Tom Doak and Jim Urbina reinterpreting Charles Blair Macdonald, the father of American golf course architecture, on 400 acres of glorious Oregon linksland high above the Pacific? Regarding the most keenly anticipated new course of the year, this one’s a no-brainer. Especially when you consider that resort founder Mike Keiser, whose favorite course is the National Golf Links of America, Macdonald’s masterpiece in Southampton, N.Y., is on record as saying that he’s not employing Doak and Urbina as architects. “I’m employing them to design as C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor, his apprentice and successor, would build it if they were alive today.”
On the heels of his career-making design at Pacific Dunes, Bandon’s top-rated course, I am confident Doak and his team will exceed expectations at Old Macdonald, a walkers-only links slated to open this summer. Early photos show an expansive links studded with fearsome bunkers, tufted dunes and sprawling greens. At first glance, Old Mac looks like the Old Course at St. Andrews on oaties, kippers and steroids. Is young Tom Doak channeling Old Tom Morris, who himself schooled Macdonald in the game’s finer points in the 1870’s? Given Doak’s allegiance to Scottish links golf as the game’s wellspring, it would be a perfect continuum. Doak, for his part, says his goal “has been not to copy Macdonald’s great holes—any more than Macdonald would have settled for carbon copies of the Alps and Redan—but to borrow upon his inspiration and method for our fine piece of links ground.” Addressing N.G.L.A. in Chris Santella’s Fifty Places to Play Golf Before You Die, Doak says, “The holes he (Macdonald) created are not complete replicas—they’re adapted to the rolling terrain of the National. They go far beyond replication to stand on their own as timeless, classic holes.”
Will Old Macdonald turn out to be what Macdonald himself might have done 100 years afterward? We’ll never know. But I have a feeling Bandon’s fourth course will be a fescue-fringed time machine capable of delivering an unforgettably classic ride.
One of the clifftop holes at Old Macdonald