Browsing Golf Industry NewsVIEW ALL

Great Golf Course Architects – Alex Russell, by Neil Crafter

POSTED ON October 20, 2017 @ 9:36 am

Courtesy of the Golf Architecture Magazine

‘A hole is not worth a damn if no one comments on it one way or another” – Alex Russell

Alex Russell was arguably Australia’s finest golf course architect and yet little is generally known of his life, until now.  Neil crafter draws from a new book in Golf Course Architecture‘s October issue.


Alex Russell was born on 4th June 1892 in Geelong, Victoria, to parents Philip and Mary. The family were wealthy pastoralists with a grazing property, “Mawallok”, located in Victoria’s Western Districts near Beaufort.

It is believed that Alex Russell’s grandfather, Alexander, emigrated from Elie in Scotland in 1842 with his two brothers. The Russells were close friends of the Reids of Ratho, who began Australia’s first golf course on their property. Grandfather Alex subsequently moved to Victoria, taking up land at Port Philip, and named his property “Golfhill” – possibly the first record of the word “golf” on mainland Australia.

Golf” magazine of August 10th 1925 reported how Russell had, a few years previous, the makings of a first rate cricketer and tennis player, but poor eyesight was a drawback. Only when he was fitted with spectacles did Russell’s golf reach such lofty heights as the national championship. Russell’s wife Jess was a fine golfer in her own right and was runner-up in the Australian Women’s Amateur Championship on no less than three occasions in 1927, 1930 and 1932.

Russell was elected a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews on 13th August 1951, and held that membership until his death in 1961, a singular honour for an Australian golfer. He was also a member at Barwon Heads Golf Club in Victoria and when in Britain with Prime Minister Bruce, they personally selected Bud Russell (no relation) from Gullane in Scotland to emigrate and be that club’s new professional, a job he held for well over 50 years.

Alex was made a Life Member of Royal Melbourne in 1933 for his services to the club and continued to serve as a member of the club’s Council (Committee) until 1955.

Russell was asked by his club in 1924 to provide a plan for a remodelled 18 holes at Royal Melbourne and this indicates that the Club must have been well aware of his interest in golf course design. He started by drawing a contour plan and then producing a three dimensional model of the planned course in plasticine, skills he would have learnt as a civil engineer and a Major in the Royal Garrison Artillery. This model was on display at the Club for some time and his modelling work commented upon by the press of the day as being “distinctly brainy.

From an international perspective, Russell may not have gained the recognition that he deserved. Without doubt, Alex Russell was a champion golfer, but champions rarely leave anything but a transitory legacy to their sport. In Russell’s case, it is classical golf course architecture,

Click to read full article in Golf Course Architecture

Comments are closed.


CLICK HERE TO Sign Up for the GIC Newsletter for all the latest Industry News.

Grow the Game Central Golf Recruitment Central Golf Marketing Central

Second International Great Britain and Ireland PGA Conferenc...

The PGA Members’ International Conference returned to Thailand...

SEEK: Course Superintendent – Geelong Golf Club...

Programmed Turnpoint are Australia’s premier Golf Course Maintenance...

Strathfield Golf Club returns as inner Sydney’s premier go...

By Mathilda Andersson Sitting in the lawyer’s office...

SEEK: Custom Fit Technician – Callaway Golf South Pacific...

The Fitting Technician conducts themselves as an ambassador for the Callaway Golf brands and delivers the highest standards of customer service to...

Parkwood displays diversity for Golf Month launch in Queensland...

On October 5, Club Parkwood on the Gold Coast teed off a fun-filled day of golf activities in conjunction with this years’...

Innovation in focus at NZ Golf Managers Conference...

Last month Golf Managers New Zealand (GMANZ) 8th Biennial Conference took place in the world’s adventure capital Queenstown, NZ, and gathered golf...

Ian Baker-Finch’s Open triumph leaves lasting legacy for ch...

Ian Baker-Finch, who enjoyed a memorable triumph at The Open in 1991, is to donate $50,000 to charities in Australia and the...

Troon founder to step down as CEO, remain as Chairman...

Dana Garmany, the founder of Troon, the world’s leading golf course management company, announced yesterday that he will be...

Royal Melbourne voted 6th most exclusive Golf & Country Club...

One of Australia’s oldest golf clubs, Royal Melbourne, have received the ultimate recognition when making the list (#6) of...

Cam Ranh on Vietnam’s Southern Coastline Takes Off...

Vietnam’s Cam Ranh is soaring for the stars with Bangkok Airways emerging as the latest in a string of...

Dual accolades for Hong Kong

Hong Kong Open presented by Amundi and its host venue, the Hong Kong Golf Club, clinched the Asian Tour...

GIC Summer E-Magazine OUT NOW!

This Summer issue will recap the year behind us and take you around the region and give insight to...

Tiger Woods and Discovery’s GOLFTV Announce Exclusive Partnersh...

In a major development as part of the strategic partnership between Discovery, Inc. and the PGA TOUR, GOLFTV has...