A Scottish Golf Pioneer Develops the American WestGolf Course Architect William Watson By Dean Knuth
William Watson was an important pioneer of early golf course architecture who is all but forgotten.
You know the names of Donald Ross, Alister Mackenzie and A.W. Tillinghast. You may not know William Watson, a man whom history has passed over, but you should.
William Watson had a successful career and designed more than 100 golf courses before his retirement in 1930, when the Great Depression began, at the age of 70. Many of his courses have survived for a century, including his first U.S. design, the Minikahda Club in Minnesota. That is where he also landed his first job as head professional.
Watson immigrated from Fife, Scotland, near St. Andrews to America in 1898. He was a prolific designer and a success in California. A number of his other best-known designs have hosted major USGA and PGA National Championships, including Harding Park, San Diego Country Club, the original Brentwood Country Club, Diablo Country Club, Berkeley Country Club and Orinda Country Club. He designed the original The Olympic Club Lake and Ocean courses plus many others which unfortunately did not survive housing developments on land that became more valuable as America grew.