Neil Crafter, the Australian golf course architect and SAGCA Member, is perhaps best known for his work on the Dr Alister MacKenzie Chronology. This has led to his investigation into the life of one of MacKenzie’s collaborators, Alex Russell, widely regarded as Australia’s finest ever home-grown golf course architect.
Together they designed and constructed the West Course at Royal Melbourne Golf Club. Alex himself was solely responsible for the design of Royal Melbourne’s East Course, Yarra Yarra, Riversdale, Summerland, Lake Karrinyup in Perth and Paraparaumu Beach in New Zealand, all highly rated courses. There are detailed chapters on each of these in the book.
However, he is important to the story of Australian golf for much more than just golf course design as he was a champion golfer, winning the 1924 Australian Open as an amateur, amongst numerous other national and state titles.
The book makes use of period archival photographs, maps and plans to bring together the many threads of Russell’s life. The book commences by discussing the emigration of several of Alex Russell’s forebears from Scotland to Tasmania. Philip Russell (Alex Russell’s great half-uncle) was the first of several brothers to emigrate to central Tasmania in 1831, and other brothers and cousins followed, initially to Tasmania, and then to the Western Districts of Victoria. Alex Russell’s great uncle, George Russell, in 1837, was one of the earliest settlers in the Western District, while Alex’s grandfather, Alexander Russell, settled in the Beaufort area of Victoria in 1847 and named his property ‘Mawallok’. The history of this well-known Merino stud is covered in the book, along with Alex’s achievement in becoming one of the most successful breeders of Merino rams and ewes of his time.
You can purchase Discovering Alex Russell from www.discoveringalexrussell.com/