Tom Doak’s And Jim Urbina’s Restoration Of Pasatiempo

The Pasatiempo restoration effort began in the early 1990’s, when Pasatiempo club historian Robert Beck uncovered a trove of old and decaying slides, many by famed photographer Julian Graham, that showed details of both Cypress Point Golf course (another MacKenzie design located an hour south of Pasatiempo) and Pasatiempo Golf Club not seen in decades. These images spurred the club to take on the challenge of restoring MacKenzie’s home course, and after a long and thorough search, settled on Renaissance Golf and its founder, Tom Doak, to lead the effort.

At the time he was hired to take on the Pasatiempo restoration in 1996, Tom Doak had not yet achieved the fame that he enjoys today as one of the world’s top golf architects. His first book, the highly acclaimed 

Confidential Guide to Golf Courses, had just been released, and he had designed a number of courses including High Pointe Golf Club in Williamsburg, MI and the Legends Heathlandin Myrtle Beach, SC.

A longtime admirer of MacKenzie and co-author of The Life and Work of Dr. Alister MacKenzie, Doak was the perfect choice for the job. While working on the Pasatiempo restoration, Doak and his team were also responsible for the design of some of the world’s finest courses—including four courses widely recognized as among the “Top 100 in the World”: Pacific Dunes, Barnbougle Dunes, Cape Kidnappers and Ballyneal. Doak always recognized the importance of the Pasatiempo restoration project and spent many days on site directly overseeing the work with his lead associate Jim Urbina. From Doak’s master restoration plan:

“Before we dare make any suggestion on the design of Pasatiempo we must first recognize that it is a special place with a unique history. Pasatiempo is ranked among the 100 Greatest Courses in America, but its significance outweighs even that lofty status. Whereas MacKenzie never saw the finished versions of Augusta National, Royal Melbourne, or Crystal Downs, he lived the last four years of his life at Pasatiempo. Nor can the contribution of Pasatiempo’s founder, Miss Marion Hollins, (and a champion golfer herself) be understated, having his respect and attention as a keen observer of golf course design.”
“With a course of such historic significance and recognized quality of design, our mission in formulating a master plan is simple: to preserve the MacKenzie legacy as well as possible, considering the modern realities of golf. Our guiding principles have been, first, to add nothing foreign to the original design, and, second, to enhance the ‘pleasurable excitement’ that the architect sought to provide.”

The restoration work was completed in the fall of 2007. Of the restoration, Doak said that,

“The restoration project was unusual in that we did the work over a period of years in order to keep the course in play throughout. We had the challenge of working with several green committees through the process, but their vision was always clear and consistent — to restore MacKenzie's design as closely as possible. Moreover, I would like to thank the three men who were a part of the project from beginning to end — club historian Bob Beck, who kept digging throughout the project for more photos to help us get things right; superintendent Dean Gump, who kept us organized and got us whatever we needed; and my lead associate Jim Urbina, who managed to keep finding time to get back to Pasatiempo in between building some great new courses for us. Dr. MacKenzie would be proud of them all.”

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