Golf Course Architecture - Issue 56: April 2019

11 MA I L BOX Dear Editor I was just reading your piece [issue 55, page 40] that included Tom Doak’s Sedge Valley course. I first met Tom when he was the architecture writer for Golf magazine. I was a new PR guy from northern Michigan. I called Tom to visit. That was the start of our 32-year friendship. He was going to teach me more than I ever learned in university. A year later, he got his first commission, High Pointe, just four miles up the road. We spent a ton of time together. A few months into construction, I already was hooked on architecture, not that I understood it, but he sure liked my interest. He lived in a crappy farm house, right on property. Topo maps and his slide projector. We’d stay up late and he would pull out slides, one at a time and project them on a blank wall. The links courses of Scotland and Ireland, the great sandbelt courses of Australia and his fascination with the heathland courses of Great Britain. Again, I was intrigued with all the complexities of architecture. Plus, I’m a pure numbers guy and I was taking in the costs of construction, irrigation and even then, Tom was taking into account the cost to maintain the course. I never thought about it, but I learned quickly. That’s where all the money went. Spend too much and your business had no chance. All through construction, I just kept asking questions. The few things that stood out were the strategy for good players that most would never know and that golf was hard enough, architects paid no attention to fun. Over and over again, fun. That was 1986. Being a 22-plus index, with a 120mph-plus clubhead speed, that’s something I understood. I lost a fortune in balls and Tom hated golfers losing one. So the fairways were wide for us, but always much narrower if you were trying to make birdie. Not physically, but mentally. You had to be in the correct part of the fairway, usually challenging a single bunker. And not a shallow one either. About 15 years later, I had the idea for a book about architecture and Tom, written by a very well-known writer. When I mentioned it to Tom, in person, I got, one of his famous stares! I knew it was coming. He said, “If this ever gets done, I have the name: Golf is Supposed to be Fun.” He was dead serious. So my point is, along with doing brilliant routings, that are the main ingredient, to minimalistic golf design, fun has always been his goal. That’s why Sedge Valley is so important, to him and golf. Dave Richards Bloomfield Hills, Michigan We are delighted to receive letters from readers, and the best in each issue will be rewarded with a golf shirt. Send to 6 Friar Lane, Leicester, LE1 5RA, UK, or email us at A bit of a surprise to us, the last Gopher Watch . We had thought that sitting Sandy atop the famous Cape bunker at Royal North Devon, or Westward Ho!, would be a pretty easy one, and result in a flood of correct entries. Actually that wasn’t the case; we got plenty of entries, but most of them were wrong. Prestwick, another very old course with some iconic timber supported bunkers, was a popular choice, I guess not unreasonably. But the prize goes to Sean Berry, of Connecticut, USA, who identified the fourth hole on the legendary West Country links, home to JH Taylor among others. Congratulations Sean, a golf shirt is on the way. This month, another quite old and rather legendary English course. Maybe not one of the most famous holes on that course, but we think this is easy enough that no more help is required. Usual drill: first correct entry out of the hat wins one of our fabulous GCA golf shirts. Answers by email please, to . GOPHER WATCH