Alister MacKenzie and Robert Hunter took a phenomenal
property, gave it the respect it deserved, and created
the perfect blend of fun and beauty—a veritable
George Thomas’s strategic masterpiece was also an
engineering and aesthetic marvel thanks to sidekick Billy
Bell’s quiet genius. Never has such an unfriendly
site for golf been transformed into something so rich
Chandler Egan’s bold redesign prior to the 1929
U.S. Amateur featured imitation dunes and strategic design
elements missing from the brilliant original routing of
Jack Neville and Douglas Grant. The imitation dunes are
gone, but the strategy still shines.
Bobby Jones fell in love with Max Behr’s inland
links while filming his 1931 golf movies. Behr believed
in wide fairways and multiple hole location options to
dictate tee shot placement. It is safe to say that Lakeside
inspired Jones and MacKenzie to go forward with Augusta
National’s revolutionary design.
Arguably the most radical of all California designs in
its original form, Thomas and Bell offered multiple fairway
options, wild bunkering, strategically placed mounds and
dramatic use of natural barrancas. Today only their ingenious
Willie Watson and Sam Whiting’s original design
featured several astonishing ocean holes that made its
more famous brother—the Lake Course—look ordinary.
After Riviera and Bel-Air, Thomas had to rejuvenate his
home course. He created multiple "courses within
the course" by adding unique hole locations and multiple
tees to achieve the ultimate in day-to-day variety.
MacKenzie’s municipal masterpiece once featured
double fairways, oceanside holes and his trademark bunkering.
It may have been America’s finest public course
when it opened.
Thomas and Bell’s original featured their typical
strategic brilliance and construction artistry, with several
stunning holes playing around a natural lake. The course
looks nothing like the original today, put to shame by
the recent Tom Doak restoration of MacKenzie’s nearby
gem, the Valley Club of Montecito.
Rancho Santa Fe:
Behr’s brilliantly routed inland masterpiece in
San Diego incorporated coastal sage scrub and land features
to create strategic interest. For years, this wealthy
enclave has been protected by a covenant preventing the
import of modern architecture. Too bad the covenant didn’t
pertain to the golf course as well.
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