At what point does the desired aesthetic compromise playability? I think Kyle Franz got it right with his work in Southern Pines but there has to be a tipping point. I’ll reserve judgement until the project is completed as offered by a couple of other posters.
The answer is a matter of opinion / up to the observer.
Personally, I think the sand aesthetic has become overused and I am moving back in the other direction with my projects now. There’s much less open sand at Te Arai North than at Tara Iti; much less at Sedge Valley than Sand Valley; and I’m betting there’s much less on my new FL project than at all the others down the street. But, you know me, I’m a contrarian. If I can lure everyone else away from it, maybe I will go back to it when I’m 64.
What happens with every trend is that the followers amp up the idea with lipstick until the whole thing feels loud and ugly and far removed from the beauty of the beginning.
Please keep on pioneering. Please remember quiet rather than loud.
Pioneering?? - are you kidding me for me Tom Doak is not a pioneer in regards to any form of new golf course design type - he has taken us back to an golden age style thats not new - more like the equivalent of Postmodernism in Architectural Styles. However he does it very well learning from the best on his travels when he was younger - would I want to play his new courses week in week out - probably not all the time.
Even the courses are of high standard I feel that Doak's designs can be too forgiving at times off the tee and the greens shaping both bit over the top at times based on my experience of playing Doak courses - St Andrews Beach and Renaissance (even though they brought the rough in for Renaissance Cup in 2014 it still felt wide)
Pioneers of Golf Course Designs in their time producing new type of golf course design type then
OTM/Willie Park Jr (late 19th C/early 20th C)
Harry Colt/Alister Mackenzie/CBM (1920s to 1940s)
Robert Trent Jones (1950s to 1960s)
Pete Dye (1970s-1990s)
Mike Strantz (1990s-early 2000s) one wonder if Strantz lived longer how much of the work of Doak/Hanse and C+C he would have got
Robin Hiseman is the nearest to Strantz and his JCB course is certainly different to the norm in UK/Europe
Would I put Doak, Hanse and C+C in that breadth - probably not in terms of pioneering design works - maybe yes in terms of the quality of golf course designs they have produced they are in the top bracket for many.
We haven't really had a real pioneering change in the 21st century in terms of golf course design in the 21st century - its more like going back/through the 'second Golden Age' with 'Minimalism' and 'Naturalism' monikers used often with better maintenance and grass technology.
Desmond Muirhead he tried to take it forward but too far with some crazy ideas he almost stood above the parapet of pioneering ideas.
Going back to the images - the sand looks OTT to me too much for the eye hope it is more restrained in the end than what was produced in the CGI images.