Doak Discusses Latest Design

By: Jeff Shelley

Much-heralded architect Tom Doak arrived in Central Washington on Sunday morning, May 4, to inaugurate the opening of his latest course. The private Tumble Creek layout is located at Suncadia Resort in Roslyn. Doak flew in from Deer Lodge, Montana, where he’s working on an exclusive 18-hole course encompassing 450 acres within the private Rock Creek Cattle Club.

The Tumble Creek layout involves 150 feet of elevation change, with many of the holes offering vistas of the nearby Cascade Mountain Range. The holes wind through pines, woodlands and meadows, with streams and ponds entering play.

"We had no idea how great the views to the mountains would be until we started clearing out the fairways," said Doak of Tumble Creek. "But what we saw encouraged us to clear things out wider to open up the vistas. We even changed the routing a bit after the start of construction, moving the 16th green and 17th tee to take advantage of a prominent spot overlooking the river."

Tumble Creek is the second of three golf courses planned for Suncadia, a 6,300-acre resort community 80 miles east of Seattle. Residents and visitors can enjoy this four-season recreation area adjacent to the 2.2-million-acre Wenatchee National Forest. The Doak course joins the Arnold Palmer-designed Prospector, which opened in the summer of 2005. In spring 2007, Rope Rider, designed by Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy, will debut as the second resort course at Suncadia.

Construction on Tumble Creek began in September 2004. The layout will be Doak’s second in the Pacific Northwest, following the acclaimed Pacific Dunes at Bandon Golf Resort on Oregon’s Pacific coast. Because the Roslyn course was situated alongside the Cle Elum River, large native elk were a problem during construction, particularly during the first year.

The par-71 track stretches 6,928 yards from the back tees. It features relatively small greens, with each hole offering a different challenge. Tees, fairways and greens are all bent grass, while the rough is a mix of blue grass and fescue, an ideal combination for the local climate, which has four times as much sunshine as the Puget Sound region. There are water hazards on three holes and the bunkering is subtle, delivering a classic feel to the mountainside layout.

Though Tumble Creek is his first project in the nation’s upper-left-hand corner, Doak has some personal history in Washington state. As a 10-year-old, he remembers flying into Seattle with his father, a commodities buyer for Lever Brothers in New York. Though he came here for golf outings, he couldn’t recall the courses he played. But he clearly recalls flying into Sea-Tac Airport and being awestruck by “Mounts Rainier, St. Helens, Adams and Hood all lined up in a row.”

Doak said the backers of Suncadia, Jeld-Wen, Inc. and Lowe Enterprises, reserved 2,600 acres for the Tumble Creek section of the development. He could have had choices to design the course in other areas of the site, but said, “I made my land decisions on access and the different types of holes that could be built.”

As for his design philosophy here, Doak said he didn’t do a lot of earthmoving. “I prefer moving dirt on only a few holes, not some dirt on all the holes.”

Tumble Creek will feature a clubhouse and a center for sporting, wellness and social activities.

Besides golf, Suncadia boasts more than 40 miles of hiking and biking trails, fishing and horseback riding during the warmer months, with cross-country and downhill skiing, snow shoeing and snowmobiling in the winter. A sports complex contains a climbing wall, aerobic and strength fitness facilities, strength and flexibility activities, an indoor pool and an outdoor mega-pool with water slide and amphitheater.

Construction on Suncadia, Washington’s first all-season destination resort, began in 2002. Once completed, it will include a village with shops, galleries and restaurants, and a lodge located on a bluff 250 feet above the Cle Elum River; a conference center; and condominiums, town homes, cabins and custom homes.

For more information about Tumble Creek and Suncadia, call 800/667-1828 or visit