Tom DoakTom Doak is a golf course architect of International repute and currently  has countless courses that are constantly ranked as among the best in the world. A student of the great Pete Dye, Doak was always destined to produce some of the world’s best courses but it is his fondness and knowledge of Dr. Alister Mackenzie that has perhaps had the biggest influence on his work. Doak is known as a minimalist designer and his courses often follow the natural lay of the land. Here are ten of his finest efforts to date.



Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort – USA

Bandon Dunes Pacific

Unlike many of the world class golf courses that have been constructed in recent years the courses at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort have not been created with professional tournaments in mind and thus are more manageable for the mere club golfer.

This 6,673 yard course has been laid out over a rugged yet beautiful landscape and the result is quite astonishing. Doak has carved memorable hole after memorable hole through the dunes, humps and hillocks of the Oregon coastline. While Oregon may not be as famous for golf as other regions in the USA but when you consider some of the golf courses situated on the Pacific coast including Pebble Beach, The Links at Spanish Bay and Spyglass Hill it is safe to say the terrain is suited to the construction of golf courses!



Barnbougle Dunes – Australia

Barnbougle

Tasmania may not be synonymous with golf but as far as world class golf courses go it doesn’t get much better than Barnbougle Links. Barnbougle Links is situated on the coast just North of Launceston. This terrain the course is set on is wild and unkempt and yet the golf course laid down by Doak is a thing of beauty.

To plan a layout worthy of the towering dunes that now define the course Tom Doak teamed up with Michael Clayton and their efforts have certainly been rewarded. Some of the dunes can reach an imposing and intimidating 100 feet tall and the course follows every hump, swale and hollow of the natural landscape meaning Barnbougle is the closest thing you can get to a traditional Scottish links course in Australia.



Sebonack – USA

Sebonack

When Tom Doak puts his signature to a golf course it is usually enough of a reason grab your clubs and jump on the next plane out to which ever country the course resides in. Add Jack Nicklaus to the mix and you should have a golf course to die for. Doak worked with the Golden Bear on the course at Sebonack Golf Club in New York and the results are breathtaking.

Sebonack is situated in the exclusive Hamptons and as such the membership is pretty pricey. Reportedly the annual subscription will set you back $650,000 so unless you happen to befriend an existing member we’re thinking the chances of securing a round here are slim! This is a shame really as Nicklaus and Doak have created a wonderfully natural golf course that follows the natural lay of the land with fairways that sweep their way past enormous bunkers and waste dunes.

Considering the vastly differing design styles of the two architects in question this collaboration is all the more impressive.



The Renaissance Club – Scotland

The Renaissance Club

Tom Doak is one of the finest golf course architects around; proof of which is the fact that he boasts a handful of courses that are constantly ranked among the finest in the world so it comes as no surprise that his first creation in the home of golf is pretty special. With courses like Cape Kidnappers, Barnbougle Dunes and Pacific Dunes already in his portfolio, the Renaissance Club had a lot to live up to and by all accounts it has done just that.

Carved out of 300 acres of stunning pine forest the course doesn’t follow the typical blueprint set down by Scotland’s older classics like St Andrews, Royal Troon and Carnoustie but this gives The Renaissance Club an added X factor. The course can range in length thanks to a selection of tees and at its longest it can stretch to a monstrous 7,426 yards in length meaning we may just see the world’s finest turning up in the coming years for tournament golf.



Heathlands CourseHeathlands Course at The Legends Golf Resort – USA

The stunning Heathlands Course at the Legends Golf Resort is a throwback to the traditional links courses of the UK and Ireland and Doak’s design is on par with great names like Lahinch, Cruden Bay and St Andrews. The Heathlands Course is relatively open compared to other courses in the Myrtle Beach area and as such its primary defence is the wind although, like the classic UK links courses, intelligent bunkering and penal rough also provide a serious challenge.

The Heathlands Course opened for play in 1990 and was an instant hit with many people lavishing praise on it and some considering it to one of the top 10 resort courses in the world. South Carolina is a golfing haven and Myrtle Beach in particular is replete with world class golf courses like the Heathlands at the Legends Club.



Cape Kidnappers – New Zealand

Cape Kidnappers

Tom Doak must have thought he was dreaming when he was handed the incredible piece of land that Cape Kidnappers resides on. The entire golf course is spectacular but upon reaching the back nine golfers must find it hard to concentrate on the job in hand. Fingers of land that are punctuated by cavernous gorges and deep gullies jut out into the sea and from 400 feet above the waves rolling into Hawkes Bay look like mere ripples on a pond.

Doak’s design ethos is to use the natural lay of the land to create spectacular golf courses and Cape Kidnappers may just be his finest effort to date. The golf course isn’t just spectacular to look at, it plays well also. In 2008 the course hosted the Kiwi Challenge where Hunter Mahan emerged victorious in a playoff against Anthony Kim and judging by the success of this event Cape Kidnappers should be hosting professional tournaments for years to come.



Apache StrongholdApache Stronghold – USA

According to legend the Apache Stronghold is a region created by God Usen that would be abundant with everything the Apache people would ever need to survive. The patch of land on which this stunning desert golf course has been built is surrounded by the Chiricahuas, Aravaipas, Superstition and White Mountains which provide a dramatic backdrop to this already beautiful golf course.

As with many Doak designs the natural beauty of the land has been preserved at every possible juncture and this 7, 500 course will be a real test to even the longest and most skilful golfers. Apache Stronghold is essentially target golf as the player must negotiate the desert washes, arroyos and sandy wastelands in order to find the pristine fairways and slick putting surfaces. If desert golf is up your street then a golf break to Arizona and specifically Apache Stronghold is a must.



Stone Eagle – USA

Stone Eagle

The Stone Eagle golf course is a desert golf course in California that hovers 1000 feet above the floor of the valley in which it resides. Breathtaking holes are routed in and around stunning land formations and as usual Doak has deftly incorporated the natural undulations which, in this case, are simply mind boggling. Course management is a must as desert wasteland and tranquil water hazards await any stray shots. This is target golf at its best as around the greens the player is forced to come up with creative escapes much like the classic links courses in the UK and Ireland.

The golfer is constantly tested by subtle and in some cases dramatic elevation changes so club selection can be tricky. Though most of Doak’s courses have been built on land perfectly suited to golf course construction, Stone Eagle is an example of when difficult terrain provides the potential for a spectacular result. The potential of this patch of land was certainly realised by Tom Doak.



Gunnamatta Course – St Andrews Beach – Australia

St Andrews Beach

The Gunnamatta Course opened in 2004 and was in instant hit with many people claiming it to be equal if not better than the stunning Barnbougle Links course Tom Doak had already laid down in Australia.

Measuring a little more than 6,500 yards the Gunnamatta Course isn’t the longest around but the meagre par of 70, tricky greens and a couple of the toughest holes in Australia ensure a solid test is still there for all who play this great golf course.

Long hitters can grip it and rip it thanks to generous fairways and the less than penal rough but it is around the greens and on a couple of holes in particular where you will make and break your score.  There are a number of short par fours that will tempt the long hitters into reaching for the big stick but trouble lies in wait for the really errant tee shots. Two holes will separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. The par 4 13th is the longest par 4 in Australia and the same goes for the par 3 16th. Par either of these holes and you should be in good stead for the rest of the round.



Old MacDonald at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort – USA

Bandon Dunes Old MacDonald

Bandon Dunes was already generally accepted as one of the best modern golf resorts in the world and then along came the stunning new Old MacDonald Course to further enhance its reputation. Opened in 2010 the Old MacDonald course is very different from its sibling Pacific Dunes Course. The course begins inland and then over the dunes to reveal amazing views of the Pacific Ocean before turning back inland for the final few holes.

You don’t have to drive the ball particularly straight as the fairways are often up to 80 yards wide and the greens are equally proportioned. Don’t be fooled by the ease at which you may be able to hit the greens though as less than adequate approach shots can easily leave you in three-putt territory. The course is also protected by well placed bunkers and great swathes of yellow heather that immediately reminds the clued up golfer of the great links courses in Scotland.