Spring 2018

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38 SPRING 2018 | NCGA.ORG TRAVEL AMERICA: Tom Doak's Inside Scoop A cclaimed architect Tom Doak knows great golf. Four of Doak's courses — Pacific Dunes in Oregon, Ballyneal in Colorado, Barnbougle Dunes in Australia and Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand—are ranked within the Top 100 by Golf Magazine. The Michigan resident also recently released all- new editions of The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses, which include Volume 2 The Americas (winter destinations) and Volume 3 The Americas ( summer destinations). NCGA members can purchase all five volumes of the book with a 20% discount on As part of celebrating the Travel issue, the NCGA's Sam Staton asked Doak to give us his take on where to golf in 2018 and beyond. Q): What are five courses in the U.S. that are must-plays? Unfortunately, many of the must-play courses are private: Cypress Point, Pine Valley, and Sand Hills are the first that come to mind. In fact, I rated nine U.S. courses a "10" in The Confidential Guide, and only two are open to the public: Pinehurst No. 2 and Pacific Dunes (Pebble Beach was a 9). In addition to those, I'd name the best public-access courses by Dr. Alister MacKenzie (Pasatiempo GC in Santa Cruz) and by A.W. Tillinghast (Bethpage Black in New York). Q): What are two to three factors that you look for when evaluating a course? Mostly, what I'm looking for in evaluating a course is something that gives it a character of its own. There's no point in traveling to play a solid test of golf that ticks all the boxes; presumably, you could stay home and get that. For me, what makes a course special are a great set of greens, which define strategy all the way back to the tee, and a good mix of longer and shorter holes. The very best courses each have several great short par-4 holes; the majority of courses don't have any. Q): Where is a place/region in the U.S. that has great golf that people are overlooking? If you're looking for places where people can go, I'd say that Pinehurst has made great strides in the past 5-10 years. It used to be that everyone wanted to see Pinehurst No. 2, but the other courses were a waste of time; recently, Mid Pines and Pine Needles have been dramatically restored and now the Pinehurst Resort is working on their own stock. Plus there's Tobacco Road less than an hour away. Internationally, by far the most underrated destination for golf is England. Scotland and Ireland heavily promote their courses to overseas visitors; England doesn't at all, but there is a greater variety of courses there than you can find anywhere else in the world. Q): What are three courses in the U.S. that you feel are underrated by the traditional golf course ranking magazines? The focus on rankings nowadays means that people overlook the smaller courses. When I used to go to Monterey Peninsula, for example, my warm-up stop was always Pacific Grove Golf Links, with a great back nine out in the dunes surrounding a small lighthouse. It's never going to be ranked as a great one, but there are few more inspiring places to play. When traveling to see courses for Volume 3, I stumbled across the Davenport C.C. in Iowa, a C.H. Alison design that's just been restored. I think that's one of the finest courses in the U.S. that isn't ranked by any of the magazines. My own most-underrated course is Stone Eagle, set against the mountains in Palm Desert. It was a very rugged, hilly site, so it's difficult to walk, so it's underrated by fans of my work who love seaside, walkable courses. But it's a beautiful setting for golf and it's the only course in the desert that's unspoiled by development.

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