April 8, 2011

augusta This is a nice article about one of the true fathers of the Masters tournament. Sure, Bobby Jones deserves all the credit for the unique institution and tradition the Masters has come to be known for, but his chosen course designer had a lot to do with it as well:

Nowadays, the myriad features of this wonderful setting, which so many of us take for granted – including the azaleas, the switchback greens and the dread prospect of “Amen Corner” with its rambling creek – have become etched in sporting folklore.

But they only came to fruition in the 1930s when Bobby Jones, the greatest golfer of his generation, sat down and discussed how to design the Masters course with Dr. Alister MacKenzie, a former physician and camouflage expert, who brought his talents to golf by creating some of the greatest courses throughout the world.

Remarkably, or perhaps not, Jones only considered two candidates for the job of architect in Augusta – the other was Donald Ross from Dornoch. He had developed a deep affection for the Caledonian links courses on his travels and considered it perfectly natural that a Scot should be in charge of constructing his fairway to heaven.

MacKenzie, who had served with the Somerset regiment during the Boer War, had been impressed by how his adversaries had adapted their campaign tactics to their terrain and his course design was built around the same precepts of working with nature.

By the time he came to Georgia and shook hands with Jones, he had fine-tuned his signature style and the list of global courses in which he had been involved was staggering: from Cypress Point in California, to the Royal Melbourne Club in Australia, and the Old Course at Lahinch in Ireland, to the Portland Course at Royal Troon in Scotland.

Augusta, though, was his masterpiece, or should that be Masters piece. As the late writer and broadcaster, Alistair Cooke, of Letter from America fame, wrote: “Jones knew more about shot-making than anybody else, but he did not see himself as a one-man school of golf architecture.

He at once brought in Dr. Alister MacKenzie, the Scot who had sensibly forsaken medicine for golf, and whose incomparable links course at Cypress Point, on the coast of northern California, Jones greatly admired.

“Jones was firm on one point. He wanted to run against the current of the 1920s, which had multiplied courses with anything up to two hundred bunkers, which penalised shots, good, bad and indifferent. Jones wanted a strategic course, one which – while only having 44 bunkers, no rough to speak of, very wide fairways and fast, undulating greens – would offer a way round to the high-handicap golfer, a challenge to the middle man, yet also provide a supreme test of a great player’s ability to think out the placement of every shot. And MacKenzie was the man he chose to turn his dreams into reality. He chose correctly.”

Read the whole thing. It’s a very interesting article.

Do not – and I mean DO NOT – ask me about my picks for the Red Sox and Rays to finish 1-2 in the American League East. I’m this close to cancelling my MLB Extra Innings package with DirecTV. The Sox are 0-6 and the Rays 0-5. If the Sox get swept by the Yankees this coming weekend, it’s all over – and I do mean over, and it isn’t even the end of freakin’ April. You can’t fire all 25 guys on the team, but you can fire the manager. I don’t know what the hell is going on there, but something is – after all, the Sox played like crap throughout spring training and they continue to do so now. This will be a very, very interesting weekend at Fenway Park. Believe me, jobs are on the line. As well as they should be. What’s going on there is truly bizarre. And, the pressure on the team to turn it around is growing exponentially every day.

Now, thankfully, back to happier subjects. Like golf and the Masters.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 00:22 | Comments (0)
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