All the great golf courses take the golfer on a journey through the property directing them to all the best spots making the most of the features that exist on and off the site. A significant part of the enjoyment of playing the game of golf is generated by our awareness of the surrounds and the way the golf course and the environment interact. The key is “seizing on any natural feature and accentuating the best golfing points about them” Dr. A Mackenzie (Spirit of St Andrews 1933)
What’s important is that the golf course “looks” and “feels” like it belongs in its space and where possible even enhances this space. If it’s identifiable with its surrounds then there is every chance it will have memorability, character and individuality, which are so important to achieving a great product.
At Laguna Lang Co – a golf course I designed alongside Sir Nick Faldo – our design brief was simple: create a golf course that embraced the surrounds and would be sustainable into the future. In that regard, we painstakingly looked to preserve everything we could. We spent copious amount of time at the start studying the site on foot understanding its character and terrain. This exercise was very helpful in that we established early on that we could utilize most of the outstanding features to create strategic and visual interest. We resisted building features that that had little in common with the site. Where we had to work the land we did so with care to ensure that these new features closely mimicked what already existed on site.
We wanted the golf course to have a real sense of place – golfers had to feel as if they were part of a story discovering the features that made the site so interesting and memorable for us at the start. What we found – at Lang Co – was a site defined by a number of environments: rice paddy areas, beach, jungle, rock, streams and dune scape and in many ways it was important that the golfer got to experience each of these different zones – on both the front and back nine – so the routing was key to unlocking the sites potential.
Now the golf course weaves its way through the myriad of features and is packed full of variety and visual interest. Take for instance the rice paddy fields – a unique golf feature – that flank a number of holes and add great strategic interest or the wonderful rock outcrops that frame some of the play areas – in particular Hole 11 which is a treat to see and play.
Hole 11: Nestled up against the mountain we cleared the jungle with great care exposing wonderful rock outcrops that add strategic and visual interest. We designed the back portion of the green so that it’s nestled in the rock feature giving it great character. We chose not to add any man made features – like bunkers – which would have complicated the play and competed with the natural rock features. By embracing the surrounds we created a golf hole that has a sense of belonging and is full of character.
Golden Age Golf Architect Tom Simpson (1877 – 1964) wrote that “the best golf courses all merge pleasantly into the landscape; the folds of greens and fairways should present agreeable curves against backgrounds of trees and hills; and where it is necessary to move earth to heighten levels or form depressions in new ground, the thing should be done with the delivery of a sculptor modeling his clay. At Laguna Lang Co we looked to build on these words by creating a golf course that would merge seamlessly into the surrounds and be memorable because of it.
Paul Jansen is a Golf Architect at Jansen Golf Design & Construction having previously worked as lead Architect for Sir Nick Faldo at Laguna Lang Co (awarded “Best New Golf Course Asia Pacific – 2013” at the annual Asia Pacific Golf Summit). Jansen Golf Design & Construction have just recently completed the total rebuild of Laguna Phuket in Thailand which has been hailed as a Top Asian Resort course and an environmental success. For more information, visit: www.jansengolfdesign.com