Golf Course Architecture - Issue 70, October 2022

and sculpture by remote control doesn’t appeal to me.” Doak’s unusual ‘semi-detached’ role in Zac Blair’s Tree Farm project in South Carolina has also been an opportunity to test new methods of working. Blair hired Doak to provide a routing for the Tree Farm course, while working with Kye Goalby actually to build the course. “I had an arrangement that I would do the routing and visit once, but leave Zac and the associate to get on with the rest of it,” he says. “I’m curious to see how I feel about it when it is done.” It is, of course, Doak’s clients who will have the final say over whether any new construction model works or doesn’t. Will clients object if they start seeing less of the boss? “I haven’t really talked about it with my clients – they know that, when push comes to shove, I will be there,” he says. “If I’m really busy and can’t be there so much, they won’t be paying so much. If I get pushback, I will tell them firstly ‘I told you upfront this is how we work’ and secondly ‘I really trust these guys I have been working with for many years’.” Doak has also stepped back from his consulting work at existing courses, something that has been part of his business since the start. Is he finally done with consulting? “Almost,” he says. “I’m still signed up to do whatever we’re going to do at Crooked Stick. I spent time there with Mr Dye, I know a couple of the members well and they really want me to. I never say never, but it’s really unlikely I would take on any more. “We are tremendously busy right now, but almost all our work is in the US. The one thing in the business I was unprepared for was that things are really booming in the US at the moment, and the big names from ten years ago – Palmer, Dye, Nicklaus – are gone, or basically gone. I’m signed up right now for way more than I can do. In the past, we have got really busy, and while we’ve been busy I’ve had no time to go meet prospective clients. I’m focusing all my energy on the things I like to do most. The advantage of technology is that it means I don’t have to make such frequent trips to conform to the construction schedule; I can go and build holes when it suits the rest of my schedule, and have confidence that if anything gets blown away, there is the ability to put it back just like I last saw it. If you can’t live with ups and downs, this is a very tough business to be in.” GCA “ If you can’t live with ups and downs, this is a very tough business to be in” Photos: Ricky Robinson Doak oversaw shaping of Te Arai North during one long stay in New Zealand, with his team then looking after course construction, which is expected to be complete by January 2023 55