Tom Doak on Royal Melbourne, Alister MacKenzie and the best winter golf destination in the world

By Brandon TuckerNovember 13, 2011, 8:45 pm

Earlier this year, Tom Doak was appointed as a consulting architect to President's Cup host Royal Melbourne, where he will help oversee updates to the famed Alister MacKenzie design.

Golf course architect Tom Doak has high praise for Melbourne, the host city of this week's President's Cup in Australia.

'Between November and March,' said Doak. 'When the courses in the northeastern U.S. are closed and the links of the UK are pretty raw, Melbourne is the best golf destination in the world.' 

Royal Melbourne highlights one of the world's most concentrated areas of great courses, which also includes Victoria, Woodlands, Kingston HeathYarra Yarra and Commonwealth.  

'They're all within 10 miles of each other and all of them are world class,' said Doak.

Doak will be watching this week's President's Cup action Down Under with an especially keen eye. Earlier this year, he was appointed as consulting architect to Royal Melbourne, the 36-hole Alister MacKenzie-designed courses (The club's Composite Course, which is used for the President's Cup and other top events, features 12 holes from the West Course and six from the East Course). In December, the club will get to work re-grassing the remaining holes not used on the Composite Course. 

Royal Melbourne and the President's Cup: What to watch

Doak's knowledge of MacKenzie's portfolio includes his book, 'The Life and Work of Dr. Alister MacKenzie.' He has also helped restore such MacKenzie courses as Pasatiempo Golf Club in California.

As for how Royal Melbourne will challenge President's Cup matches, Doak says the severity of the greens on the Composite Course will punish players who miss in the wrong spots.

'They're not as severe as Augusta National,' said Doak. 'But there is nothing to stop the ball from getting away from you on the far side of the hole if you are above the hole, not even a fringe cut to keep your ball out of the bunker.

'My guess is you'll see some short shots that make the players look foolish, but it's all because they are out of position and playing past the pin on a downslope.'

Doak says the most notable difference to MacKenzie's effort here compared to his collection of U.S. designs is largely climate-related. On the southern coast of Australia, Melbourne has a rare mix of bermuda grass and sandy soil. The soil is also a reason why golf courses in Melbourne tend to feature steep, bunker lips.

'Fairways are wide at Royal Melbourne,' said Doak. 'Much like courses in the 1920s were in the northern U.S. until costs got in the way, which caused the fairways at many courses to narrow. The dry climate also enables Royal Melbourne to maintain short grass around the greens and have the balls scoot away from greens into trouble.'

While stakes will be high on the back nine, Doak says some of the course's finest holes come right away.

'Those first five holes of the Composite Course (Nos. 3-7 of the West Course), are all terrific holes, which will start off the matches with a bang,' said Doak. 'Tune in early!'

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: