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Mike Clayton

Hero
Notable CoursesBadgeBarnbougle Dunes
Year of Birth1957
Year of Death
Place of BirthMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
Biography

Mike Clayton was a successful amateur player, winning his state championship in Victoria in 1977 then the Australian Amateur the following year (when he beat Tony Gresham 1-up in the Final match at Royal Queensland), before turning professional at the age of twenty-four in 1981.

He claimed the first of nine world-wide titles in his second season as a pro when he won the Victorian Open at Metropolitan and he also represented Australia at the 1982 World Cup in Mexico the same year (he also featured in the national 2-man team for that event in Puerto Rico in 1994).

His best placing on the Australian Order of Merit was in 1994 when the finished 4th and he never lost his playing status on the professional circuit until he reached the age of 50 and became eligible for the Australian Legends Tour.

Playing on Melbourne’s sand belt courses as a young man sparked an early interest in golf course architecture for Clayton so it was really just a natural progression for him to form his own design practice in the latter stages of his playing career, founding Michael Clayton Golf Design in 1995 with John Sloan and Bruce Grant.

“I was always interested in golf course architecture, so I read all the books and wrote a little about it for the newspapers,” says Mike. “But I never thought about getting into the business until John and Bruce rang me out of the blue and asked me if I was interested in starting the business.”

The company’s first projects involved redesigning courses such as Portsea and Peninsula, and restoring the layout at Victoria, where Mike has now been consulting for two decades; restoring bunkers, reducing the influence of trees and replacing areas of rough with either short grass or uncovering the native sandy ground.

Into the new millennium and Mike teamed up with Michael Cocking and Ashley Mead to continue renovating other classic Australian courses like Commonwealth, Lake Karrinyup, Royal Canberra and The Lakes.

The design team was joined by former US Open Champion Geoff Ogilvy in 2010, with the firm renamed Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking and Mead, or OCCM for short. According to the company website, its aim was to “make the journey to the hole a more interesting one for the golfer. The contour of a green, the position of hazards, and the shape and slope of the fairway can all be used to create holes that make the golfer think.”

Mike has been busy with redesign, renovation and restoration projects for more than twenty years now as new build assignments in Australia have been very few and far between. Indeed, his only solo design from scratch has been the course at Ranfurlie, to the south east of Melbourne, in 2002.

Shortly after this, he did, of course, co-design the Barnbougle Dunes layout near Bridport in Tasmania and the St Andrews Beach course on the Mornington Peninsula with Tom Doak, and those two fabulous golfing tracks were the ones to first gain Mike Clayton international recognition as an architect.

In more recent times, OCCM undertook a major three-phase overhaul of the course at Bonnie Doon in Sydney and both the South and North course at Peninsula Kingswood in Frankston underwent substantial upgrading by the company.

OCCM spread its wings in 2017 when it was commissioned to redesign the former Links course at Lanhai International Country Club in Shanghai, fashioning the new Yangtze Dunes layout over a lengthy period of time.

On the recommendation of Bill Coore, they were also appointed to redesign the course at Ben Hogan’s old home club at Shady Oaks in Texas. The Little 9 layout where Hogan used to practice was updated in 2017, with work on the main course carried out two years later.

In a surprise move, Mike left OCCM at the end of 2019 to form a new alliance across three continents with Mike DeVries and Frank Pont, working from a central base in London. Mike’s plans were then to spend part of his time based in England for the foreseeable future.

Extracts:

Graylyn Loomis writing in Links Magazine: "A former European and Australasian Tour player (nine pro wins), Clayton was always curious about design but never thought it would become his job. However, in 1995 he saw an aerial photo of Victoria Golf Club and offered the club his opinion on how to restore what he called the “amazing bunkering.” The rest is history and, 21 years later, he remains Victoria’s consulting architect."

Bibliography:

Preferred Lies: And Other True Golf Stories by Mike Clayton and Charles Happell (2019)

Notable Courses

01
Barnbougle Dunes

Barnbougle Dunes

Bridport, Tasmania

02
Bonnie Doon

Bonnie Doon

Pagewood, New South Wales

03
Curlewis

Curlewis

Curlewis, Victoria

04
Grange (West)

Grange (West)

Grange, South Australia

05
Lake Karrinyup (Championship)

Lake Karrinyup (Championship)

Karrinyup, Western Australia

06
Peninsula Kingswood (North)

Peninsula Kingswood (North)

Frankston, Victoria

07
Peninsula Kingswood (South)

Peninsula Kingswood (South)

Frankston, Victoria

08
Port Fairy

Port Fairy

Port Fairy, Victoria

09
RACV Healesville

RACV Healesville

Healesville, Victoria

10
RACV Torquay

RACV Torquay

Torquay, Victoria

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