Design Notes

Tom Doak renovates New Zealand’s Cape Kidnappers

Tom Watson will design Cypress Shoals near Augusta; Weibring-Wolfard tweaks the bunkers at Illinois’ WeaverRidge

Cape Kidnappers Golf Club in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, a perennial world-top-50 course, has been renovated by its original architect, Tom Doak.

Opened for play in 2004, Cape Kidnappers immediately staked its claim as one of golf’s modern architectural and scenic marvels. Much of the back nine strategically flirts with sheer, white cliffs that drop nearly 500 feet down into Hawkes Bay.

VIDEO: Cape Kidnappers

Ownership was determined to restore the firm and fast conditions that Doak first created — because bounce and roll are vital to the strategic function of links designs, heathland designs and one-of-a-kind hybrids like Cape Kidnappers. Working with Doak and ace shaper Angela Moser, course superintendent Brad Sim oversaw the regrassing of all 18 fairways, in addition to the rebuilding and regrassing of all 18 greens.

"We rebuilt the putting surfaces from 10 inches down and Angela put the contours back exactly as they’d been before," said director of golf Ray Geffre, who also looks after golf operations at Kauri Cliffs, located 311 miles to the north and a world-top-100 golf course in its own right.

“Regrassing the greens at Cape and addressing our thatch problem was pretty straightforward. But the fairways were a huge undertaking — just an enormous volume of turf for an in-house crew to peel back and replant. Oh, and that entire project was undertaken and completed under COVID conditions. My hat’s off to Brad and his crews. They did an amazing job.

The course was not the only thing addressed. Geffre added that the club expanded its range, built new putting and chipping greens, and began strategic tree clearing.

"We’re determined to keep that going," he said. "This is an incredibly diverse and lush eco-system, and I doubt there’s another resort on earth that takes environmental protections more seriously than we do. But we need to protect our vistas, too, and preserve the original design here."


Tom Watson, a two-time Masters winner, is designing a new golf course in North Augusta, South Carolina, just 4.5 miles from Augusta National Golf Club.

More details are forthcoming, but Watson has confirmed his design role for Cypress Shoals, a 1,742-acre sporting retreat in Edgefield County.

"There’s really no vision right now, it’s just what the land tells you to do," Watson told the The Post and Courier. “We’ve got some riverfront property and we’ve got some hilly property, so it’ll be some combination of some flat areas and some hilly areas.”

Aside from the elevation changes and attractive natural setting, Watson will deliver a memorable collection of bunkers, from tiny, penal pot bunkers to large, sprawling waste bunkers. Watson’s course is expected to open later in 2023. A second course is planned, with an architect to be named later.

WeaverRidge Golf Club in Peoria, Illinois, has successfully refreshed its collection of bunkers, courtesy of Weibring-Wolfard Golf Design.

The owners of nearby Metamora Fields Golf Club — Jim and Carol Ring, their daughter Vickie and son-in-law Kevin Brinkman — purchased WeaverRidge in June 2019 with the intent of restoring the 1997 Hurdzan/Fry design to its previous heights.

By 2005-2006, it was ranked as high as #37 in the U.S. by Golf Digest on its Top 100 Public Courses list before falling off entirely. Ownership retained five-time PGA Tour winner D.A. Weibring and his design partner Steve Wolfard, architects of Metamora Fields, to bring about the transformation.

Unfortunately, a few months after signing on, Weibring and Wolfard had to hold off making any progress due to a 100-year flood event that visited the course in September 2019. The first round of storms brought 5 inches of rain and by midnight, that number had climbed to seven inches. Eventually, several hundred thousand dollars of damage were incurred. And then ... COVID.

The pandemic changed business. The bunker renovation was put on a hold, but the club went through with opening a second restaurant that included the addition of two AboutGolf simulators that proved to be an off-season revenue boon.

Fleetwood Services, a Dallas-based company that builds and renovates sports fields and golf courses, commenced the bunker work in June 2022. The process reduced the total sand bunker areas from 145,000 square feet to 58,000 square feet. It also installed Better Billy Bunker liners and OhioBest white sand throughout.

The bunker renovation focused on three main points: playability, visibility and maintainability. The new bunkers also reduced the overall bunker square footage, though the new design allows for maximum visibility of the bunkers from all angles on the course.

Known for its variety, WeaverRidge serves up a flattish front nine with generous landing areas and well-guarded greens while the back nine is characterized by dramatic elevation changes.