Augusta, Cypress Point, Royal Melbourne... Alister MacKenzie was responsible for designing them all, as well as many less famous venues closer to home. Now, some of them have joined forces to create the new MacKenzie Trail.
There’s nine venues on the Trail, all within 60 miles of each other. And, as MacKenzie himself would have approved, they are all accessible and affordable – you can play each one for less than £50. Play them all and you’ll even receive a certificate.
All the courses opened between 1912 and 1928 – Walsall was the last course he designed before he moved to the USA to continue his career – and each is a member of the Alister MacKenzie Society of GB&I.
A spokesman told us: “The idea came from visitors who played at Cavendish (in Derbyshire) and enjoyed it so much, they then asked if there were any other MacKenzie courses in the area we could recommend.”
So what can you expect from these courses? Well, many show off the MacKenzie design traits he took to Augusta, such as big bunkers, a nice variety of pars and the use of natural slopes on and around the greens. But all offer a warm welcome and great round.
Bolton Old Links (1924) – Lancashire
Originally founded in 1891 – hence the ‘Old’ in its name – it was the first golf club in the Bolton area, though the present layout was created by MacKenzie in 1924.
Course info: Par 72, 6,432 yards.
Green fees: £25 midweek, from £35 weekends.
Contact: 01204 843089 / www.boltonoldlinksgolfclub.co.uk
Bramall Park (1921) – Stockport, Cheshire
A mature and well presented parkland layout on gently undulating terrain so it’s easy walking, too. With two par 5s and four par 3s it has a good variety of holes, but beware of a stream guarding the first and last greens.
Course info: Par 70, 6,229 yards.
Green fees: £40 midweek, £48 weekends.
Contact: 0161 485 3119 / www.bramallparkgolfclub.co.uk
Cavendish (1925) – Buxton, Derbyshire
It’s virtually unchanged since it opened over 90 years ago and though short by modern standards the combination of the clever layout and small, fast and undulating greens means Cavendish (pictured below) should always be treated with respect.
Course info: Par 68, 5,721 yards.
Green fees: £25-£35.
Contact: 01298 79708 / www.cavendishgolfclub.com
Hazel Grove (1920) – Stockport, Cheshire
Splendid parkland course with stunning views over Manchester and the Cheshire plains. It’s a solid year-round test with several water hazards and most fairways being tree-lined. You’ll love the USGA-spec greens.
Course info: Par 71, 6,234 yards.
Green fees: £35 midweek, £45 weekends.
Contact: 0161 483 3978 / www.hazelgrovegolfclub.com
Nelson (1920) – Brierfield, Lancashire
Short but sweet parkland on a plateau and offering breathtaking views of the Pennine hills. However, MacKenzie’s clever design means it’s a relatively gentle stroll in the park.
Course info: Par 70, 6,006 yards
Green fees: £40 midweek, £45 weekends.
Contact: 01282 611834 / www.nelsongolfclub.com
Reddish Vale (1912) – Stockport, Cheshire
Top US architect Tom Doak is a big admirer of this fun track, with its figure-of-eight routing by the River Tame. It guarantees a challenging game as well as glorious views from the striking clubhouse.
Course info: Par 70, 6,086 yards.
Green fees: £25 midweek, £30 weekends.
Contact: 0161 480 2359 / www.rvgc.co.uk
Sitwell Park (1913) – Rotherham, South Yorkshire
It’s tough but fair, the course snaking around a hillside – expect some sloping lies – and across scenic parkland a short drive from the M1. You’ll love the MacKenzie greens – fast, with some tricky reads.
Course info: Par 71, 6,239 yards.
Green fees: £36 midweek, £42 weekends.
Contact: 01709 709970 / www.sitwellgolf.co.uk
Sutton Coldfield (1921) – Birmingham, West Midlands
Wonderfully plotted in the National Nature Reserve of Sutton Park, this is a different ball game from the rest – a tranquil heathland layout lined by swathes of heather, gorse and silver birch trees.
Course info: Par 72, 6,548 yards.
Green fees: £45 midweek, £55 weekends.
Contact: 0121 353 9633 / www.suttoncoldfieldgc.com
Walsall (1928) – West Midlands
The layout is little changed from MacKenzie’s original, other than a careful tree-planting programme. Be warned, there are bunkers everywhere, especially around the greens, so your approach play needs to be spot on.
Course info: Par 70, 6,250 yards.
Green fees: £30 midweek.
Contact: 01922 613512 / www.walsallgolfclub.co.uk