“Dr Alister MacKenzie is unquestionably one of the world’s foremost designers of golf courses. Examples of his work are among the best courses in the USA and the British Isles.” Robert Trent Jones.
Dr Alister MacKenzie was born in Leeds but was proud to be Scottish on the basis that his Mother and Father both came from Lochinver, Wester Ross to where the family returned after MacKenzie’s father retired from service as a GP in Leeds.
He is recognised as being on a par with the most famous and respected golf course designers of his age including Harry Colt, Albert Tillinghast, and Donald Ross. In July 1920, Dr Alister MacKenzie visited Pollok to plan its redesign which places the course among some of the most important golf courses on a world wide stage.
An article in the Glasgow Herald on April 28 1924 reads: “The course at Pollok, as already noted in our columns, has been reconstructed and the official opening took place on Saturday 26th April. Speaking at the close of the competition, Mr William Wilson, Club Captain, said that the club was most fortunate in having its affairs conducted by men of vision, enthusiasm and enterprise. It was through the good offices of Mr Brownlee and Mr Stevenson that the services of Dr MacKenzie, who designed the reconstruction of the course, had been placed at the disposal of the Committee free of cost to the club”
This date in 1924 is in agreement with the Timeline of MacKenzie’s life which can be accessed on the left of this page. In the Minute Book of the Club for the relevant dates it is intimated that MacKenzie’s fee was of the order of £37 – £40. (To give an indication of how expensive his services were, at that time James Braid charged around £1.00 per hole to Fereneze Golf Club with Fereneze building a Professional Shop for £ 25.00!)
This world famous golf architect designing over 400 golf courses all over the world including Cypress Point, Augusta National, and Royal Melbourne – accepted as three of the top golf courses in the world. In addition to these he designed Blairgowrie, Rosemount, Lahinch, Moortown, Crystal Downs, Buenos Aires Jockey Club, Argentina and Titiranga in New Zealand.
MacKenzie’s design philosophy states: “A really great golf course must be a constant source of pleasure to the greatest possible number of players. It must require strategy in the playing as well as skill. It must give the average player a fair chance and at the same time, it must require the utmost from the expert. All natural beauty should be preserved, natural hazards should be utilized and artificiality should be minimized.”
There can be no doubt that Pollok accords with this philosophy. It is up to us, the current membership, to ensure that it continues to so do during the short time that we are the custodians of his heritage. In 2005, Dr. MacKenzie became a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. He was the first golf architect to be so honoured. Pollok is a member of the Alister MacKenzie Society (AMS) which hosts an annual outing at different MacKenzie courses. Pollok holds an annual Summer Medal – the Dr Alister MacKenzie Medal – from which the winners of all three classes are invited to join the Captain and Vice Captain in representing Pollok at the Annual AMS outing.