New Release: Tom Doak’s Little Red Book of Golf Course Architecture

Besides being one of the busiest and most innovative architects in golf, Tom Doak is also one of the game’s most prolific writers. He’s currently working on number four of the five-volume, updated “Confidential Guide to Golf Courses” (on Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific, it will be published in Fall, 2018), he regularly writes magazine articles, and he’s about to publish yet another book, this one a compilation of his posts to Golf Club Atlas, a website devoted to course architecture.

It’s called Tom Doak’s Little Red Book of Golf Course Architecture, and while some devotees have compared it to Harvey Penick’s slender tomes of roughly the same name, it’s probably more accurate to think Mao Tse-tung, whose “little red book” helped ignite a revolution. Doak’s thoughts—some revolutionary, all thought-provoking—will be available as of June 1 for $25 plus shipping, and can be ordered from his website,

Anyone who has followed Doak knows that he is not shy about offering opinions on course architecture, which is what makes this new collection so enjoyable and educational. Rather than singing its praises, we’ll let Tom do his own marketing with a few excerpts:

“It’s not unusual that some of the deepest thinkers about golf architecture have played relatively few courses … others are so busy putting new notches in their belts that they never have time to think.

I am starting to think that the best hazard around a green is a mound at the edge (or even partially in the green) that requires you to play over it, but I am having a hard time reconciling that with the goal of making courses look natural.

We don’t wish the good player ill, but we don’t want him to overstate his case.

The good thing about higher handicappers is that they don’t all assume that everything should be designed around THEIR game, as low handicappers do.

The management of TPC courses is convinced that customers are going there for the “TOUR experience”—a difficult set- up, fast greens, thick rough, etc. All of which leads to another outcome of the TOUR experience—boring, dead slow golf.

Any truly great course would still be a great course if they slashed the maintenance budget in half.

I don’t visualize a complete golf course at the start; I visualize how it’s going to work. It evolves as we build. It just gets better & better.”