Fifteen years ago this week—Thanksgiving, 2003—I spent a week in New Zealand and Australia with Tom Doak to write a profile of the course designer. This is the story that resulted. It’s interesting now to re-read it, the courses he was building then that are now acclaimed, others that never got off the drawing board, and his generally outspoken attitude to the world of golf course architecture.
Thumbing through his dog-eared diary, Tom Doak is trying to figure out where the year went. Ireland. Texas. Scotland. Georgia. Australia. New York. Hardly a week seems to have passed without a lengthy business trip, and just about any trip is lengthy if you live in Traverse City, Michigan. “I tell my son I travel for a living and design golf courses as a hobby,” he says.
Though just 43 years old, Doak has been a familiar figure in golf-architecture circles for 20 years. And since mentions of his name haven’t always been charitable, he would like you to know that he isn’t the jerk some people think he is.
Only in the city that promoted Mayweather-McGregor as a fair fight and Liberace as a sex symbol could Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson be considered rivals. “The Match” is fresh evidence that Las Vegas can distort any reality just long enough to separate a rube from his billfold.
The Ryder Cup had its share of weekend thrills for fans, but for players the drama began much earlier. Tuesday evening, to be exact. And not at Le Golf National but seven miles away at the Trianon Palace hotel, which was home to both the U.S. and European teams. That’s when officials from the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) arrived unannounced to conduct random drug tests.
The players had reason to be surprised. It was the first time drug tests were administered at a Ryder Cup. That it happened in Paris should be less surprising. The French take their anti-doping laws seriously. That’s why Lance Armstrong now owns as many Tour de France victories as Jack Nicklaus.
Scott Parel is a throwback to the early charm of the senior circuit, when guys who had spent a career in golf’s obscure precincts – a Dana Quigley, a Mark Johnson – could author improbable Cinderella stories amid the seasoned winners collecting their reliable annuities.
That contrast in accomplishments will again be apparent this week when the PGA Tour Champions wraps its season with the Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Phoenix Country Club. Parel goes to Arizona second in the season-long standings, trailing only a man with more than 100 professional wins and north of $40 million in career earnings.
Bernhard Langer’s two biggest victories came at Augusta National. Parel lives a couple of miles from the famed club, but his one-way road in professional golf ran out of town.
On Golf Channel’s Morning Drive I joined Gary Williams, Robert Damron and Geoff Shackelford for a panel discussion on whether the world No. 1 ranking has been diminished by so many players holding it in recent years.
Mark Hensby spent most of 2018 waiting for the year to be over.
An end of sorts finally came on Oct. 26, when his 12-month suspension from the PGA Tour expired, leaving a 47-year-old veteran unsure of how much game he has, where he will play and whether he’s even welcome.
You can learn a lot about how a president governs by watching his golf game. Bill Clinton, for example, had a reputation for cheating. George W. Bush rushed along, blind to the bigger picture. Gerald Ford was endearingly hapless. And then there’s President Donald J. Trump.
I played with him just once, on August 20, 2010, and it was quite an experience. At the time, I worked at Golf Magazine and had been invited to join the editor in chief and a corporate executive at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Back then, Trump was overly solicitous of golf media, eager to influence their course ranking lists to include his properties. The character I saw and heard over those few hours has since become a familiar part of public life.