The Sleeping Bear Press is a specialty publisher based in Michigan that focuses on the publication of high-quality children’s books. Prior to their focus on children’s books, Sleeping Bear Press also focused on high-end golf related books including The Confidential Guide to Golf, The Scrapbook of Old Tom Morris, and The Captain: George C. Thomas. One of the other golf books they published prior to their switch to children’s only fits the same mold as the others (well researched, high quality and beautifully produced) was The Life and Work of Dr. Alister Mackenzie, published in 2001.
The book was the work of three people: Tom Doak, the golf course architect. James S. Scott, a retired physician/professor from England and Raymund M. Haddock, a stepgrandson of Alister Mackenzie. The book is a biography of Dr. Mackenzie, the designer of Cypress Point, Augusta National, Royal Melbourne, Crystal Downs, Lahinch and Pasatiempo.
The book is chocked full of vintage black and white a color photos of both Mackenzie at various times throughout his life and of his golf courses. It also includes copies of letters and other correspondence written by Mackenzie.
The appendix includes a list of every course designed or renovated by Mackenzie. We all know the obvious courses because they are so famous. What I found interesting is that Mackenzie designed over 65 courses around the world including courses in Uruguay and Argentina and Canada and redesigned over 20 courses.
Copies of architectural plans or hole designs for many of his courses are included in the book including The Valley Club of Montecito near Santa Barbara. There are also extensive period black and white pictures of the Valley Club, a real beauty.
As an example of the depth of research involved in the book is a detailed drawing of a proposed suspension bridge Mackenzie thought about putting in on the 18th hole at Cypress Point. Cypress has an unbelievably spectacular set of finishing holes along the water starting at the 13th green through the 18th tee. The 18th teeing ground features Monterey bay at your back. There is a rocky outcropping in Big Sur about fifty yards further back from the current tee. Caddies always mention that Mackenzie had wanted to put a tee back there, which you are never quite sure whether it is true or urban legend. Mackenzie’s detailed drawing of a bridge puts to rest any doubt about whether this was seriously considered. Obviously, it was. Too bad it was not put it, it would have make the finish at Cypress even more dramatic than it is. It was rejected because it was felt (probably rightly) that the bridge could not withstand the frequent winter storms that the Monterey Peninsula gets.
The book was produced in a run of between 3,000 and 5,000 books according to the publisher, making it an uncommon title to find.