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.

Please enter your details:

I am interested in:

  • News
  • Operations
  • Marketing
  • Recruitment / Jobs
  • Grow the Game
Golf Industry Central Grow the Game Central Golf Recruitment Central Golf Operations Central

The brand new Ranfurlie Range opens its doors...

The Ranfurlie Golf Club has opened its brand...

Struggling sports clubs become gold mine for aged-care devel...

Indicative image of proposed new clubhouse at Pacific...

Help Aussie quadriplegic golfer change lives through documen...

  Prior to his accident, James Gribble was...

Finalists named for Queensland golf awards...

The Queensland Golf Industry is pleased to announce the finalists for their upcoming Awards Night incorporating the PGA Trainee graduation to be...

SEEKING: Golf Salesperson and Club Fitter – The House of Go...

At The House of Golf, we pride ourselves on our ability and desire to be part of your golfing journey, not just...

SEEKING: WA Sales Agent – Golf – Sporte Leisure...

Would you like to join Australia’s leading Golf Apparel Company? Sporte Leisure has long been recognised as Australia’s leading wholesale golf apparel...

SEEKING: Car park Attendant – Royal Sydney Golf Club...

Royal Sydney is a Sydney icon originally established in 1893. It recognised nationally and internationally for its world class facilities. With 17...

Golf’s new world handicap system designed to welcome more golfe...

The way golfers around the world will calculate their handicaps is set to be transformed by a new system...

KZG Golf Announces The World’s Top 100 ClubFitters for 2018...

KZG, The #1 Custom Proline in Golf Equipment, announces the 2018 Honorees for the title “World’s Top 100 ClubFitters”....

Asian Golf Industry Federation Summit Strikes a Chord on Sustaina...

Delivering a keynote address at an Asian Golf Industry Federation-organised Club Management Mini Summit, Jonathan Smith, Founder and Executive...

Update: Two options for public in battle over Fanling golf course...

The public will be consulted on whether it would like the Fanling Golf Club to be partially or wholly...

Help Aussie quadriplegic golfer change lives through documentary ...

  Prior to his accident, James Gribble was not only a successful investment banker but an active sportsperson and...

Cancer Council NSW swings golfers towards good sun protection...

Cancer Council NSW is partnering with former golf pro Paul Gow to encourage golfers to reduce their skin cancer...