Doak to Design Course in Costa Rica

Tom Doak is flexing his golf-architecture muscles in another part of the world. In early November, AOL co-founder Steve Case announced he hired Doak's Renaissance Golf Design to be the architect for a new course in Costa Rica. Among others, the Traverse City, Mich.-based firm created the acclaimed Pacific Dunes in Oregon and Cape Kidnappers Golf Club in New Zealand for "Tiger Fund" founder Julian Robertson.

Both seaside courses are ranked among the world's top 100. With Jack Nicklaus, Doak also co-designed Sebonack - the new next-door neighbor of National Golf Links and Shinnecock Hills - in Southampton, N.Y., for former car-leasing giant Michael Pascucci.

Why is Doak so admired by such highly successful entrepreneurs? "I've been lucky to work around successful people for most of my life," Doak said. "All of my clients understand that I'm in business because I love to build great golf courses, not just to design lots of courses and make as much money as possible. I think they also appreciate that we treat them the same, whether they are a billionaire or a potato farmer from Tasmania - we keep close track of every detail of their project because we care about it as much as they do."

Case, chairman of Revolution LLC, and Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez, said Doak is crafting a course for a new 650-acre destination community called Cacique. The Costa Rica resort project is scheduled for a 2010 completion.

"The site for the course is across the road from the seaside part of the resort," Doak added. "It sits entirely within a steep jungle bowl of ridges and deep valleys, with the resort perched well above it on one side so that nothing intrudes on the golf experience. We'll certainly make the course walkable, even though the site is fairly steep and we anticipate that many golfers will take carts, or possibly caddies."

Doak and Case envision several innovative concepts for the course. "Cacique is the first golf course for Revolution. Their clientele is a bit different than other resorts, so we are trying to think through what that should mean for the golf course. Right now we're exploring the idea of building a much shorter front nine and a more challenging back nine, so that the first few holes will be free in the evenings for family play and for the people who aren't so interested in what score they post, while the challenge builds steadily for those playing the full 18 holes."

The $800-million development will be built under the new Revolution Places division of Case's company. Revolution Places will also be creating other high-end developments. For Cacique, Case is partnering with - in addition to Doak - such high-end brands as One & Only Resorts; Mirval: Life in Balance Spa; Exclusive Resorts; and Agassi-Graf Tennis and Fitness Centers.

"We are bringing together the best of the best to deliver an ownership and guest experience like no other resort in the world," Case said. "Importantly, we will preserve the local environment and culture when developing resorts."

"We're not trying to build quantity; we're trying to build quality," added Doak. "We all love what we do. Unless each property is different than the rest of our portfolio, and special in its own right, what's the point of building another? We'd just as soon relax and enjoy the ones we've already built. But when those special places come along, we appreciate how rare they are and we are committed to making the most of them."

Cacique will focus on environmentally friendly elements that will reduce energy and water demand, while taking advantage of spatial, wind and solar patterns to maximize natural ventilation, shade and daylight. The development will establish a comprehensive recycling and solid-waste management program to neutralize its impact of on the surrounding environment. Additionally, Cacique will create on-site treatment facilities to re-use wastewater and purchase its electrical power from renewable sources.