Top 5 “Public” Golf Courses by Tom Doak

With the world renowned Pacific Dunes and Barnbougle among his credits, American golf course architect Tom Doak is one of the most sought-after designers in the business. A former pupil of legendary architect Pete Dye, Doak has gained worldwide respect for his natural, minimalist style. His company, Renaissance Golf Design, is one of the world’s leading architectural firms. 

All Square reviews five of his greatest designs.

The Renaissance Club

The renaissance

This was Doak’s first design opportunity in Scotland – and he made the most of it. The course is considered a masterpiece of modern links design and a worthy rival to its legendary neighbour, Muirfield. Doak carved out 18 compelling holes from 300 acres of pine forest, and five years later acquired more land to extend the course closer to the coastline, which made the layout even better. Some trees were retained in the design as strategic fairway and greenside obstacles, adding intrigue and aesthetic appeal. The par 4 10th is a highlight, with its tilted green sitting along the edge of the cliffs overlooking the beautiful Firth of Forth. The course hosted The Scottish Open in 2019.

Pacific Dunes – Bandon Dunes Resort

Bandon Dunes

Rated as the world’s 18th best course by All Square, Doak’s links course blends seamlessly into its seaside surroundings on the coast of Oregon. It’s one of four courses at Bandon Dunes, and this is widely considered the best. The course is challenging mostly because of the large, strategic bunkers and even more so when the wind blows in off the Pacific. The holes weave in and out of dunes and the fairways have retained their natural undulations. The 11th with its tee perched high on a cliff looking down towards a tiny green nestled in fescue grass is a highlight. The course opened to great acclaim in 2001, and it feels like a natural gem was found rather than built. 

Grand Saint Emilionnais Golf Club

Saint Emillionais

Rated as the 16th best course in France by All Square, Doak’s first design in continental Europe is respectfully draped across beautiful countryside close to the vineyards of Bordeaux. Doak, in typical minimalist and natural style, routed the holes in a simple out and back fashion, giving players views of the whole course and the local vineyards. The par 3 9th is a memorable hole with its green sitting behind a lake. Make sure to take in the superb panoramic views across this stunning course while you relax by the clubhouse with a local wine after your round.

Tara Iti Golf Club

Tara Iti

This Doak designed links course is situated 100 km north of Auckland on the dramatic east coast of the North Island. Despite opening as recently as 2015, it has already been called New Zealand’s best course. It’s a beautiful golfing oasis with an ocean backdrop and spectacular mountains looming in the distance. There are no trees, water hazards, penal rough or bunkers, instead the fescue grassed fairways have large sandy waste areas where you can ground your club – and a wide range of knolls, dunes and punchbowls test every aspect of a golfer’s game. Memorable holes include the 445-yard 3rd, which plays blind to a punchbowl green, the short par 4 13th with its green at the highest point of the course, and the par 5 18th where the fairway splits to offer multiple routes to the closing hole. 

Barnbougle Golf Club – The Dunes

barnbougle golf course

This stunning course in Tasmania is the closet you’ll find to a traditional seaside links in Australia. It’s a layout that could grace the shores of Ireland or Scotland. Doak routed the holes through dunes, some as high as 100 feet, and the fairways have retained their natural contours. On many holes, the quirky greens are surrounded by hollows and chipping areas rater than the usual sand. The clubhouse sits in the middle of the course, hugged by two loops of nine holes, which prevents any long stretch of holes into or down wind. Perhaps the best hole is the 15th, a splendid par 4 along an inlet next to a dune ridge. The closing holes, played along the beach, will last long in the memory.

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Franz Walter Thesing
Franz Walter Thesing
4 years ago

played „lost farm“ the other 20 ! hole course of Barnbougle in 2015 and was already a highlight

Erlend Malfait
Erlend Malfait
4 years ago

Played all of them. Big fan of TD!

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