Dr. Alister MacKenzie's 13 Golf Commandments (1920)


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Alister MacKenzie 15th Cypress Point
Photo courtesy of Julian P. Graham, Loon Hill Studios


  1. The course, where possible, should be arranged in two loops of 9 holes.
  2. There should be a large proportion of good 2-shot holes, two or three drive-and-pitch holes, and at least four 1-shot holes.
  3. There should be little walking between the greens and tees, and the course should be arranged so that in the first instance there is always a slight walk forwards from the green to the next tee; then the holes are sufficiently elastic to be lengthened in the future if necessary.
  4. The greens and fairways should be sufficiently undulating, but there should be no hill climbing.
  5. Every hole should have a different character.
  6. There should be a minimum of blindness for the approach shots.
  7. The course should have beautiful surroundings, and all the artificial features should have so natural an appearance that a stranger is unable to distinguish them from nature.
  8. There should be a sufficient number of heroic carries from the tee, but the course should be arranged so that the weaker player with the loss of a stroke or portion of a stroke shall always have an alternative route open to him.
  9. Alister MacKenzie 18th hole Cypress Point inaugural round
  10. There should be infinite variety in the strokes required to play the various holes - viz., interesting brassy shots, iron shots, pitch and run-up shots.
  11. There should be a complete absence of the annoyance and irritation caused by the necessity of searching for lost balls.
  12. The course should be so interesting that even the plus man is constantly stimulated to improve his game in attempting shots he has hitherto been unable to play.
  13. The course should be so arranged that the long handicap player, or even the absolute beginner, should be able to enjoy his round in spite of the fact that he is piling up a big score.
  14. The course should be equally good during winter and summer, the texture of the greens and fairways should be perfect, and the approaches should have the same consistency as the greens.

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