Alister Mackenzie is my favorite golf architect.

Not just because he designed some of the greatest courses in the country, but because he understood something that basically all modern architects do not.

This comes up because today is the first time I ever saw this quote and it really pissed me off as nearly every course built between 1990 and today, actually has a reverse discuss grid.  Wide fairways between 200-300 and ever narrowing as you get farther from the tee.

In hindsight, my biggest weakness may have been the inability to hit 3-wood well.  That was always the worst club in my bag.  I didn’t know why then, but do now and that’s a tale for another time.

One year the course where second stage of Q-school was played in the west, 12 of the 14 fairways literally ended at 300 yards or less.  I was often relegated from the longest hitter in the field by a wide margin, to below average, hitting 250-260 iron shots off the tee.  Devil’s advocates used to tell me I could hit an iron straighter than most could hit driver…doesn’t really matter when the fairways are 40-50 yards wide.  I remember one Nike ( event that was played on a Gary Player course, I was stripping driver one after another during a clinic on Tuesday and the head pro, who was the MC, said I could leave that in the car.  He was right.  I hit one wood in 36 holes and that was an attempted 3 wood into a green.

The irony is courses that used to give me nightmares when I was a near tour level player, I tear up now.  I am shorter and I can’t hit it to the narrow parts any more…LOL.

I scored well on every Mackenzie course I ever played.

Someday if I get asked to design a course, I am going to build one with tree lined fairways that are 25 yards wide. Once you get to 300, the fairways go to 40 yards wide and the trees stop.

When people complain how tight the course is, I am going to reply the same thing that was told to me for 20 years.

“The course is the same for everyone.”

I haven’t ranted in a while and this is a rather short and benign one.

PS-I would have been perfectly happy with fairways just as wide…or in the case of the two aforementioned tournaments, actual fairways.


“Long driving is not a crime–it is a virtue and is more frequently by skill and grace of motion than by mere force. Long drivers should be rewarded, and as a general rule they should have greater latitude, and not less, than short drivers. ” – ALISTER MACKENZIE






  1. John Brown

    Suck it up!!

  2. Andy West

    If we had your problems, we’d throw ours away Monte! 🙂

    J/k – I did have the opportunity to play Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz once…what a cool cool course. I was so fortunate to play with a member who could describe where to hit it around the greens. Very memorable!

  3. Calvin

    I like fairways wide all the way to the green.

  4. Ron

    The other thing I like about the MacKenzie courses I have played, is you have more options for reaching the greens, you can run the ball up to the green and not limited to having to hit high approach shots all the time.

  5. Bill B

    Ever play Augusta.? Bet that would fall under course u like -:)

  6. howard pennington

    Tough call on this one. Why shouldn’t one be rewarded for learning how to hit the ball a long way? You get rewarded for hitting it straight. On the other hand, in golf as you try to hit the ball closer to your goal you generally face more hazards….pins are placed close to bunkers or water…bunkers are placed on the inside of doglegs not the outside. On a 400yd par 4 if you want to hit the ball within 100 yds of the target, shouldn’t you face more peril the same as you do in most other areas of golf?


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