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Sutton Bay

Sutton Bay

Agar, South Dakota
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Patrick Koenig
01/09
Patrick Koenig
ArchitectBadgeGraham Marsh
Agar, South Dakota
Rankings
  • Address28950 Sutton Bay Trail, Agar, SD 57520, USA

Golf at Sutton Bay is just one sporting component in a vast private estate that’s also devoted to hunting and fishing and the 18 holes here sit on a spectacular cliff top overlooking Lake Oahe, formed when the Missouri River was dammed in the 1960s.

GalleryPatrick Koenig
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Patrick Koenig
01/09

Golf pro turned designer Graham Marsh has over 50 world-wide golf course projects to his name – most of them in his native Australia and Asia – and he brought a considerable breadth of experience to South Dakota when he first looked over the site for this course back in 1999.

It’s said that Marsh laid out most of the course without detailed drawings, preferring instead to remain on site for much of the 18-month construction period, overseeing the shaping of each hole. In 2003 the course opened for play.

"Incredibly, a few years after opening, the ground near the lake became unstable, and Graham Marsh's course started slipping down the shale ledge toward the lake," wrote Tom Doak in The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses. "After several attempts at repairs only to see them crumble again, the hard decision was made to build a brand-new course and abandon the old one. The new course [opened in 2013] is set atop the opposite rim to the clubhouse, with a good 10-15 minute drive, down into the basin, to get from one point to the other.

Sutton Bay Mark II is clearly on much more stable footing, and though it lacks the abundance of water views that the original enjoyed, it has a better flow and is more pleasantly walkable. The old course really felt like 18 signature holes connected by cart paths. In terms of the routing, the new course is arranged in two loops either side of a central comfort station. Holes nearest the edge of the canyon, like 17 and 18 enjoy the pick of the views, along with the short 5th at the far end of the course. As with Old Macdonald in Oregon, the views no longer come throughout the course, but they have greater impact when they do."

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Course Architect

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Graham Marsh

​Graham Marsh, nicknamed “Swampy,” was a fine cricketer as a young man and he trained as a maths teacher at Claremont Teachers College after graduating from the University of Western Australia.

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