Getting To 18 is Volume One of Two. It is a weighty tome both in size and content. It is 12" X 18" (12" x 36" when you're reading it) and covered in beautiful blue leather(?).
The book details the most important part of a golf courses design - the routing. In this book, Tom Doak explains the reasons why he put the holes where he did on 18 courses. The courses in question span America, New Zealand and Australia.
Getting To 18 Overview
In his typical style, Tom Doak is unabashedly forthright but maintains a tactful approach. It doesn't read like a eulogy nor a remembrance of a victors conquests. It is refreshingly honest - uncommon in a world where so many are determined to bask in their own glory. For example, he highlights an oversight on Tom Fazio's behalf at Stonewall. However, a few chapters later when discussing Atlantic City, he admits making the identical error.
Introduction & Foreward
The introduction must be read multiple times. It reads like a conversation where you quickly discern you must listen rather than hear. The feeling you're left with is the acquired knowledge will appreciate only with the passage of time and only be understood fully alongside the experience. He writes in the Foreward that he wants readers of the book to see, not only what to look for but also how to look.
Layout & Format
Each course is allocated its own chapter. Usually, an overview is given as to how the project was acquired and is closed with the lesson learnt, sometimes the hard way, from the journey to 18... It is amazing how many times he refers to precedence on great golf courses from his time in the UK.
Two aspects become readily apparent. First, there is a huge advantage to have insight and knowledge of what has been done previously, especially on the world's greatest courses. Secondly, the ability to apply that knowledge in real-world scenarios and situations is what separates the good from great.
The book is large to enable the reader to work with the topographical maps provided as one reads the reasons behind the routing. Because of the chronological sequencing, you're given a unique overview of the development of his work and views on design.
Getting To 18 Conclusion
There is one other book on routing that we know of: Routing the Golf Course: The Art & Science That Forms the Golf Journey by Forrest Richardson. In comparing the two, it is Tom Doak who delivers the hardcore golf course architecture content. Richardson's deals primarily with laying out courses with an emphasis on housing and litigation issues in the American market. If those are areas of concern, then Forrest's book is preferred.
To Buy or Not to Buy?
Should you buy the book? How deep are you down the GCA rabbit warren? Have you read and understood the foundational texts of golf course architecture? Got a firm grasp on the basic concepts of best practice regarding golf course design? If so, then probably. If you haven't digested the seminal works of the greats already, it would be the proverbial dive into the deep end. It is a niche of a niche which most would find dull if they're not proper GCA geeks.
I, however, find it quite exhilarating to understand what goes into the least understood aspect of course design. It's not cheap but the information can only be found here. There are less than 1500 copies produced and at a cost of $350 USD the price tag seems high at first glance, but it is justified. In fact, I look forward to continuing with Volume 2!