Industry News

Architecture conference will celebrate Scottish influence on design

A major conference next month will celebrate Scotland’s pioneering golf course architects and the lasting impact they have had on the game across the world.

‘Design Masters: The Scottish International Golf Course Architects Conference’ will be held in Inverness from 28 February to 3 March 2017.

The event will discuss the legacy of greats such as Old Tom Morris, James Braid, Donald Ross, Willie Park Jr and Alister MacKenzie and their enduring effect on modern day design and internationally known courses including Royal Dornoch and Castle Stuart Golf Links.

Organised by the Golf Tourism Development Group, will be chaired by Adam Lawrence, editor of Golf Course Architecture magazine. Others already signed up to take part include Tom Mackenzie, from designers Mackenzie and Ebert and president of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects; Bradley S. Klein, architecture editor of Golfweek magazine and the founding editor of Superintendent News and Sam Thomas, manager of golf development at the Golf Environment Organization.

They will be joined by Thad Layton, senior golf course architect at the Arnold Palmer Design Company, which is involved in plans to build a second championship course at Castle Stuart; and leading clubhouse designer Mungo Park.

Mungo Park has a direct family link to golfing history. His great grandfather, Willie Park, won the Open championship twice, including the first event in 1860. Willie’s brother, Mungo, also won the tournament in 1874.

Willie’s son, Willie Park Jr, went on to win the last Open to be played in his home town of Musselburgh in 1889. By that time, he had begun designing and laying out courses, his first being at Innerleithen in 1886, aged 22.

During the Design Masters conference, delegates will visit a number of historic courses in the Scottish Highlands, including Royal Dornoch Golf Club, which last year marked 400 years of the game being played in the town’s links, Brora Golf Club, which marked its 125th anniversary in 2016, and Castle Stuar, which only opened in 2009 but has since hosted the Scottish Open on four occasions.

Royal Dornoch was formed in 1877 and the first 18-hole course was laid out in 1886 by Old Tom Morris who extended the original nine holes and introduced the trademark plateau greens. It is also renowned as the place where Donald Ross honed his skills before going on to design some of the finest courses in the US, including Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina.

Neil Hampton, general manager of Royal Dornoch Golf Club, said: “Scotland is known as the Home of Golf and many of our early innovators like Old Tom Morris and James Braid were real pioneers on course architecture and helped raise the popularity of golf with their innovative designs.

“Old Tom Morris and Donald Ross both had an impact on the way Royal Dornoch developed and these and other designers are still highly regarded today as this conference will demonstrate.”

To book a place or to find further information see


Old Tom Morris, born in St Andrews, was instrumental in transforming the lay-out of both Prestwick and the Old Course. He designed or remodelled about 60 courses, including the internationally acclaimed Royal Dornoch, Machrihanish, Portrush, Muirfield and Nairn. His lay-out of a course at Askernish in South Uist was ‘re-discovered’ and re-opened in 2008 and is now a popular port of call for golfing aficionados.

Braid, from Earlsferry in Fife, designed more than 200 courses, including Brora, the most northerly memorial to his work in Scotland.

Donald Ross, a native of Dornoch and an early apprentice of Old Tom Morris, is best known for his ‘masterpiece’ design at Pinehurst No 2 in California, one of the world’s most celebrated golf courses which has hosted more golf championships than any course in America and will stage the U.S. Open in 2024.

Although not born in Scotland, Alister MacKenzie had Scottish ancestry. His most acclaimed design is at Augusta National Golf Club, home of the US Masters, with Bobby Jones, one of its founders. It is regularly ranked among the finest courses in the world.

MacKenzie’s inspirational book 'Golf Architecture' (1920) has influenced many golf designers, including Americans Mark Parsinen and Gil Hanse, who created Castle Stuart Golf Links, which hosted the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open for the fourth time in six years in 2016.

MacKenzie’s view that “the best courses are pleasurable to all players… and that the best courses are in time felt and admired as works of beauty” tally with the ethos of Parsinen, also the co-designer of the Kingsbarns course at St Andrews, and Hanse, who created the course for this year’s Olympics in Rio.

About the Golf Tourism Development Group (GTDG) 

The Golf Tourism Development Group comprises VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Golf Ltd, the Professional Golfers’ Association, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Scottish Government, as well as representatives from each of the Regional Golf Development Groups. Its primary aim is to enable the public agencies and industry stakeholders to work together to improve the development, delivery and promotion of golf tourism in Scotland.

For more information contact – 

David Connor, Golf PR Manager, VisitScotland at