Architect Max Howell Behr’s Scottish grandfather and father were founders of the St Andrews Golf Club in Yonkers, New York, and Max was the first Yale graduate to become a golf course architect following a five-year period as editor of Golf Illustrated magazine during World War I.
Aged 34, he moved to California after the untimely death of his young wife and turned his hand to golf course design with a degree of success, fashioning around a dozen courses in the Golden State during the 1920s.
Alister MacKenzie is said to have recommended him for the Rancho Santa Fe job as he was too busy with the design of Cypress Point, completing the work started by Seth Raynor who died unexpectedly after producing a routing plan. Interestingly, Behr is reputed to have received a fee of $9,000, a thousand dollars more than MacKenzie received for Cypress Point.
Behr said of his work here: “A new principle of golf course design has been put into effect at Rancho Santa Fe which permits the average golfer, even the beginner, to enjoy the round without constantly being in trouble and yet at the same time offers the expert a serious and exciting test of golf. Not a single hazard has been constructed with the idea of penalizing errors of skill. On the contrary, the hazards are located with the sole object of defending the hole.”
The course at Rancho Santa Fe was the site of the first Bing Crosby “Clambake” Pro-Am tournament from 1937 to 1942, an event that grew in stature to become the PGA Tour’s AT& T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The 1954 San Diego Open was also held here, as was the 2006 USGA Junior Amateur championship.
DMK Golf Design is currently retained at Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club to advise on restorations and other architectural changes the club wishes to make.
I only played the very private course once as a guest. It is VERY good. But then again, I like 'old school' golf.
Phil Michelson is a member and practices here. That should say something.