Doak to build reversible course in Michigan

Tom Doak is planning a reversible course for Forest Dunes Golf Club in Roscommon, Mich.

Golf course architect Tom Doak, recognized as one of the top architects in the world, is set to begin work on a new course at Forest Dunes Golf Club in Roscommon, Mich.

Doak’s newest project will bring to life a concept that most legendary golf course architects can only dream of.

Doak and his Renaissance Golf Design team will build a reversible course – two distinct layouts using the same greens but playing clockwise one way and counter clockwise the other way.

“This is a concept I have thought about for 30 years,” Doak said. “You need the right site and the right client to understand the appeal of it. At Forest Dunes we have both.”

Lew Thompson, an Arkansas-based trucking magnate who is managing member of the partnership that owns and operates Forest Dunes Golf Club, said he wanted a second course that would keep golfers staying on the property an extra night or two after playing the club’s highly acclaimed Tom Weiskopf design, which is ranked No. 97 on the Golfweek's Best Modern Courses list.

“I told Tom when I first met him that if it’s just another golf course, it’s not going to do me or Forest Dunes any good,” Thompson said. “If you can wow me then we can build it. He wowed me.”

Said Doak: “The appeal of a reversible golf course is people will want to play it both ways. You’re getting two golf courses in one.”

The idea of a reversible course is not as unique as it sounds. Certain Scottish links, including The Old Course at St. Andrews, were played in reverse in the winter months to spread out the wear and tear of divots and ball-marks.

Architects Tom Simpson and Alister MacKenzie designed courses with a handful of reversible holes, but, as far as Doak is aware, there is no 18-hole course in the world today that is played in reverse on a regular basis.

Doak said the most difficult part of designing the reversible course is thinking about the greens. “They have to work in both directions. You can’t have severe greens.

“You just have to think about all of it at the same time,” Doak said, joking about the headaches such concentration could trigger.

“Crowned greens or ones that fall away can work, as can tiered greens that go side to side,” Doak said.

Doak said he plans to begin shaping holes in late September and, depending on weather, he expects to have three to six holes ready for irrigation before winter.

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