When Augusta National Golf Club opened for play in January of 1933, there were over 150 golf courses already in operation in the Chicagoland area. Among those Chicago golf courses was the first 18-hole golf course in the United States, Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton. By 1933, six Chicago golf courses had already hosted the US Open – Chicago Golf Club, Glen View Club, Onwentsia Club, Midlothian Country Club, Skokie Country Club and Olympia Fields Country Club. North Shore Country Club in Glenview would later host the 1933 US Open.
Although Augusta National Golf Club was a bit late to the party, the spectacular Alister MacKenzie layout would eventually eclipse nearly every golf course created in terms of notoriety and respect. Bobby Jones initially selected and hired Mackenzie as the golf course architect for Augusta National Golf Club, but both Jones and Mackenzie collaborated on the design.
Born in 1870, Dr. Alister MacKenzie was one of the most well-known golf course architects of his time. Originally trained as a surgeon, MacKenzie had designed 41 original courses by 1931, before starting work on Augusta National. He designed golf courses on four different continents and his work is consistently ranked among the finest golf courses in the world. MacKenzie also worked with over a dozen design partners, most notably Harry Colt, with whom his partnership lasted 18 years.
Despite his depth of work, Alister MacKenzie never designed a Chicago golf course. He developed multiple golf courses in Michigan including the University of Michigan Golf Course and Crystal Downs Country Club, but none in the State of Illinois.
Although MacKenzie never left his mark in Chicago, his partner Harry Colt certainly did. Colt designed some spectacular Chicago golf courses and made a major impact on the Chicago golf community. Colt’s Chicago golf course designs include:
Briarwood Country Club
Bob O’Link Golf Club
Highland Park, IL
Old Elm Club
Highland Park, IL
North Shore Country Club
Lake Forest, IL