Doak to consult at Royal Melbourne


Sean Dudley

Royal Melbourne Golf Club, regularly named as one of the world's top ten courses, has appointed American designer Tom Doak as its consulting architect.

Doak replaces British architect Martin Hawtree, who has served RMGC since 2003, leading a number of alteration projects, principally concerned with safety and the club’s boundaries.

Co-author of a biography of RMGC designer Dr Alister MacKenzie, Doak and his Renaissance Golf Design team also supervised the restoration of the Pasatiempo golf course in California, as well as creating acclaimed Australian courses St Andrews Beach and Barnbougle Dunes.

A club communication indicated that “the number of upcoming projects is minimal”, so it remains to be seen whether Doak’s appointment is by way of a watching brief, or whether the club and its new architect have something else in mind.

“It is an honour to be named as consultant to Royal Melbourne,” Doak told GCA. “I first went there twenty-three years ago. I played all 36 holes on my 27th birthday – and I have returned many times since then, to remind myself what golf architecture is all about.

“There are no immediate plans to ‘do’ anything to the golf course, and certainly not prior to the upcoming President's Cup. The club has just completed major renovation work to get the composite course back into prime condition, after suffering through several years of drought, and I am sure the membership would prefer to enjoy the course again in fine condition, instead of dodging around bits of construction any time soon. 

“I love the two golf courses every bit as much as the members do, and I have no desire to insert anything of my own into the design. But, there is always the question of how a club will respond to the pressures placed on its limited acreage by modern golf equipment, and Royal Melbourne is not immune to that challenge. In the end, the best response may be to stand pat and not worry about it, instead of making changes to the course, but the club needs a sounding board for such concerns, and we are happy to help.”