Tom Doak had the most high profile year and takes home this year’s award for some searing achievements in the most pressure filled jobs. He certainly rose to the occasion with Sebonack, Ballyneal and landing the new course at Bandon Dunes – due to open in 2010. Jim Engh gets the runner up nod and gives Dan Maples and Pete Dye runs for their money as the best “player-architects.”
Doak opened Sebonack in L.I. with the greatest fanfare. After all, it’s a team effort with the biggest name in the game – Jack Nicklaus and Sebonack does live up to its lofty billing. Sandwiched between legendary National Golf Links of America and Shinnecock Hills, Doak knew he had to deliver a course worthy of the fabled location and surpassed all hype and expectations. That’s Doak though – the poetic attention to detail leads to the ferocity of the design…or is that the ferocity of the attention to detail leads to the poetry of the design, I never can remember…
Perhaps Doak’s greatest achievement this year is his completely natural, surreal and authentic Ballyneal Golf and Hunt Club, which took home best new course honors. Ballyneal is the torrid lightning from the dynamo, a volcano of energy from hole 1 through 18. Its the most rugged of courses and strikes sparks in every direction with its shaggy, sandy dunescape and a variety of routing which is nothing short of wondrous. Doak completed the year by being named the architect for the new “Old Macdonald” Course at Bandon Dunes.
To quote Matt Damon in ocean’s Twelve, “I mean that’s a tri-fecta.” Or you hockey fans can call it a “hat trick,” whichever sports metaphor you prefer.
Meanwhile, Jim Engh finished up his private design at Reynolds Plantation, including a three-greened 18th, which I named Cerberus after the three-headed dog that guarded the gates to Hades in Greek Mythology. Jim recently fired a blistering 67 at Pradera – the course that won last year’s Best New Private award, sharing the honor with Mike Strantz’s redesign of the Monterey Peninsula Country Club Shore Course. Engh’s best round is a 65 which he carded at York Country Club.
Boy, can you guys say “Steelers-Patriots?” It was a heck of a heavyweight bout this year…
2005 Winner – Mike Strantz