Q&A: Tom Doak, Architect talks about his course at Cabot Highlands, Scotland. Modern design and more are some of the topics covered.

Nov, 2022

What happens when 150 acres of prime waterfront land is given to Tom Doak, an American golf architect? Doak is not sure.

Cabot, a rapidly growing Canadian company that began with Cabot Links in Nova Scotia and Cabot Cliffs elsewhere in Canada, is betting Doak’s work will be worth a trip overseas for golfers.

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Cabot purchased Castle Stuart Golf Links, its 18-hole layout, near Inverness in Scotland, in June. There are plans to develop a second course as well as luxury cabins, just minutes from Inverness’ airport. Cabot Highlands has taken over the property. Cabot’s CEO, Ben Cowan Dewar, hired Doak as his second 18-footer. He plans to break ground in 2023, and then a soft opening in 2024.

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Doak laughed as he told a group of Canadian and American golf writers that “we’ve got to get routing done first,” during their October meeting at Castle Stuart.

Cabot has experienced rapid growth in recent years. Cabot Links was launched in 2012 in Nova Scotia. This Rod Whitman design ranks No. 2 on Golfweek’s Best List of Modern Canadian Courses. Cabot Cliffs joined the course in 2015. It is a Bill Coore-designed course that ranks No. This modern Canadian list ranks No. 1.

The Caribbean’s will open in 2023. It is a Coore & Crenshaw design located at Cabot St. Lucia. The company also announced the opening of Cabot Revelstoke, British Columbia in Canada last year. This facility will be designed by Whitman and is expected to open in 2024. Cabot also purchased the former World Woods in Florida and rebranded it Citrus farms. The two courses will be renovated and reopened in 2023.

Doak will be working with Cowan-Dewar for the second Cabot Highlands course. However, Doak is a respected designer of his time. Doak’s course credits include 12 courses on Golfweek’s Best list, which includes four courses in the top 10. Five of the 50 Golfweek’s Best Modern International Courses were also compiled by him.

Mark Parsinen and Gil Hanse designed the original 18 at Castle Stuart, Scotland. It is now called Cabot Highlands. (Golfweek)

Doak first met the few writers at Cabot Highlands’ clubhouse. Then, Doak led the group through some of the properties where the new course will be built. It is a beautiful spot right next to the Moray Firth. This large bay is fed by a river that runs through Inverness and contains waters from Loch Ness.

The original Cabot Highlands 18 is built by Gil Hanse, Castle Stuart founder Mark Parsinen and sits high on cliffs overlooking Loch Moray Firth. It offers some of the most spectacular golf views in Scotland. This course was opened in 2009 and is ranked No. It is ranked No. 4 on Golfweek’s Top List of Modern Courses in Great Britain & Ireland. It hosted the Scottish Open four more times.

Doak’s parcel runs lower and extends from the clubhouse past the 400-year-old castle which gave the property its original title, and down a ridge towards the water. Doak’s team will likely move lots of earth to create interesting interior contours. This is similar to Castle Stuart’s original layout.

Doak stated that the new course will not be an out-and back routing, with nine holes going in one direction and nine coming in the other. However, it is likely to be similar with some redirections. Parsinen had originally intended to build a Arnold Palmer course on the site. However, those plans have since been abandoned.

Doak shared candidly the challenges, thrills and opportunities of building on the site in Scotland. Doak also shared details about his other projects and how he manages the high expectations of building on such beautiful sites. Below are excerpts from that conversation.


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