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.
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 – now that’s called dedication to duty.
Golfers are treated to magnificent vistas from every part of the property as the round unfolds with fairways routed in an old-fashioned out and back style along the side of the lake. The first two holes tumble towards the water then holes 3 to 16 are strung out along the lower portion of the property before returning to the clubhouse.
Because the architect chose the absolute best eighteen locations for each hole, the flow of the course is a little disjointed in places with long walks between some greens and the next tee but that’s a minor criticism of one of the most natural-looking layouts to emerge from North America in recent years.
Tim nominated Sutton Bay as Gem and the course was added to the Top 100 website in January 2008. Tim’s original comments are as follows: “Sutton Bay should be more than a worthy contender for Your Gems. It should easily be in the Top 100 courses in the World. I have played a few of the courses on that list and Sutton Bay would beat any of them EASILY. I went with a friend and his dad, who has played Sand Hills in Mullen, NE and he said that he prefers Sutton Bay.”