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Tom Doak Design Coming to Georgia


For the first time in his relatively short but storied design career, Tom Doak is crafting a new 18-hole golf course in Georgia. The 42-year-old, Michigan-based architect has been hired to design a private, equity golf club on the shores of Lake Oconee in Putnam County, located equidistant between Atlanta and Augusta.

The salubriously-named Harmony Club will be a par-70 layout that will stretch more than 7,000 yards from the tips. Set on more than 250 acres of forest and open pastureland, the Harmony Club will reflect Doak’s signature “minimalist” vision for a golf course. The layout will be a throwback of sorts, with no fairway-side homes or roadways breaking up the holes. It will be readily walkable, with a character and style reminiscent of golf’s “Golden Era” of the 1920s.

Beside the golf course, the project involves a clubhouse and practice facility. Also planned are overnight accommodations for members and their guests. These billets will be within period reproductions of antebellum country estate structures, and be set well apart from the golf course.

The Harmony Club is being developed by a group of investors led by Kent Hassell. The club will offer only 275 regular memberships, with a limited number of national, corporate and junior members also available. Pre-construction membership deposits are priced at $30,000; work on the course will begin after 100 membership deposits have been taken.

As Doak told the Greensboro (Ga.) Herald-Journal, “We (his design firm, appropriately called Renaissance Golf, Inc.) haven’t built many golf courses in the Southeast yet, and nothing with a lakefront setting like what exists at Harmony. But we have been lucky enough to work on several projects which are pure golf courses without other distractions – from Stonewall and Lost Dunes in the private sector, to Pacific Dunes and Cape Kindappers on the resort side – and that’s why we were so interested to work here.

“Everyone involved with the project understands what a difference it makes to be focused on the golf experience first, and how important it is to keep everything else from being a distraction.”

“The lure of country retreat golf, with overnight accommodations, has attracted members into exclusive private clubs in many other parts of the country,” Hassell told the Greensboro Herald-Journal. “We feel the time has come for a truly private club here at Lake Oconee. Our goal is to put a great golf course on the ground, build a cozy clubhouse and fill it with terrific people.

“This area has already given birth to a number of quality golf courses designed by some of the best architects in the business,” Hassell went on. “The Lake Oconee area is now getting closer to becoming what some visionaries have predicted – the ‘Pinehurst of Georgia.’ Two courses have been ranked among the top 100 courses in the country. But to date, all the courses at Lake Oconee are open to resort play.”

The Harmony Club’s layout will boast five holes along Lake Oconee, Georgia’s second largest lake. Views of the lake will also be available from several other holes. “The focus of the golf course will obviously be the lakefront,” said Doak, whose Pacific Dunes is ranked among the nation’s top-five courses by most major golf publications. “While the lakefront property is outstanding, the golf course would not succeed as a great one unless the wooded sections south of the clubhouse were also compelling.

“We believe they will be,” Doak continued. “The starting holes are laid out across fairly gentle slopes, but a natural creek bed comes into play on four of the first five holes. After the turn, the (existing) pond provides a good setting for a couple of golf holes, and then the holes work their way up to the top of the property for a dramatic run back to the lake from the 13th tee onward.”

Persons interested in learning more about the Harmony Club can call Hassell at 706/484-2050, or visit the club’s website at www.harmonyclubgolf.com.