A course scenic view of the of the 17th hole during the first round of the Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae Country Club on January 11, 2018 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The main disciple of “Father of golf course architecture” Charles Blair Macdonald, Seth Raynor left a lasting mark on the game in what proved to be a tragically brief career. His role in golf course design’s “Golden Age” is hard to overstate, as evidenced by both the presence of his designs on countless “Top 100” lists, and the extent to which modern-day architects draw inspiration from his designs.

Raynor, along with Macdonald and fellow protege Charles Banks, is responsible for the concept of “template” golf course design. On every Raynor course, nearly every hole is named after a famously influential hole from the British Isles. Par threes are a particularly memorable platform for the “MacRaynor” templates of “Redan,” “Biarritz,” “Eden” and “Short.”

The Redan, inspired by the 15th at North Berwick, is the most famous of all templates: a par three whose green is shaped to run from front-right to back-left, such that a well-struck, right-to-left mid-iron shot will have the ball run across the green lengthwise in order to access an otherwise dangling rear-left hole location. Famous Raynor Redans include the 17th at Waialae Country Club (recently restored by Tom Doak) in Hawaii and the sixth at Yeamans Hall outside Charleston, South Carolina. Another noted example of the template is found at the 11th hole at Mountain Lake Club in Lake Wales, Florida.

The 11th at Mountain Lake is one of the great Redan par 3s built by Seth Raynor.
(NB: In March 2019, Golf Advisor’s Brad Klein will be leading a group of avid golfers on a trip to nearby Streamsong Resort. attendees will also have the chance to play Mountain Lake, an exclusive private enclave. Click here for details)

Perhaps Raynor’s most famous contribution to the art of golf course architecture came at The Course at Yale where, alongside C.B. Macdonald, he and his crew blasted away tons of rock from a massive site to create one of golf’s boldest courses. Many templates are present here, but so too are several one-off marvels, like the par-4 10th with an ingenious three-level green in the sky; and the wild 621-yard par-5 18th, which requires golfers to play around, up and over a 40-foot hill. One of the most controversial Golden Age holes, it is a perfect recap of the adventure that is a round at Yale, and an engineering marvel. Unfortunately, Raynor passed away at the age of 51 in early 1926, months before the course would open.
Ginella: Top 5 Seth Raynor designs

An architect with no golf background


Perhaps the most intriguing fact of Raynor’s story is that he did not play golf himself. A trained civil engineer and surveyor – Raynor met Macdonald while Macdonald was preparing to build his famous National Golf Links of America in 1908 – Raynor nevertheless had a deep understanding of effective golf course architecture, and was able to manufacture both compelling and functional courses in a variety of settings, from the rocky soils of New Haven, Connecticut to the flat seaside of Palm Beach, Florida, where his final design, The Everglades Club, was built.

The majority of Raynor’s courses are private – many particularly exclusive – but there are some courses he worked on that the public may enjoy. They include the Old White TPC at The Greenbrier (with Macdonald), Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda (also with Macdonald), the courses at Thousand Islands Country Club in northern New York and the nine-hole Hotchkiss School course in Lakeville, Connecticut.

Review Statistics

Average Rating

4.6
Average Rating
4.6
55
Total 55 Reviews
52 Featured Reviews

Rating Breakdown

52 Reviews
4-5 stars
28
3-4 stars
2
2-3 stars
0
1-2 stars
0
Unrated
22
Avg. Course Layout
4.6
Avg. Off-Course Amenities
4.5
Avg. Value for the Money
4.2
Avg. Pace of Play
4.7
Avg. Friendliness
4.7
Avg. Course Conditions
4.6

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