Septins are conserved filament-forming proteins that assemble into cortical cytoskeletal structures in animal and fungal cells. Although rapid progress has been made into the functions of septins, the mechanisms governing their localization and organization remain mysterious. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Cdc42p organizes the septin cytoskeleton into a ring in preparation for bud formation, following which septins remain as a collar at the mother-bud neck. We have dissected the phenotype of cdc42(V36T,K94E) cells that display an aberrant cell shape correlated with the development of ectopic septin caps and rings within the bud. The results suggest that a well-assembled septin cortex plays a novel role in directing growth to shape the nascent bud, and that a disorganized septin cortex directs improper growth generating an aberrant neck. Conversely, we found that the elongated bud shape arising as a result of the morphogenesis checkpoint cell cycle delay that accompanies septin perturbation can feed back to exacerbate minor defects in septin organization, by maintaining a bud-tip-localized septin assembly activity that competes with the neck-localized septin cortex. Using this exacerbation as a tool, we uncovered septin organization defects in many mutants not previously known to display such defects, expanding the cast of characters involved in proper assembly of the septin cortex to include CLN1, CLN2, BNI1, BNI4, BUD3, BUD4 and BUD5.