Faces of the NCGA: Architect Tom Doak
August 17, 2021
Though he’s a scholar of the late golf course design legend Pete Dye, Tom Doak’s greatest affect has at all times been NCGA Corridor of Fame architect Alister MacKenzie, whose portfolio consists of Northern California gems Cypress Level Membership and Pasatiempo GC.
In 2007, Doak helped restore Pasatiempo, which is situated in Santa Cruz. Amongst his most well-known designs embody Pacific Dunes in Oregon, Ballyneal in Colorado and Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand.
As per his love for MacKenzie, in 2001 Doak penned the e book, ‘The Life and Work of Dr. Alister MacKenzie.’ His newest e book, ‘The Making of Pacific Dunes’ is now obtainable.
Just lately, the NCGA caught up with Doak for a Q&A session.
Q: You’re about to launch your subsequent e book ‘The Making of Pacific Dunes’. Why did you determine to put in writing it? Why ought to everybody decide up a duplicate?
D: I don’t know if “everybody” ought to decide up a duplicate, however there actually isn’t a e book by a golf course architect about all the issues he did to construct a course and why he selected what he did. What holes have been impressed by different programs? What options are pure, and that are constructed? Why did I am going left as a substitute of proper? It made sense to put in writing a few course that a lot of folks have performed and liked, and from my very own work, that’s Pacific Dunes. They’ll be closing in on one million rounds of golf performed there within the subsequent couple of years; hopefully just a few of these individuals are curious in regards to the course.
Q: How did the COVID-19 pandemic have an effect on the present tasks you may have (i.e. visiting websites, zoom vids to debate progress & challenges, undertaking delays because it pertains to COVID journey restrictions and/or provide shortages & will increase in materials prices, and many others.)?
D: I had by no means as soon as attended a Zoom assembly earlier than March of final yr, however I’ve had just a few since then!
The pandemic compelled builders and golf equipment to decide — preserve transferring ahead with the undertaking or sit on their fingers to see what occurred. Most often, if a undertaking had already damaged floor, it made sense to maintain going, but when it hadn’t, it acquired postponed. Most of ours have been on the brink of begin, in order that they have been postponed.
The one which we had greater than half constructed was the brand new St. Patrick’s Hyperlinks in north-west Eire. My associates had simply gone again over there final March to get the previous few fairways and all the tees constructed and grassed, when the pandemic hit, and we needed to shut the factor down and let everybody come house. They went again in August to placed on the ending touches, however I didn’t go to oversee it like I usually would; with the greens already completed, I figured my affiliate Eric Iverson and our workforce there may deal with the remaining. I truly got here again simply this week to see the way it’s wanting, and I’m pleased to say I believe it’s a few of our greatest work. It opens to public play on the finish of June, and hopefully the quarantine guidelines for journey shall be softened later this summer season in order that American golfers can come over and uncover how lovely the golf might be in County Donegal.
The most important impediment to worldwide work is that the principles about COVID simply preserve altering, as governments react to each piece of stories, professional or con. Within the information right here yesterday, there was a scramble for UK and Irish vacationers to get house from Portugal, as a result of there had been a surge of circumstances there, and the federal government determined anybody who wasn’t again by at present must quarantine once they returned . . . as if the folks coming again yesterday weren’t simply as uncovered.
Q: Are you able to inform us about any tasks you may have internationally and when will golf vacationers be capable of expertise these programs?
D: Along with St. Patrick’s, we have now a undertaking in planning simply down the seashore from Tara Iti in New Zealand — a resort course for a similar consumer. Invoice Coore is simply ending his course there now, and ours will get began the primary of subsequent yr, to be prepared for play in 2023. New Zealand is like California with out all the crowds, so there may be loads of alternative to construct on lovely land that you’d by no means be allowed to the touch right here — certainly, our consumer Ric Kayne lives in L.A., however he needed to go to New Zealand to get permission to construct the course he dreamed about.
Q: Up to now a number of years there appears to be a rising curiosity from golfers on the subject after all structure. Why do you assume that’s and has it given you larger satisfaction in your work than you might have had beforehand?
D: Once I acquired eager about golf course design, as a teen, it was very exhausting to seek out a lot to examine it. All the previous books on the subject have been collector’s objects you couldn’t discover on the library. Right now, there may be simply a lot extra protection of the subject; between new books and GolfClubAtlas and half a dozen podcasts that speak about golf programs and design, you possibly can actually fall down the rabbit gap and by no means see daylight once more!
I had the nice probability once I was 21 to spend a yr in Scotland and England and Eire, studying what golf was actually meant to be about, and my strategy to pay that again has been to sing the praises of the previous recreation at any time when I had the prospect. So, it’s been beautiful to see that affect come again into the sport at tasks like Bandon Dunes and Barnbougle and the remaining.
Q: What makes golf in NorCal so particular?
D: There may be such an awesome number of landscapes to construct golf programs on, and the local weather is suited to the sport — in actual fact, for somebody like me who’s at all times lived in snowy winter climates, it’s the very best place to go to from January to March, if I don’t need to go all the best way to Australia.
Q: We’re asking an architect, does the ball should be rolled again?
D: The issue isn’t simply that execs hit the ball longer; it’s that the hole has gotten a lot larger between them and us, in order that no quantity of ahead tees can actually compensate for the distinction. So, the ball must be rolled again for vital competitions, and for the individuals who need to play in them. We’d like bifurcation in tools, to beat the bifurcation in enjoying capacity that the tools has produced.
You could possibly truly do it different methods, like making elite gamers return to persimmon woods with smaller heads — besides that a lot of the gamers on Tour now developed their recreation after these disappeared, and half of them would by no means be capable of modify again away from the sport they know. So it’s simpler to simply change the ball. For everybody else, simply preserve enjoying with the tools you may have, till you get to the purpose that you simply need to play in competitions with the fellows who need to be scaled again.
I truly noticed all of that occur as soon as earlier than, once I lived within the UK in 1982-83. The previous 1.62-in ball was nonetheless in play for amateurs then, it had solely been dominated out for The Open Championship and for The [British] Newbie, and largely as a result of the Individuals who came visiting to play in them didn’t need to have to regulate to enjoying the small ball, but additionally didn’t need to quit 30 yards to the fellows who performed it on a regular basis. Making the American ball larger for the Newbie was the important thing, as a result of over time, that restriction moved its manner again down the meals chain. The fellows who needed to change didn’t need to quit yardage to the 2-handicaps in regional competitions, in order that they made the large ball obligatory for these, too, till finally, you hardly noticed the small ball anymore. The truth that everybody wished to “play the ball the professionals play” grew to become a power for constructive change, as a substitute of resistance. I don’t assume bifurcation is an unpleasant phrase in any respect.
Q: Who was your greatest affect?
D: Ben Crenshaw was a pen pal of mine from the time I began pursuing a design profession in school; he was at all times beneficiant together with his time, and my philosophy of design might be closest to his. However I realized all the things I find out about constructing golf programs from Pete and Alice Dye, and that capacity is actually what allowed me to have a profitable profession; with out them, I might simply have been one other man with an opinion!
Q: What can golf do higher?
D: We’ve acquired to make it simpler for girls and youngsters to play golf and discover out in the event that they prefer it, and loosen up all the costume codes and different stigmas that scare them away. The one motive I used to be in a position to get into golf was that Stamford, Connecticut constructed a public course a mile from my home once I was 9 years previous, and the junior price was $1 after 3 pm. These days, loads of munis like which are run for the good thing about the loudest senior gamers, and too most of the privately-developed programs assume they need to cost $75 or $100 a head or they’ll go bankrupt. What they want is an even bigger pool of gamers who need to play the course; greater inexperienced charges are solely sustainable the place there may be demand for tee occasions.