Tom Doak

- Published on this site: 21-10-2020 19:54:20

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Tom Doak is a golf course architect. He has 4 courses ranked among the top 100 in the world according to the "Top 100 Courses in the World" list compiled by Golf Magazine. These include Pacific Dunes in Oregon, Ballyneal in Colorado,[1] Barnbougle Dunes in Tasmania[2] and Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand. Doak lives in Michigan.

He was a student of golf course designer Pete Dye, although perhaps his greatest influence comes from Alister MacKenzie (whom Doak wrote a book about), designer of Cypress Point, Royal Melbourne, and consultant to Bobby Jones at Augusta National. In 2007, Doak restored Alister MacKenzie's home course, Pasatiempo, a Golf Magazine Top 100 course located in Santa Cruz, California.

Doak is the author of The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses which is a guide to famous and obscure golf courses around the world. The original version of the book was intended for a select group of friends and golf course architects. The sanitized version became a coffee table book which also included Doak's photography. Despite being toned down, the book includes several extremely critical reviews of golf courses and alienated several well-regarded golf course architects. For example, Doak's critique of Talamore Golf Club, in Pinehurst, designed by Rees Jones, made him "want to spit."


Doak attended Cornell University after a semester at MIT where he studied Design and Landscape Architecture.[3][4] After graduating Cornell, he won the Dreer Award from the Department of Floraculture and Horticulture. He used the Dreer Award to travel to Great Britain and Ireland, between 1982 and 1983, to study their best golf courses. He caddied at St. Andrews during the summer of 1982.


Doak is a "minimalist" designer. Minimalism is a school of golf design that focuses on concentrating design of a golf hole (or routing) around the natural features of the land. His most successful courses have been built on sand dunes, taking advantage of the sandy soil for drainage also allowing for the reuse of native elements.

Doak credits most of his accomplishments and success to golf course designer Pete Dye. Doak worked with Dye to learn how to construct golf courses during graduate school. Doak was exposed to several different schools of design on multiple continents in a variety of conditions. Jim Urbina taught him how to run a bulldozer allowing for Doak to think in three dimensions and how to use the materials around him.[5]

In 2015 he announced he would spend a significant amount of time during the ensuing few years, researching for a new edition of his book, The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses.[6]


Doak has written four books about Golf Course Design:

The Anatomy of a Golf Course [2] ISBN 978-1-58080-071-6 (1992).
The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses ISBN 978-1-886947-09-2 (1996)
The Life and Work of Dr. Alister MacKenzie [3] ISBN 978-1-58536-018-5 (2001) by Tom Doak, James S. Scott, Raymund M. Haddock, Ray Haddock, and James Scott
The Making of Pacific Dunes (yet to be published)


Public and resort courses

  • Aetna Springs Golf Club - Pope Valley, CA - Closed
  • Atlantic City Country Club - Northfield, NJ
  • Apache Stronghold Golf Club - Globe, AZ
  • Barnbougle Dunes Golf Links - Bridport, Tasmania, Australia
  • Beechtree Golf Club - Aberdeen, MD - Closed
  • Black Forest at Wilderness Valley - Gaylord, MI Closed
  • Cape Kidnappers Resort - Napier New Zealand
  • Charlotte Golf Links - Charlotte, North Carolina - Closed
  • Common Ground Golf Course - Aurora, Colorado
  • High Pointe Golf Club - Williamsburg, MI - Closed
  • Pacific Dunes, one of the courses at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort - Bandon, Oregon
  • The Golf Club at St. Andrew's Beach - Rye, Victoria, Australia
  • Old Macdonald, one of the courses at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort - Bandon, Oregon
  • Pasatiempo Golf Club (restoration) - Santa Cruz, CA
  • Quail Crossing Golf Club - Evansville, IN
  • Riverfront Golf Club - Suffolk, Virginia
  • The Legends Golf Club - Heathlands Course - Myrtle Beach, SC
  • The Rawls Course at Texas Tech University - Lubbock, TX [4]
  • Streamsong Golf Course Blue - Central FL
  • Groesbeck Golf Course, Lansing, MI
  • The Loop at Forest Dunes, Roscommon, MI (Reversible 18 hole golf course)
  • Memorial Park Golf Course - Houston, TX

Private courses

  • Ballyneal - Holyoke, CO
  • Dismal River - The Red Course - Mullen, NE
  • Lost Dunes Golf Club - Bridgman, MI
  • Rock Creek Cattle Company - Deer Lodge, MT
  • Sebonack Golf Club - Southampton, New York (with Jack Nicklaus)
  • Stone Eagle Golf Club - Palm Desert, CA
  • Stonewall - Old Course - Elverson, Pennsylvania
  • Stonewall - North Course - Elverson, Pennsylvania
  • Tara Iti - New Zealand
  • The Village Club - Sands Point, New York
  • Tumble Creek at Suncadia - Cle Elum, WA
  • The Renaissance Club - Lothians, Scotland

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