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Doak Project at Rosapenna

05 February, 2007

Doak Project at Rosapenna

Renaissance golf architect Tom Doak has fast become one of the leading golf course architects in the World. Only eight courses built in the last 50 years are ranked inside the World’s Top 50 and Tom Doak designed three of them.

Tom has now been entrusted by Rosapenna to further enhance the two world class links on the shores of Sheephaven Bay.

In phase one of the project which began this week Tom will reconstruct a number of the green sites on the Strand nine as well as adding greenside and fairway bunkering and new teeing areas to form a seamless connection with the already world renowned Old Tom Morris Valley holes.

Tom first visited Rosapenna while he was studying the Great Links Courses of Great Britain and Ireland in 1981 and included his review of the Old Tom Morris Links in this book entitled The Confidential Guide to Golf. This guide features Doak's reviews of more than 800 courses on six continents, aimed at helping the reader decide what courses are worth spending his money to play. The fact that some reviews were negative stirred much controversy when the book was released, but the honesty of the reviews made it highly prized; in 2004 it was named as one of the 25 best books on golf by Travel & Leisure Golf. The Confidential Guide is now out of print, but 12,000 copies were sold, and used copies are occasionally found on eBay and other web sites.

Phase two of the project is scheduled to begin in October of 2007; this will involve further enhancing the playability of the Sandy Hills Links as well as improving the overall experience of this magnificent links which is already ranked within Ireland’s Top 20 courses and 75th in the British Isles. This phase includes the widening of landing areas, strategic placement of fairway and green side bunkers and also the re-shaping of a small number of green sites.

Doak has previously worked on dune land, most recent was the links he built at Barnbougle Dunes in Tasmania, Australia ranked 49th in the World.

His most noted course is a links in Pacific Dunes at the Bandon Dunes Resort in Oregan. Ranked number 14 in the United States and 23rd in the world this seaside links is a perfect example of minimalist architecture. On Golf Digest's 10 point scale (1 being Unacceptable, 5 being Good, 10 being Absolutely Perfect), Pacific Dunes was rated a 9.3!

Every great golf architect has taken the time to study the great links of the British Isles, upon which the game evolved. Thanks to a scholarship from Cornell University, Tom got to live on the links -- caddying at St. Andrews the summer after his graduation, then spending the next seven months playing and studying every course of note including the original Old Tom Morris layout at Rosapenna.

In that year abroad, Tom discovered a challenging, natural outdoor sport played by all ages, on exciting courses which had cost nothing to build and which were affordable for all to play. Ever since he’s felt a responsibility to build courses which reflect the ideals of the game as the Scots still play it.

On returning to the states Tom worked under the great Pete Dye, one of the greatest golf course architects of all time before setting up his own design company, Renaissance Golf Design Inc.

Tom describes golf course architecture as an artist pursuit and believes it is crucial to give each course a character of its own whilst fiercely retaining the natural ambience of the site.


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