This, for us and many, many millions of people around the world, is the new normal. The office is closed. Construction sites are closed. We are all working from home, trying to do the best we can in less than ideal circumstances….flakey wifi anyone? We’ve had more video conference calls in the past two weeks than we’ve ever had before; trying to get design work out to clients is proving challenging – coordinating a team remotely is not as easy as Microsoft would have you believe – but we are getting work done.
Of course, for a distressingly high number of people, this is going to be life-threatening and our thoughts will be with them, their families and friends as they come to terms with the personal cost of this virus. We are truly grateful that we are all, for now at least, healthy and safe. To each of you reading this, we hope the same is true.
The European Tour returns this week to Royal Greens G&CC, King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia for the Saudi International powered by SBIA.
The course designed by European Golf Design plays to a par of 70 and a length of 7010 yards. The golf course is characterised by beautifully manicured playing surfaces, enhanced by the creation of wadi & lake features and colourful and maintained native landscaped areas. Regular shaped bunkers, set within the manicured grassed areas, contrasts with freeform desert waste bunker edges. The creation of bold contouring, contrasting with the odd subtlety and ‘imperfection’, not only creates intrigue, but also ties all golf course features seamlessly into the neighbouring leisure facilities.
Inspired by the surrounding Saudi Arabian desert landscape, numerous wadi features, which meander through the golf site, play a significant strategic & functional role on numerous holes. These features help to alleviate storm drainage from both the golf course and adjacent residential neighbourhoods and each wadi terminates in one of the four salt water lakes, all of which have been created for strategic challenge, aesthetic enhancement and habitat creation. As well as enhancing the course’s visual appeal and challenge, these ‘drainage’ features, along with the spectacular views of the Red Sea, will further characterise the course setting and compliment the perfectly manicured green, tee & fairway edges.
Complimenting the golf course is a premium golf academy featuring a state-of-the-art teaching facility with extensive practice areas including a full length driving range with swing studios, as well as extensive putting, chipping and bunkers greens complexes. The Academy will open in early 2017, offering instruction and practice facilities including special facilities for women and children to learn the game.
The following images follow the journey in creating the high-end international 18 hole golf course.
January 30 – February 02 Saudi International – Royal Greens, King Abdullah Economic City
The end of January sees The European Tour return to Royal Greens, King Abdullah Economic City for the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers. The course, designed by European Golf Design, boasts panoramic views with the Red Sea coast as the backdrop and is the first European Tour event to be played in Saudi Arabia. Dustin Johnson returns as defending champion.
European Tour Destinations Senior Classic – PGA Catalunya Resort, Girona, Spain
The third edition of the European Tour Destinations Senior Classic will take place from July 12-14 at the home of Spain’s no.1 course, PGA Catalunya Resort, as part of the Stadium Course 20th anniversary celebrations. The Stadium Course design by European Golf Design in association with Ángel Gallardo has hosted three editions of the Open de España and was the setting for European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage for nine consecutive years until 2016. In 2019, the Stadium Course, will host The European Tour Destinations Senior Classic, an event that has been on the Staysure Tour International Schedule since 2016. European Golf Design are currently planning the renovation programme for the Stadium Course.
July 23 -26
Evian Championship – Evian Resort Golf Club
The Evian Championship is one of the 5 major tournaments in Ladies golf, and his held every year on the of the world women’s golf held every year on the French shores of Lake Geneva, at within the Evian Resort Golf Club, in Evian-les-Bains. The 26th edition of The Evian Championship will be held from 23 to 26 July 2020. Having completed the redesign and renovation of the existing course we are now in the process of making changes to the short course at the Evian Academy.
August 27 – 30
Omega European Masters – Crans-sur-Sierre
The Omega European Masters is one of the most prestigious golf competitions and indisputably the most spectacular course on the European Tour schedule. Originally hosted at Golf-Club Crans-sur-Sierre in 1939, this years tournament shall take place from the 27 to 30 August. As in previous years, European Golf Design have been overseeing renovation works through this past winter, with noticeable changes being made to the 2nd and 3rd greens, as well as an enlarging of the putting green.
September 03 – 06 Porsche European Open – Green Eagle North Course
Top stars return in September to Green Eagle in Hamburg for the sixth edition of the Porsche European Open that will be played on the Porsche Nord Course from 3 to 6 September 2020. A delighted Paul Casey was the winner in 2019.
Opened in 1997, the North Course was designed by its owner, Michael Blesch. At 7165 metres, it is one of the longest courses in Europe. During the discussions and negotiations that led to the course being awarded the rights to host the 2017 Porsche European Open, it was agreed that some features of the course needed renovation. A programme of changes was started and completed within seven weeks in the autumn of 2016. This included the redesign and construction of six green complexes, all of the physical work for which was undertaken by the Club’s own staff. Further work is ongoing to improve the course even more prior to future European Tour events.
September 10 – 13
BMW PGA Championship – West Course
Almost needing no introduction, the West Course has featured prominently in the European Tour’s schedule for many years and, as such, is known to golfers and spectators around the world. Originally designed by Harry Colt, the course has been changed several times with over the years, the most recent being in 2009. It would be fair to say that those changes did not meet the approval of either the Members or European Tour players and as a result, plans were put into place to renovate the course during the summer of 2016 to reintroduce style, strategy and enjoyment. Working with Ernie Els and his design associate, Greg Letsche, along with a European Tour Advisory Group, including Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjørn and David Jones, Wentworth’s Director of Courses, Kenny Mackay, and Chief Executive, Stephen Gibson, we were tasked with liaising with each stakeholder to prepare a cohesive plan that addressed all of the stated concerns.
To design an 18 hole golf course in association with Colin Montgomerie, in the resort of Belek, near Antalya in Turkey.
Set within 104 hectares of picturesque, mixed pine forest and sandy ridges, the feel of the natural environment has been maintained, thereby enchancing the particular characteristics of the golf course.
With one of the most impressive clubhouses in Belek, views of the course and surrounding area are available from the 30 meter tower of the clubhouse.
The course forms part of a new 200 million-euro golf and hotel complex. To complement the 18-hole championship golf course, there is a flood-lit nine-hole short course and a golf academy, as well as a 600-room five-star hotel and 31 holiday villas.
Turkish Airlines Open
After a three-year absence, the Turkish Airlines Open has returned to the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course in Belek, which first staged the tournament in 2013. This year, many big names will be chasing a first prize of $2 million, from a $7 million pot.
When Colin Montgomerie along with European Golf Design began designing the Montgomerie Maxx Royal on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, he hoped that it would become a well-respected course and bolster golf in the region.
From the moment it opened in 2008, the design was immediately recognized by many professionals as one of the country’s best. It took just five years for it to stage its first big event, the Turkish Airlines Open, part of the European Tour. It attracted Tiger Woods in its first year, when he famously shot a 63 (9-under-par) in the second round.
In the two years that followed, big names came to Turkey. Brooks Koepka of the United States, who made his name on the European Tour before winning multiple majors, won in 2014 and Victor Dubuisson of France, who won in 2013, triumphed for a second time in 2015. When the tournament moved to the nearby Carya Golf Club in 2016, Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark took the title, while Justin Rose of England won in 2017 and 2018.
Now a part of the Rolex Series, its importance is emphasized by its place in the calendar. After Turkey, there is just one more event, the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa, before the DP World Tour Championship, which will decide the final standings in the season-long Race to Dubai competition. Last year it was won by Francesco Molinari of Italy.
The Montgomerie Maxx Royal has a par-72, 7,132-yard layout, with undulating fairways within about 260 acres of mixed pine forest and sandy ridges. The course begins and ends with par 5s, offering the chance for a good start and a grandstand finish, when the lead can change hands in the closing holes.
Dubai Hills – the most recent course by Berkshire-based architecture firm European Golf Design – has been named the ‘World’s Best New Golf Course’ at the prestigious World Golf Awards.
Dubai Hills was chosen ahead of seven other nominees from around the world to land the title at the annual awards, with contenders including Jack Nicklaus’ Michlifen in Morocco, spectacular Hoiana Shores in Vietnam and JCB Golf and Country Club in England.
The JCB course in Staffordshire was also created by European Golf Design, which is the design company of the European Tour and IMG.
EGD’s architect Gary Johnston laid out Dubai Hills, which opened at the end of 2018 and has already made a significant impact in the emirate’s golf scene.
It enjoys views of the famous skyline of downtown Dubai, most notably on the par-5 5th hole, which Johnston has routed so that it plays directly towards the iconic Burj Khalifa.
The course, whose paspalum grasses ensure it is in immaculate condition all year round, incorporates three phases.
The front nine plays through a series of deep wadis (valleys) whereas there is a more open, desert feel to the back nine. Both halves end with challenging holes dominated by the large lakes.
“To have Dubai Hills recognised as the World’s Best New Course, given what it is up against both regionally and internationally, is hugely satisfying,” says EGD’s managing director Jeremy Slessor.
Above: Dubai Hills Designer, Gary Johnston.
Three of the firm’s other Middle East designs were also winners at the awards: Dubai Creek was named Best Course in the Middle East; Royal GC the Best Course in Bahrain; and Royal Greens the Best Course in Saudi Arabia.
The victory for Dubai Hills is vindication for Johnston’s emphasis on playability rather than on another tournament-standard course for the Middle East.
“Like The Montgomerie and Arabian Ranches, Dubai Hills was always going to be a members’ golf club and, while it may sound obvious, we wanted to create a facility members would enjoy playing,” says Johnston.
“We tried hard not to fall into the trap of making it too difficult or too long, so deliberately made the fairways that little bit wider but added interest by making them very undulating.
“The greens also have plenty of movement but knowing how quick they were likely to get once open, we made sure we didn’t go overboard.”
The award – which was announced at a ceremony at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi – adds to the firm’s already stellar reputation in the Middle East.
EGD – who have also been involved in the Ryder Cup courses of 2010, 2018 and 2022 – have worked in the region for well over a decade on projects in Dubai, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
“The Middle East is an incredibly dynamic region,” adds Slessor.
“Everywhere we have worked, we’ve come across different cultures, techniques and challenges. We would like to think that experience has paid off in the success Dubai Hills is enjoying now.
“Equally, it would be wrong for us to take sole credit for that success – this has been a collaborative process: working with Emaar to define the brief in the first place, through to design work, construction and now maintenance, the entire project team deserves enormous credit.”
Johnston is already working on another new course in Dubai for Emaar, which will be located close to the new Al Maktoum international airport.
Emaar’s brief included firm ideas of what they wanted from Dubai Hills – and the result is a course unlike any other in Dubai.
“The client wanted us to take the best bits of their other courses and add a bit of extra ‘wow’ factor,” says Johnston.
“We managed to do this by creating some significant elevation changes on the front nine – something you don’t tend to get on many Dubai courses.
“We also used the corridor layout to keep the focus on the hole that is being played and limit opportunities to see what is coming up ahead.”
This aspect, allied to the promise of outstanding year-round conditioning and the emphasis on playability, has meant Dubai Hills has enjoyed a successful entry to the Dubai golf market.
“Golfers of all abilities took to the layout and challenge immediately,” says Dubai Hills general manager Elliott Gray.
“It was incredible to see so many golfers in the UAE who had not been part of a golf club in the past four years join the club in early December 2018.
“The friendly ‘stadium like’ fairways have ensured membership sales targets were exceeded in the first six weeks of preview play.”
The World Golf Awards are part of the World Travel Awards, which are now in their 26th year. Voting on the awards is done by golf travel and tourism industry professionals and also by the public.
For further information or to arrange an interview, contact Jeremy Slessor on 01344 870300 or email@example.com.
Note: The attached images are free to use, with a credit for Kevin Murray.
To design an 18 hole golf course in the Pirin Mountains, Bulgaria, in association with Ian Woosnam.
Located close to the Bulgarian Ski resort of Bansko, the resort has been designed to be a year round destination, guests are able to play golf in the summer months and ski during the winter.
Situated in a valley the course has views of snow-covered peaks. Lakes and mountain creeks come into play with greens guarded by towering pine trees. Residential properties, a state of the art academy and clubhouse compliment the golf course.
Designed in association with: Ian Woosnam
Client: Pirin Golf Holiday Club Ltd
Course: 18 Holes
Length: 6210 metres, Par: 72
Pirin Golf & Country Club