Sutton Bay Club Garners Award

By: Mark Leslie

Sutton Bay Club, a spectacular 4,300-acre facility that includes 18 holes of championship golf and a nine-hole par-3 course as well as fishing, pheasant and goose hunting, and sporting clays, has received a Golf Development of the Year award from Crittenden, the publisher of Golf Inc. magazine.

Sutton Bay, whose Graham Marsh-designed golf course flows through the Missouri Breaks of Lake Oahe in central South Dakota, won the award as the best public or private development in which the golf course was built for under $5 million. The third annual award competition is unique in that judging was based on: how well the course achieved the development team's vision; its visual appeal; and the efficiency of its routing.

General Manager Mark Amundson was excited that the award was solely based on the golf course "and yet we have so much more than golf."

Mike Jenkins, president of the Golf Group of Landscapes Unlimited, which built the course and is part-owner of Sutton Bay, said the developers' mission was to create something truly unique that could not only be a showpiece for Graham's design and Landscapes' construction abilities, but a club that would be perceived as unique for prospective members in that it combined, golf, fishing and hunting "all on a spectacular site."

Jenkins pointed out that the panel of judges included golf course architects, contractors and developers, which "is a credit to this accomplishment."

"We wanted to build a world-class golf course and move a minimal amount of earth, using the site's natural features to enhance the course," said Amundson, who is one of 10 partners on the ownership team.

Regarding the award category on visual appeal, Amundson said, "What people find most intriguing about Sutton Bay is that you never lose sight of the lake and the vistas are miles in every direction on every hole."

He said the out-and-back links layout became the evident best choice because the over 400 acres of land the course encompasses lies between the lake and a long, parallel ridge line 300 feet higher in elevation.

"The land isn't very wide and the topography is quite aggressive," he said.

Sutton Bay is a private club with a limited number of memberships available. While in the membership development process Sutton Bay will allow limited outside play by reservation only.

Besides Sutton Bay Club, the Golf, Inc. citations were presented to Giants Ridge in Biwabik, Minn., as Golf Development of the Year among public courses costing more than $5 million, and Spanish Oaks Golf Club in Bee Cave, Tex., won in the category for private club over $5 million.