Dr. O John Ma on The World’s Finest Golf Courses

Dr. O John Ma

October 3, 2021

Dr. O John Ma (6)

As a practicing physician, Dr. O. John Ma worked hard to squeeze golf into his busy schedule. As a retired physician, John Ma MD has found time to explore some of America’s finest golf courses. In this article, he’ll share impressions of some of those courses with you.


On the rugged coast of Oregon, Bandon Dunes reminds golfers of the rough coasts of Scotland, the home of the sport. At Bandon Dunes, grassy hills roll toward the Pacific Ocean. Untamed shores extend for miles.


The developers of Bandon Dunes created six golf courses, each with its unique challenges. Dr. O. John Ma’s favorite is Pacific Dunes which, John Ma MD says, wasn’t so much built as it was discovered. When Tom Doak designed and opened the course in 2001, he used natural features as bunkers, leaving them in the state in which they have existed for centuries. He laid out the course to emerge from stately pines to 60-foot sand dunes. As a result, when the wind blows, precise shots are necessary.


When guests at Bandon Dunes feel the need of a brief change of place, the resort’s lakes are stocked with bass and cutthroat trout.


On the opposite side of the continent. Dr. O. John Ma is a fan of Tobacco Road, just down the road from Pinehurst in North Carolina. Tobacco Road has been described as golf’s roller-coaster thrill ride. The course cuts through an old granite quarry on land once cultivated by tobacco farmers.


Tobacco Road’s notable holes include the 525-yard 4th hole, where the fairway bends sharply left around a massive sandy pit, the 531-yard 11th hole, which veers to the right of a 40-foot deep sand trap, the 194-yard 14th hole, at the end of a bean-shaped course that slopes down toward a river, and the eighteenth with its tee shot out of the quarry into a blind landing area on the freeway.


John Ma MD is also a fan of Old Macdonald at Bandon Dunes, with its fearsome bunkers and its panoply of angles of play. He enjoys playing Whistling Straits, not far from Sheboygan, Wisconsin. In September 2021, Whistling Straits hosted the Ryder Cup. It’s also the home of the Kohler Golf Academy.


Dr. O. John Ma has played the game in the midst of the panoramic views of the Cascades at Gamble Sands in Washington and was one of the first golfers to play its Quicksands Course. And he has played the difficult, iconic Pinehurst #2 in North Carolina, host of many championships, including the US Open.


What would Dr. O. John Ma tell you about his scores?


John Ma MD recounts the comment about the course in Golf Magazine: “Numbers are as irrelevant at these wonderful courses as they are at St. Andrews. It’s just golfer against course, and against weather. Golf really doesn’t get much purer than that.”