The architect behind the links - Carnoustie's creator - Allan Robertson

The first article in a series that aims to provide an insight into the life and work of the architects behind the world's greatest courses.

It's the week of The Open at Carnoustie, so who better to start with than Allan Robertson. Carnoustie was his first course, and although golf was played on the land prior to Robertson's work, he is the man who is responsible for formalising the first 10 hole layout on the land before it was standardised into an 18 hole course by Old Tom Morris and later amended into the course we know today by James Braid. Born in St Andrews (where else?) in 1815, the third generation ball maker has a golfing CV that is tough to rival.

Alongside creating the best balls of his time, his clubs were also revered and he had the talent to use them to great effect. Robertson is widely considered to be the first professional golfer and the best player of his generation.

Golf Course Architect Allan Robertson

Closely tied to St Andrews Links, he ran the club shop, captained the club for multiple years and was the first player to break 80 on the Old course before tragically passing away within the year.

Arguably his most notable contribution to the Old course was his work as an architect when he vastly increased the size of the greens to make them more accessible for the average golfer - it was this change that led to iconic double greens at St Andrews.

Employer and early mentor to the legendary Old Tom Morris, they are rumoured to have never lost a match they played together. Their professional partnership together lasted right up until Robertson got wind of Old Tom using a 'new' style guttie ball rather than the featherie balls which they created together. The fuming Robertson sacked Old Tom that same day.

Held in such high regard as a player, Robertson's passing was the catalyst that resulted in the inaugural Open Championship, when the members of Prestwick Golf decided to hold a competition to determine who would succeed Robertson as the best golfer.

Rather belatedly, Allan Robertson was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001. His contribution to the sport during its formative years is one that should be appreciated and never forgotten. 

 

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