential and it was the features of these which were reproduced or improved upon. There are no copies but rather classical holes which embody their best features.

In the 1934 First Annual Invitation Tournament Programme, Alister MacKenzie wrote a brief description of the holes and where the inspiration came from. The first number listed refers to the current numbering of the course. The second number and name in brackets refers to the original numbering and name if it has been altered. Enjoy the Travel Guide that was Alister MacKenzie’s Augusta Inspiration.

Hole By Hole Analysis

4 Flowering Crabapple (13 Palm) Eden High Out 11 at St Andrews Old Course

  • The inspiration for the fourth was the Eden at The Old Course. The main element identified by MacKenzie were the subtle and severe slopes. One theory on the famous tongue propounded by Brian Schneider, is it was not a pin-able but rather allowed firm turf conditions for a running shot.

5 Magnolia (14) Road 17 at St Andrews Old Course

  • The Road Hole in reverse. The Hotel (Railway & Drying Sheds) replaced by a group of trees at the dogleg. The dogleg at Augusta is from right to left as opposed to left to right at St Andrews. It may be surprising the element taken from the green comlex was not the bunker nor the road but rather the plateau the green sat on.
The 17th green at The Old Course served as Alister MacKenzie's Augusta Inspiration.

Jim Hartsell

6 Juniper (15) Redan 15 at North Berwick Golf Club – West Links

  • A pure Redan. MacKenzie however believes his is much more attractive due to the visibility, lie of the land and beauty of the surroundings. The back right was so pronounced, it soon came to be called the buried elephant.

7 Pampas (16) 18 at St Andrews Old Course

  • The design element from the 18th at The Home of Golf is the Valley of Sin. A deep hollow at the front of the green means it is necessary to approach the green from right. Again, a run up shot was the required shot.

8 Yellow – Jasmine (17) 17 at Muirfield (HCEG)

  • Largely uphill, rising up 76 feet over 500 yards, the green becomes visible for the third shot. The green was originally couched in a punchbowl reminiscent of the 17th at Muirfield.
17th Green at Muirfield.

Jasper Miners Evalu18

10 Camelia (1) 13 at Cypress Point & 4 at Alwoodley Golf Club

  • Described as an easy downhill hole, there is a 102 foot drop in elevation from tee to green! The green was originally a punchbowl. A drive right needed to clear hillocks and the approach shot in was with the length of the green. A tee shot to the left meant an approach over a large spectacular bunker.

14 Chinese Fir (5 Spanish Dagger) 6 at St Andrews Old Course

  • Elements of the 6th hole at The Old Course clearly in play. Uphill by 90 feet, a drive over the bunker on the right opens up the green. Left and short off the tee leaves a partially blind approach over hillocks and hollows.

16 Redbud (7) 7 at Stoke Park (Stoke Poges)

  • The template is the 7th at Stoke Park. MacKenzie felt the hole had been improved as the green was more visible and background more appealing. The hole plays very slightly downhill losing only 10 feet or so in elevation.

17 Nandina (8) 14 at St Andrews Old Course

  • The element taken from Long at The Old Course is the green itself, but in reverse. Bobby Jones famously played 14 long and pitched back up the green. The ideal line into the green on 17 was not from the left but rather from the right. The hole was designed to cater to a running shot to achieve par.

Conclusion

Alister MacKenzie’s Augusta inspiration can be traced back to these 5 famous courses in the UK and Ireland. Some of these elements still exist and others have been lost due to advancement and change at Augusta National. See our soon to be published Journal Article which details the changes at Augusta.

Further Reading

An excellent resource on the changes at Augusta is the 2017 Golf Digest article entitled: The Complete Changes To Augusta National with illustrations done by Chris O’Riley.

Featured Courses

Useful links to the courses in this guide.