Friday, August 19, 2016

The Pipeline, august 19, 2016

     Baja California Sur, Mexico. A U.S. development group has set out to build yet another “signature” layout in one of Mexico’s most popular vacation destinations. San Diego, California-based Ohana Real Estate Investors LLC has commissioned Fred Couples to create the golf course for Maravilla Los Cabos, a private community that’s expected to emerge on property located roughly midway between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. The 18-hole track, to be known as Twin Dolphin Golf Course, will feature native landscaping and other water-preserving measures, and it’ll be Couples’ first in Mexico. “Our aim is to build a world-class course that is unparalleled in Cabo with regard to conservation,” Ohana’s vice president of development, Alex Hill, said in a press release. So far, Couples has put his “signature” on close to 20 U.S. courses, most often in collaboration with Gene Bates. At Twin Dolphin, however, he’s working with Todd Eckenrode, an Irvine, California-based architect who has an appreciation for “classic” golf designs and, he’s said, an “unwavering desire to be part of something great.” Ohana hopes to unveil the course in 2018.

     Cartagena, Colombia. Would “the first ecological golf and beach community in Colombia” be complete without a “signature” golf course capable of hosting events on the PGA Tour? Urban Group Colombia doesn’t think so. The Bogota-based company has hired Greg Norman to create the centerpiece for Mar de Indias, which is emerging on a 685-acre waterfront tract roughly 20 miles north of Cartagena. The 18-hole layout will be Norman’s first in Colombia, and it’ll be flanked by up to 2,000 single-family houses, Norman-branded villas, and condos as well as hotels, a town center, meeting space, a spa, and a beach club. “I’ve actually fallen in love with the country,” Norman told Links magazine. “I love the people, I love the culture.” To prove his love, and to ensure that he gets a return on his investment, Norman is also “developing the design aesthetic for the entire project” and providing “marketing and branding support.” The golf course, which was originally supposed to be designed by Ron Garl, is under construction.

     The original version of the preceding post first appeared in the May 2016 issue of the World Edition of the Golf Course Report.

     Roscommon, Michigan. Two 18-hole layouts may not suffice at Forest Dunes Golf Club, even if one of them is Tom Doak’s recently opened “reversible” track. Lew Thompson is thinking about adding some kind of “short” course to his 1,300-acre property, and Doak, Mike DeVries, and Rick Smith -- all of them architects who live, either full or part time, in Michigan -- are being considered for the commission. “I want it to be someone local,” Thompson told Golf Advisor. “Saves you lots of money.” Thompson hasn’t announced a start date for the project.

     East Lothian, Scotland. Is there any upside in Muirfield’s decision to remain a men-only club? Oddly enough, there might be. By denying admission to women, the 272-year-old venue in East Lothian, Scotland has lost the right to host the much-cherished Open Championship, a blow to its finances (not to mention its image) if there ever was one. But in the wake of Muirfield’s narrow vote to preserve the status quo, the club is once again talking about building a second golf course, this one a “lady-friendly” layout that would, in the words of a letter written to members, “offer high-quality golf in a marvelous location and be outstanding in its own right.” No details have been announced and no construction schedule has been set, but the new course would be accompanied by a new clubhouse whose design “would no doubt benefit from female input.” Muirfield’s attempt to open its doors to women fell short by only 16 votes, so it’s easy to envision a future scenario in which the club decides that the Open is worth more to its legacy than its exclusionary traditions.

     The original version of the preceding post first appeared in the June 2016 issue of the World Edition of the Golf Course Report.

     Rome, Wisconsin. A year before it opens, a prominent golf writer in the Midwest is already gushing about Mike Keiser’s Sand Valley resort in central Wisconsin. “I can’t say enough good things about this place,” writes Gary D’Amato of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Maybe so, but D’Amato nonetheless had plenty of good things to say. He describes the resort’s forthcoming Coore & Crenshaw-designed course as “no-frills golf in an unbelievably beautiful, natural setting” -- similar to the courses that the partners have designed for Keiser in Oregon, Tasmania, and Nova Scotia -- and predicts that it’ll soon be regarded as “one of the best public access courses in America.” He contends that Sand Valley “promises to be as good as anything [Keiser has] done” and believes that it’ll be not only “an international destination” but “a blissful escape from the real world.” Sand Valley’s second course, a David McLay Kidd-designed layout, is also under construction, and Keiser could eventually add as many as three additional courses on his 1,700-acre property. Even at this early stage, however, it doesn’t appear that he has a dire need for a publicist.

     Hà Nội, Vietnam. By late 2017 or early 2018, one of Vietnam’s premier golf developers expects to open its second Nicklaus-branded golf course in greater Hà Nội. BRG Group has broken ground on a Jack Nicklaus II-designed track at Kings Island Golf Resort, a 36-hole complex roughly an hour’s drive outside the capital city. The 18-hole course will complement Kings Island’s existing layouts, which were designed by Robert McFarland (the Lakeside track) and Phil Ryan (the Mountain track). In recent years, BRG and Jack Nicklaus’ design group have established close and mutually beneficial ties. Their relationship began when BRG hired Nicklaus II, the golf legend’s son, to refresh Tam Dao Golf Club, a nondescript venue in the Soc Son District of Hà Nội that now operates as Legend Hill Golf Resort. BRG also recently unveiled a Nicklaus II-designed Nicklaus Academy in Hà Nội, and it plans to build similar facilities in Hải Phòng, Đà Nẵng, and Hồ Chí Minh City. Nguyen Thi Nga, BRG’s chairwoman, thinks the alliance with Nicklaus Design will help her company achieve one of its major golf-related goals, which is to make Vietnam “a major force in international golf.” Incidentally, Golfasian believes that Kings Island is “arguably the most scenic course in North Vietnam.”  

     The original version of the preceding post first appeared in the June 2016 issue of the World Edition of the Golf Course Report.

     County Kerry, Ireland. Robert Trent Jones, Jr. is at work on his first golf project in Ireland. The Palo Alto, California-based architect is overseeing what’s said to be “a total redesign” of the 10-year-old course at Skellig Bay Golf Club, outside Waterville in County Kerry. Skellig Bay, which is currently closed, has been called “the kind of course no one builds anymore.” It was developed by Micheál “Haulie” O’Shea and designed by another U.S. architect, Ron Kirby, a duo who’d worked together previously on the creation of Old Head of Kinsale, in County Cork. At Skellig Bay, according to Travel + Leisure, they fashioned “a rugged and staggeringly beautiful golf course” with “awe-inspiring ocean views.” The course has some issues, however, for it was built on a site that doesn’t drain well. Ted Dwyer Family Business reports that the 18-hole track is expected to re-open in the spring of next year. When it does, it’ll be known as Hog’s Head Golf Course.

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