Alister MacKenzie (August 30, 1870 – January 6, 1934) was a British golf
course architect whose course designs, on four different continents, are
consistently ranked among the finest golf courses in the world. Originally
trained as a surgeon, MacKenzie served as a civilian doctor with the British
army during the Boer War where he first became aware of the principles of
camouflage. During World War I, MacKenzie made his own significant
contributions to military camouflage, which he saw as closely related to
golf course design. He is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.
MacKenzie was born in Normanton, near Leeds in Yorkshire, England to parents
of Scottish extraction. His mother Mary Jane Smith MacKenzie had family
roots in Glasgow. His father, William Scobie MacKenzie, a medical doctor,
had been born and raised in the Scottish Highlands near Lochinvar. Although
christened after his paternal grandfather Alexander, he was called "Alister"
(Gaelic for Alexander) from birth. As a youth, MacKenzie and his family
spent summers near Lochnivar, on what had been traditional Clan MacKenzie
lands from 1670-1745. MacKenzie's strong identification with his Scottish
roots featured prominently in many aspects of his later life.
In the late 1920s he relocated to the United States, where he carried out
some of his most notable work, although he continued to design courses
outside that country as well. Today, he is remembered as the designer of
some of the world’s finest courses, among them Century Country Club
(Purchase, New York), as MacKenzie was partners with Colt & Alison at the
time the two built Century, from mid-1923 he was working with other partners
when he designed Augusta National Golf Club (Augusta, Georgia), Cypress
Point Club (Monterey Peninsula, California), Royal Melbourne Golf Club
(Melbourne, Australia), Pasatiempo Golf Club (Santa Cruz, California),
Crystal Downs Country Club (Frankfort, Michigan), Lahinch Golf Course (Lahinch,
Ireland), and Meadow Club (Fairfax, California)
He died in Santa Cruz, California in January 1934, just two months before
the inaugural Masters Tournament (then known as the Augusta National
Invitational Tournament). Discovered after his death was an unpublished
manuscript on golf and golf course design, which was posthumously published
as The Spirit of St. Andrews (MacKenzie 1995).
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