William Watson

Full Name
William Watson
Year of Birth
1860
Year of Death
1941 (aged 81)
Place Born
Kemback, Fife, Scotland
Place Died
Los Angeles, California, USA

The Minikahda Club was Watson’s first American architectural design and he would go on to design or redesign over 120 golf clubs from Virginia to California. He began designing golf courses during a time period when most people in the United States knew nothing about the game of golf much less how to play or had access to golf clubs. Marty Joy, Belvedere GC Head Professional

William Watson was born in his family’s Dura Den Cottage, outside Cupar in Fife, in 1860. He was the first of seven children – three boys and four girls – brought into the world by Mary and John Cobb Watson. His father operated farms and mills in the local area, spending his leisure time playing golf on the links at St Andrews, where he was a member of the R&A.

When not playing golf, Watson helped to look after his father’s flax seed mills whilst also studying at St. Andrews University. His parents often entertained visiting golfers and one of these guests was Judge Martin B. Koon from Minneapolis, who was introduced to the family by banker David R. Forgan, a former resident of St. Andrews.

The judge was suitably impressed by Watson's golfing knowledge. After returning to Minnesota, Koon and a number of influential Minneapolis businessmen met to discuss setting up their own golf course and it didn’t take them long to decide the best man to lay out their initial 9-hole course.

William accepted their invitation to leave home and set sail for the United States, boarding the RMS Etruria at Liverpool in England in October of 1898 then crossing the Atlantic to assist with establishing what became the Minikahda Club in Minneapolis.

This was Watson’s first American project and he would go on to design or redesign over a hundred courses from Virginia in the east to California in the west. He started out when most people in the United States knew little about the game, soon becoming known as a golfing authority.

The following is an edited extract from an article written by Marty Joy, the Head professional at Belvedere Golf Club in Michigan....

If the above article is inaccurate, please let us know by clicking here

Featured courses designed, remodelled and added to by William Watson

Annandale

92nd California - Best in Area

Annandale Golf Club is a 1906 Willie Watson and Billy Bell design, altered down the years by a number of architects. The layout underwent a sympathetic makeover from Brian Silva to mark its centenary in 2007.

Read More >>

Average Reviewers Score:
TaylorMade

Belvedere

20th Michigan - Best in Area

Belvedere Golf Club dates back to 1925 and within two years of its formation, William Watson, the architect of the Lake course at the Olympic Club, had fashioned eighteen fairways for the members...

Read More >>

Average Reviewers Score:
TaylorMade

Hacienda

59th California - Best in Area

William Watson is an unheralded Golden Age architect who designed numerous courses (primarily in California) and one of his best is the Hacienda Golf Club nestled among the trees and streams of La Habra Heights.

Read More >>

Average Reviewers Score:
TaylorMade

Hillcrest Country Club - California

76th California - Best in Area

Willie Watson designed the original course at the exclusive Hillcrest Country Club, but plenty changed when Kyle Phillips was appointed in 2018 to redesign the existing layout, adding six new holes to the set-up.

Read More >>

Average Reviewers Score:
TaylorMade

Interlachen

2nd Minnesota - Best in Area 80th USA Ranking 93rd North America Ranking

During the 1930 US Open at Interlachen Country Club, Bobby Jones skimmed his ball over the water on the 9th to make a birdie which went a long way to ensuring he achieved the "Grand Slam".

Read More >>

Average Reviewers Score:
TaylorMade

Minikahda

5th Minnesota - Best in Area

Minikahda – whose name comes from two Sioux Indian words meaning “by the side of the water” – dates back to 1898 when an amazing total of 600 members formed the club...

Read More >>

Average Reviewers Score:
TaylorMade

Olympic Club (Ocean)

41st California - Best in Area

Regarded as the main attraction when the Olympic Club’s golf facility first opened in the 1920s, the Ocean has long since been overtaken in prominence by the Lake course.

Read More >>

Average Reviewers Score:
TaylorMade

Orinda

95th California - Best in Area

William Watson designed the course at Orinda Country Club in 1924, the year the club was founded. Nestled in the San Pablo Valley, the tree-lined fairways are set within a 250-acre property where natural features such as two canyons and the Lauterwasser Creek come into play.

Read More >>

Average Reviewers Score:
TaylorMade

Salt Lake Country Club

6th Utah - Best in Area

One of the rare Golden Age designs in Utah, Salt Lake Country Club was pegged out by William Watson (of Olympic Club and Interlachen fame) and Harold Lamb back in 1920. More recently, John Harbottle carried out a renovation in 2006.

Read More >>

Average Reviewers Score:
TaylorMade

William Watson Leaderboard

Rank Name Courses Played
1 Joseph Andriole Courses Played 7
= Paul Rudovsky Courses Played 7
= David Harak Courses Played 7
4 Fergal O'Leary Courses Played 6
5 Bob McCoy Courses Played 5
= BRUCE C BEARER JR Courses Played 5
= Ron Stelten Courses Played 5
= Cory Lewis Courses Played 5
9 Paul Jones Courses Played 4
= James Gold Courses Played 4