A non-golfing surveyor, Raynor was plucked from obscurity by C.B. Macdonald in 1907 to help create his field of dreams at The National Golf Links on Long Island. Macdonald once quipped that Raynor barely knew one end of a golf club from the other, but he was an intelligent man and Macdonald taught him the virtues of great golf and how to find areas of virgin land where the best golfing holes and features could be replicated.
Although none of Raynor’s holes were originals, he did become an expert at identifying suitable ground for golf and routing courses in such a way that his replicas could be best adapted to the site. His par threes were especially effective. Some clearly worked better than others, but most of the really memorable Redan, Eden and Biarritz holes built during the last century came from Raynor. His best courses, Fishers Island, Chicago Golf Club and Yeamans Hall are terrific, as are those on the next tier down such as Shoreacres, The Creek Club, Camargo, Piping Rock and Yale.
Raynor was an unlikely golf course architect; indoctrinated by Macdonald to spread the gospel of great golf across America, he essentially worked so that his mentor didn’t have to.