The evolution of golf courses as shown through photographs.
Augusta National Golf Club: approach and putt course & original clubhouse design
Approach and Putt Course
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Mackenzie's drawing of his approach and putt course, 3 October 1932
Sources: US National Archives & Records Administration; National Park Service Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site; Bing; DigitalGlobe.
Slider design by Matt Smith.
An innovative design, Mackenzie's plan caught Olmsted Brothers, responsible for landscaping the grounds (and lots for housing), by surprise to say the least.
"Studied Dr. MacKenzie's pitch and putt course on the ground and concluded very definitely that the course as planned is impracticable, as it would require
cutting out too much of the wooded area and the playing of shots across the service road would be dangerous. In talking to Jones about this, he said he was not at all
interested in it and asked us not to show the layout on our plan but to mark the area 'Reserved for Park' " -- William Bell Marquis, Olmsted Brothers, trip report dated October 7-11, 1932.
A sense of how radical Mackenzie's short course can be gained by looking at Olmsted Brothers' "placeholder" design. Waiting for Mackenzie's plan and needing to prepare a preliminary landscaping
plan for the clubhouse grounds, the firm penciled in what they thought Mackenzie might deliver.
Olmsted Brothers' clubhouse grounds landscaping plans, with their idea for approach and putt course, 6 January 1932
Source: National Park Service Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.
"The pitch and putt course has not yet been planned by Dr. Mackenzie, so we thought it best not to show the holes but merely to designate the area within which this course
can later be planned and carried out. This area was checked with Dr. Mackenzie last fall. The few holes shown on the 40 scale plan are merely a suggestion for the termination
of the course." -- Edward Whiting, Olmsted Brothers, letter to Clifford Roberts dated 6 January 1932.
Original Clubhouse Design
The drawing above shows a clubhouse very different from the Berckmans house familiar to all today as the only clubhouse the club has known.
Neither Roberts nor the Olmsted Brothers team liked the house; both wanted it torn down.
"The morning of the 5th (October 1931) had a discussion with Willis Irvin, the architect, on our suggestions for the placing and shape of the clubhouse. Dr. Mackenzie and Miller were present...
Mackenzie thought the golf professional's shop should be in the locker room wing, especially as he later decided to have his #1 tee south of this wing. In other words, he has changed the play
on the course so as to have #1 tee where #10 was formerly placed." -- William Bell Marquis, Olmsted Associates, trip report Oct 4-7, 1931
As time went on, despite an architect and a plan for a new clubhouse, it became apparent that due to cost constraints the house would have to do. "The Golf Course construction has been completed and the laying of the automatic irrigation system, as well as the fresh water system, is just about finished. We have done a certain amount of
beautification work and we are making some modest improvements around the old Berckmans' house. I will expect to send you within a few days a copy of the report prepared by our Beautification Committee.
Due to the difficulty in raising capital we are going to defer the construction of the new Club House until a later date. We are going to make some slight improvements in the old Berckmans' House and use
it as a temporary Club House....We have used up about all the cash that is in sight and in order to carry on the maintenance work between now and the time the Course is opened, we are going to have to arrange
for some short term credits." -- Clifford Roberts in letter to Olmsted Brothers dated May 14, 1932. In this letter Roberts writes of the club's membership drive: they planned to issue 18,000 invitations!
The bell tolled for the new clubhouse in October 1932. It would not be mentioned again in the Olmsted records. "The old Berckmans house is being repaired for use this winter. Roberts is still not enthusiastic about saving it permanently, but no need to consider this problem for another season."
-- William Bell Marquis, Olmsted Brothers, report of meeting in New York with Roberts dated October 24, 1932
Still reading? Curious to know what the new clubhouse looked like? The Olmsted Archives do not contain Irvin's plans, but here is Olmsted's suggestion -- Irvin said it is "a good deal more than they will build
but it was noted that the form was capable of being built piecemeal."
Drawing of clubhouse, July-September 1931 (exact date unknown), architect unknown
Source of correspondence and clubhouse drawing: US Library of Congress, Olmsted Brothers records, 1863-1971.