Friday, February 17, 2012

Dick Zokol and Sagebrush.

With Zokol and Whitman, on-site, during the construction of Sagebrush.
I'm really disppointed to find out that my friend, Richard Zokol, has parted ways with Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club. Not unlike Bobby Jones and Augusta National, there (was) Dick Zokol and Sagebrush. You can't speak of one without immediately thinking of the other.

Sagebrush was Dick's idea. And, along with his partner, Terry Donald (who's still involved with the club), he put a difficult deal together to realize his vision.

I spent more than three years working with Dick (Rod Whitman and Armen Suny) on the design and construction of the golf course at Sagebrush. We didn't always agree, but I got to know Dick well. I developed a healthy respect for him as a big thinker. His clear vision and determination are very rare. (No wonder he's one of very few Canadians who've successfully survived the PGA Tour for more than two decades.) Dick's tough, and he was always resolute with his vision for Sagebrush.

The place turned out pretty good. Named Best New Canadian course for 2009 by Golf Digest and SCOREGolf magazines, Sagebrush currently ranks #28 on the list of the top-100 courses in Canada. But it's more than that. All of the very best golf courses share a single common characteristic. That is, they're all distinct. Sagebrush is an extremely unique golf course. Its massive scale, which Zokol imagined from the get-go, is unparalleled. But, perhaps most important, it's a fun course to play. Dick always wanted it wider and bigger, mostly so everyone had enough room to play golf. This was, arguably, his most important contribution to the golf course design - playability. Dick was adamant that all golfers, Tour players and hacks alike, were simply going to enjoy Sagebrush.

Even though he's stepped down as chairman, I can't imagine the names Dick Zokol and Sagebrush won't be linked forever.

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