The first hole at Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, California.
Joan Dost
By Joe Passov
Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It's no surprise that playing an Alister MacKenzie course usually feels like a battle between man and nature — it was while serving as a civil surgeon in South Africa's Boer War that MacKenzie learned the tricks of his trade. The good doctor became intrigued by the Boers' strategic use of camouflage. It was a lesson he passed on to us as an architect.

MacKenzie designed some of the world's best courses — including Cypress Point, Royal Melbourne and of course, Augusta National. His legacy includes precious few public- access courses, but there are still a some choice locations where you can sample the doctor's medicine. Here's where to start.

Pasatiempo Golf Club
Santa Cruz, Calif.
6,439 yards, par 70; Greens fees:
$175-$195; 831-459-9155,
pasatiempo.com
In the early 1930s, MacKenzie said, "I have always wanted to live where one could practice shots in one's pajamas before breakfast." He promptly retired to a home off the sixth fairway on his greatest public-access course, which made its debut in 1929. Don't be fooled by Pasatiempo's lack of length. Rolling terrain, slender fairways, bold bunkering and quick, canted greens make for a relentless test.

Lahinch Golf Club
County Clare, Ireland
6,882 yards, par 72; Greens fees:
$202; 011-353-657081003,
lahinchgolf.com
Old Tom Morris gets credit for Lahinch, but MacKenzie created 14 new holes in 1927, so give the doctor his due. MacKenzie infused the layout with his brand of drama and beauty, managing to make them vexing tests for scratch golfers while still giving middle handicappers a fighting chance.

Northwood Golf Club
Monte Rio, Calif.
2,893 yards, par 36; Greens fees:
$27-$42 (18 holes); 707-865-1116,
northwoodgolf.com
Playing golf amid towering red- woods is like flaunting a fur coat at a PETA rally — you know you shouldn't do it, but it's just so much fun. Many of the strategic features of this 1928 nine-holer have eroded over time, but it still exudes a MacKenzie aura.

Royal Melbourne (West Course)
Black Rock, Victoria, Australia
6,589 yards, par 72; Greens fees:
$275; 011-61-3-9598-6755,
royalmelbourne.com.au
The West Course has some of the most brilliant bunkering anywhere. Without water hazards or gimmicks, this MacKenzie course could be the game's purest great design.

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