Golf Course Architecture - Issue 70, October 2022

“I only made two big trips in 2020, one in the summer, one in the fall. When the pandemic hit, we were in the middle of St Patrick’s, but luckily I had been there to see almost all the greens shaped the previous year. The only problem with our existing model is that the amount of travel it requires limits how many projects I can do,” he says. “MacKenzie got away with going to Australia once, leaving plans, because it took him six weeks to get there. But when we have done projects a long way from home in the past, we have resourced them in broadly the same way as our US courses – with associates in full-time attendance and me there regularly. The change – which I haven’t completely finalised yet – was a reaction to Te Arai and also to the way we used technology to do Lido.” Doak’s team is currently wrapping up the Te Arai project near to his existing Tara Iti course in New Zealand’s North Island, and that has been the main test bed for his new travel plans. Rather than making several short trips to Te Arai, with the aim of approving three or four holes on each trip, he has only had one, longer stay in New Zealand. “For Te Arai, we shaped everything while I was there,” he says. “I even had time to shape a couple of greens myself! I really enjoy doing that, but it’s never made sense for me for the last twentyfive years because I have guys around me who do it quicker. In the States, it doesn’t make sense to go for a month or two, but I do think it worked in New Zealand – where I spent fifty days as opposed to the thirty I would normally. There was no time pressure to get four holes done this week before I leave, so you could put something off for a while if you didn’t like how it was turning out. My wife was with me and I had some days off. “Having the time to get on the bulldozer myself didn’t make the project worse. I had time to do all the things I wanted to do, and I’m very confident that when I do go back I won’t get any unpleasant surprises or have too much to do.” As far as the Lido project is concerned, the plan of the course had been painstakingly assembled on computer by enthusiast Peter Flory. As the idea of the project is to replicate the course in its entirety, much of the shaping work has been done using GPS-enabled bulldozers. In normal circumstances this would be anathema to Doak – “I told Jim Urbina twenty-five years ago that if I ever try to approve something by digital photo, he had permission to shoot me,” he says – but this case is different. He’s still adamantly opposed to approving shaping from long distance, saying: “My big thing is the greens. I still want to see them get shaped. Two inches matters, and you’re not going to see that on a construction photo from far away. That part of the creation is sculpture, INTERV I EW 54