For once, the usually bland rhetoric contained in a press release proved 100-percent accurate. When former European Tour pro turned course designer and golf-podcast host Michael Clayton departed the Australia-based architecture firm of Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking and Mead earlier this week, he was said to be “leaving to pursue other opportunities” and that “he will continue to be a significant influence in the game.”
So Clayton is, and almost certainly will be going forward. Alongside two of the most respected names in course design, Michigan-based Mike DeVries of DeVries Designs and Frank Pont of Infinite Variety Golf Design out of the Netherlands, the Australian native is now one-third of a new and truly international partnership, Clayton, DeVries and Pont.
It shapes to be a powerful combination of talents. Among them, the three bring almost 80 years of experience in the course-design business. And an impressive track record. Some examples: With Tom Doak, Clayton was co-designer of the acclaimed Barnbougle Dunes in Tasmania. DeVries designed the similarly well-received Cape Wickham Links on Australia’s King Island. And Pont, well-known for his sensitive restoration of Harry Colt courses, has been involved in noteworthy projects at Cruden Bay in Scotland, Swinley Forest in England and Le Touquet in France.
“The cumulative that resides within our three firms is immense,” Pont said. “The projects we have undertaken cover a vast range of client requirements. Whether it is a new build, a detailed renovation or a careful, researched restoration, this partnership offers a market-leading solution.”
Although all three men will continue to work independently, Clayton remaining in Melbourne, the new agreement will make the resources of each company available to clients. Already the new partnership has been approved to work on a long-term plan for a renovation on The Addington course outside of London. And a high-profile project at one of the top courses in Ireland is expected to become official in the next couple of weeks.
Such arrangements are actually nothing new. Course architecture has long been collaborative.
“The alliance of like-minds has always been a part of our business,” said Clayton, whose previous work covers many of his homeland’s best courses: Lake Karrinyup, Victoria, The Lakes, Royal Queensland, The Grange (West) and Kingston Heath. “In the late-1920s, Alister MacKenzie transformed the direction of golf in Australia with his radical [for the time] philosophies on how best to arrange the game and its courses. His partnership with local man Alex Russell was a critical part of ensuring his vision was transformed onto the ground after he had sailed on to America and now iconic commissions at Cypress Point, Augusta National and Crystal Downs.
“Frank, Mike and I have formed a union based on the principles of those past traditions. We are enthused about the possibilities of combining our global reach into a business capable of working all over the world.”