Pasatiempo Golf Club - hole 1
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Pasatiempo Golf Club - hole 1
Pasatiempo Golf Club is the most acclaimed of the public courses by Dr. Alister MacKenzie. Pictured is the first hole. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
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Haggin Oaks - MacKenzie golf course - hole 4
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Haggin Oaks - MacKenzie golf course - hole 4
The fourth hole on the MacKenzie Course at Haggin Oaks Golf Complex features an approach shot over a water pond. Ted Johnson/Golf Advisor
University of Michigan Golf Course - hole 6
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University of Michigan Golf Course - hole 6
For classic Alister MacKenzie golf, find a way to play the University of Michigan Golf Course, a 1931 gem. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Ohio State - Scarlet golf course
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Ohio State - Scarlet golf course
The first par 5 on the Scarlet Course at Ohio State is classic risk-reward hole by Dr. Alister MacKenzie. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
Palmetto Golf Club
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Palmetto Golf Club
Once a year during The Masters, the private Palmetto Golf Club opens its doors, allowing outsiders to sample golf by Dr. Alister MacKenzie. Courtesy of Palmetto G.C.
Lahinch Golf Club - Old golf course - 7th
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Lahinch Golf Club - Old golf course - 7th
The Old Course at Lahinch in Ireland is one of a handful of premier public-access courses around the world that showcase the handiwork of Dr. Alister MacKenzie. David Cannon/Getty Images
Northwood Golf Course
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Northwood Golf Course
In Sonoma, Calif., Dr. Alister Mackenzie built the low-key, yet spectacular nine-hole Northwood Golf Course carved through dense, towering redwoods. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 12
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Sharp Park Golf Course - hole 12
The cliffs at Sharp Park Golf Course along the Pacific Ocean are visible from the 12th green. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor

In Photos: Top public Alister MacKenzie golf courses in the U.S.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -- Every spring, the genius of Dr. Alister MacKenzie is revisited with the playing of The Masters at Augusta National .

And while many of MacKenzie's best U.S. courses -- Augusta, California's Cypress Point Club and Michigan's Crystal Downs C.C. -- are private, there are a handful of exceptions.

Northern California is an epicenter of MacKenzie's public-access golf. MacKenzie lived in a modest house along Pasatiempo Golf Club , a famed semi-private club in Santa Cruz, Calif. Its location is marked by a statue in the backyard and a plaque along the sidewalk. Solving MacKenzie at Pasatiempo means reading ferocious greens, while avoiding tortuous traps and deep barrancas. It's a timeless classic that's tough to beat on the scorecard.

MacKenzie's handiwork lives on at two municipal facilities, Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica near San Francisco and at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in Sacramento. Both are local favorites and are affordable for residents. A lawsuit filed by environmentalists who wanted Sharp Park to close was dismissed in 2012.

Two hours north in Monte Rio, Northwood Golf Club offers a unique nine-hole tour of the towering redwoods.

Accessible Alister MacKenzie golf courses in the Midwest

The Midwest is home to two rival college courses designed by Alister MacKenzie -- the University of Michigan Golf Course in Ann Arbor and the Scarlet Course at Ohio State in Columbus. At OSU, all it takes is one friend who is a student or is a full-time worker at the university to find your way on. There are thousands of such people. In 2015, Michigan opened its MacKenzie treasure to the masses by creating a golf package that allows anybody to play.

Play Palmetto Golf Club during Masters week

The private Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken, S.C. provides the most unique way to play MacKenzie golf. It opens its doors once a year during Masters week. Head Professional Brooks Blackburn sees many of the same faces year after year. Tee times made available in January are mostly sold out by mid-March, he said. The green fees in 2015 are $225 per person, a small price to pay for a chance to enjoy another classic course with ties to MacKenzie, who converted the Palmetto sand greens to grass and lengthened the layout.

Chasing MacKenzie -- a globetrotting Scotsman who designed the Old Course at Lahinch Golf Club , Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia and others -- isn't easy, but it's certainly rewarding.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Can't get onto Augusta or Cypress Point. Head to Pasatiempo G.C., a revered Alister MacKenzie design.
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In Photos: Top public Alister MacKenzie golf courses in the U.S.
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