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:

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Featured courses designed, remodelled and added to by William Watson

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...

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Hacienda

72nd 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.

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Interlachen

2nd Minnesota - Best in Area 81st USA 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".

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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...

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TaylorMade

Olympic Club (Ocean)

45th 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.

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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.

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San Diego

62nd California - Best in Area

The course at San Diego Country Club dates back to 1921 and it's an old William Watson design which has hosted the US Women’s Open Championship in 1964 and the US Women’s Amateur Championship in 1993 and 2017.

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TPC Harding Park

49th California - Best in Area

Harding Park Golf Course has a long history that dates back to 1925 when the course was laid out by William Watson and Sam Whiting.

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White Bear Yacht Club

1st Minnesota - Best in Area 63rd USA Ranking 72nd North America Ranking

With modest length, White Bear Yacht Club requires accuracy rather than length from the tee. If you suffer from a lack of balance, it might not be the golf course for you as you will seldom get a flat stance.

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Average Reviewers Score:
TaylorMade