Dr Alister MacKenzie is arguably the greatest golf course architect of them all. He’s the man who made Augusta National, annual home of the US Masters, and countless other top venues all over Planet Golf. Here, Courses Editor Kevin Brown selects his top 10 GB & Ireland favourites, outlining what’s so special about them and why you should pay them a visit this season…
This is literally where it all started for the maestro. It was master designer MacKenzie’s very first piece of work and his new career – he was club secretary at the time –got off to the best possible start. The course is a joy to play year-round and although it isn’t long, danger lurks round every corner. Any birdies made are hard earned, including the par-5 10th which MacKenzie later re-modelled on the 13th at Augusta National.
Not-so-famously staged the first official Ryder Cup on these shores in 1929. Moortown has a perfect blend of moorland turf, immaculate greens and natural hazards of gorse, heather, woodland and streams. A class act in every sense of the word and it comfortably lives up to its reputation as one of the finest inland layouts around.
3 Lahinch, Ireland
As natural a links as you could wish to find. Don’t expect any frills, this is golf in the raw. This awesome links has it all, even a blind par 3. And while there are further little quirks here and there, it is for the most part a very straightforward links.
Widely considered one of England’s finest links – a far cry from 1890 when it set out as a nine holer on a strip of land called the Warren between the town of Burnham and the village of Berrow. the course has hosted virtually every leading amateur event going from the British Ladies in 1906 to the Brabazon Trophy in 2011. With many fairways and greens overlooked by giant sand dunes, it’s the south west’s answer to Royal Birkdale.
Laid out on the same stretch of sandy moorland as Moortown and Alwoodley, Sand Moor enjoys the lowest profile of these three north Leeds tracks. However it is a fine course in its own right, offering a terrific year-round challenge which few can match.
One of England’s finest links layouts and oozes history and tradition, being the 10th oldest course in the country. It provides a memorable challenge in the dunes north of the mouth of the River Tees throughout the year, unusually having 22 holes in play.
This classy Harrogate heathland track has somewhat disappeared from the radar since the mid-1970s when it was a European Tour venue, but is an absolute joy to play and is always in immaculate condition
Top heathland layout perched 800ft above sea level. At just over 6,000-yards it’s not overly long but deserves the utmost respect, specially with most fairways featuring swathes of penal heather.
9 Ilkley, West Yorkshire
Home of Yorkshire’s third oldest club and a majestically undulating course with views-to-die-for – the famous Moor is the backdrop. The river Wharfe lurks on the first seven holes at this delightfully scenic parkland. Ryder Cup captains Colin Montgomerie and Mark James are both honorary members.
Undulating parkland layout built in 1923 on the Duke of Devonshire's land outside Buxton. The design and layout are top drawer and a memorable round fittingly ends with a memorable finale in the form of a right dogleg par-4 with danger down the right and a raised green next to the clubhouse.