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Legendary Architect Kyle Phillips: “Only the Course Matters”

Interview by Richard Wax

Kyle Phillips was fascinated by the game of golf ever since his early childhood. He graduated in landscape architecture an specialized in golf course design. After over ten years as architect and Vice President of the California-based Robert Trent Jones II practice, Kyle Phillips created his own Company. Phillips is at the forefront of the next generation of leading golf course architects world-wide. He has devoted much thought to how the game can develop in  the years to come to enhance the enjoyment of golf connoisseurs on the five continents which are seeing his remarkable work. His first contract was at Kingsbarns, only ten kilometers from the “Home of Golf” in St Andrews. The resulting course was acclaimed universally and attained the top 50 course ranking in the world where it has remained ever since.

Richard Wax:  Why did you chose to become a golf-course architect?
Kyle Phillips:  I love my work and did not become a golf architect for the financial return but because this is what I just love to do. I am overjoyed to drive such immense pleasure from having a profession which is exactly what I love doing – designing golf courses! Read More…

Yas Links named in Top 25 Courses

Yas Links has been named one of the world’s top 25 by American magazine, Golf Digest.

A voting panel of experts ranked the two-year-old course 24th in the world, making it the best new golf course outside America.

Designed by one of golf’s most innovative designers, Kyle Phillips, Yas Links is a testing par 72 that measures 7,414 yards off the back tees and boasts one of the game’s most spectacular finishing stretches, sitting opposite the Yas Marina Circuit F1 race track and in view of the iconic Ferrari World Abu Dhabi theme park.

The combination of Yas and the emirate’s other two championship-ready courses – Abu Dhabi Golf Club and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club – create a distinct and differentiated golf experience.

“Much like he did with Kingsbarns 10 years ago, Kyle Phillips has created a golf course from scratch that feels and plays like a completely natural site he just happened to stumble upon,” said Robbie Greenfield, editor of Golf Digest Middle East.

With six clubs within a 90-minute drive, Abu Dhabi has a wealth of golf offerings – from parkland to beach and links courses – for all types of player.

Source: Golf Monthly

Del Paso C.C. To Host 2015 U.S. Senior Open

The 2015 U.S. Senior Open at Del Paso Country Club will be the first USGA championship for the Sacramento, Calif., club since the 1982 U.S. Women’s Open. (Courtesy Martin Miller of Miller Brown)

Far Hills, N.J. – The United States Golf Association today announced Del Paso Country Club, in Sacramento, Calif., as the host site for the 2015 U.S. Senior Open Championship. This will be the fifth USGA championship held at Del Paso Country Club. The dates of the championship are June 25-28.

“The USGA is pleased to continue its friendship with Del Paso Country Club and the community of Sacramento,” said USGA Vice President and Championship Committee Chairman Thomas J. O’Toole Jr. “Del Paso and Sacramento have embraced the spirit of this national championship and will be great partners with the USGA in producing what we are confident will be a successful championship and community event.”

The most recent USGA championship at Del Paso was the 1982 U.S. Women’s Open, when Janet Alex won by six strokes for her first professional victory. Del Paso has also twice hosted the U.S. Women’s Amateur. In 1957, JoAnne Gunderson Carner, at age 18, won the second of her eight USGA championships by defeating Anne Casey Johnstone, 8 and 6. In 1976, Donna Horton posted a 2-and-1 victory over Marianne Bretton. Del Paso also hosted the 1964 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur, with Loma Smith capturing the first of her back-to-back titles by one stroke.

“Del Paso Country Club is very pleased to bring the 2015 U.S. Senior Open Championship to our club and the greater Sacramento community,” said Dan Spector, 2015 Senior Open championship chairman and past president of club. “We look forward to hosting this prestigious championship and sharing with the rest of the world the club and community of which we are so very proud.”

Del Paso Country Club was founded in 1916 on property that was part of the original Rancho Del Paso, a historic 44,000-acre area used by 19th-century settlers as a pathway through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The course, which is located 10 miles northeast of downtown Sacramento, was designed by Scotsman John L. Black. It was redesigned and renovated by architect Kyle Phillips in 2006.

The U.S. Senior Open Championship was first played in 1981. The championship is open to any professional and amateur golfer 50 years of age with a USGA Handicap Index® not exceeding 3.4. In 2012, the U.S. Senior Open Championship will be played at Indianwood Golf & Country Club, in Lake Orion, Mich., from July 12-15. The 2013 championship will be played July 11-14 at Omaha (Neb.) Country Club, and the 2014 championship will be played July 10-13 at Oak Tree National Club in Edmond, Okla.

Source: USGA

Ralph Lauren Magazine: Global Golf

Yas Links (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)

He is credited with creating some of the most enduring and iconic golf courses, places like Kingsbarns in Scotland, Verdura in Sicily, and the Grove in England. Now, American architect Kyle Phillips has trained his gaze on the Middle East, designing Yas Links, a course that is being lauded as one of the world’s best. Featuring a collection of memorable holes, including a pair of waterside par 3s on the back nine, this demanding, 7,394-yard par 72 made Golf World’s Top 100 Golf Courses in the World for 2011. Stretching along three kilometers of Persian Gulf coastline, with nine holes fronting it, this course boasts more than 100 bunkers and endless links-style panoramas.

A longtime contributor to RL Magazine, Farhad Heydari is the international managing editor at Centurion and Departures magazines for Europe, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America.


PGA Sweden National, Links

So much has been said and written about the transformation of Kingsbarns in Scotland from ploughed fields into stunning linksland, that the development team at PGA of Sweden National could have identified architect Kyle Phillips with a Google search for ‘turning featureless farmland into great links golf.

However, we can be pretty sure this wasn’t the case, as it was only after Phillips had been engaged that a plot of featureless farmland near Malmo in the south of Sweden was chosen as the site for the PGA’s impressive new golf facility. Identifying an architect early in the development process is an approach that Phillips has championed in a previous edition of Golf Course Architecture (see GCA 2, p52), arguing that the architect’s expertise can be employed for identifying the site’s suitability for development, with a view to saving costs and minimising development time.

Phillips’ Kingsbarns has been one of the success stories of modern golf development. High rankings aside, it is an aesthetic delight. There are few better examples of a course that appears to have been crafted by nature, whereas every contour was in fact the work of architect and construction team.
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‘It’s Time to Buy Gold’

Kyle Phillips is the creator of Kingsbarns, The Grove and many of the world’s finest golf courses in 20 countries. Writing here for GBD, he believes the golf development industry has only itself to blame for many of the current ills, but feels with the right development model, the golf business can still succeed in a challenging environment.

While historians will describe autumn 2008 as the beginning of the current economic crisis, they will only be describing the moment in time when we realized that we were sick. The virus was in our system long before. Sure, we were warned by a brave few that we were on the brink, but we did not want to believe them. Only after several “too big to fail” companies failed, and the markets tumbled, did we realize we had all caught the flu.

The golf industry is not immune either. Alarming numbers of “too big to fail” residential golf communities are on the ropes, being taken over by banks, or being ploughed under. In Dubai, not even the marketing brand of Tiger Woods has been enough to make the development sell.

But the problems we face today within the real estate development sector of the golf industry did not begin recently. This virus has been building up in our golf industry bloodstream for over four decades. It was in this period that golf started to become more incorporated in residential communities. Often the developers did not play or understand much about the game, but they did know that with a golf course, they could sell real estate for a premium. Unknowingly at the time, the real estate development industry began redefining the ‘essentials’ of the modern championship course for the golf industry.
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Morocco & a Kingdom of Golf

“…AI Maaden, a high-end developer of golf resorts, who have commissioned Kyle Phillips, arguably one of the hottest designer of the modern era to take on the task of making their course a Moroccan star.”

THE FIRST PORT OF CAll FOR OUR BYE-DAY MOROCCAN golf trip is the Palmeraie Golf Palace & Resort, an oasis of luxury and refinement nestled in the heart of a lush, cool palm grove ten minutes from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech. This exquisite property is richly decorated in intricate Moorish designs that feature large archways, opulent furnishings and a decor in rich earth tones. After checking in we are asked to make ourselves comfortable on a collection of carpets and cushions by a water fountain in the tiled foyer area.

Before long, resident tea-maker Mr Aziz Igouzoulen appears through an archway wearing a flowing white robe and a maroon fez hat, carrying a silver tray with an elegant metal teapot packed with fresh mint leaves, tea and sugar. After the tea has brewed for a few minutes, Aziz makes a spectacle of pouring the fragrant golden liquid from a great height into the small decorative glasses. With a grin wider than Tiger Woods after winning a major, he hands us the tea, overflowing with the delicious aroma of fresh Moroccan mint and says, “Welcome to Marrakech and I hope you play some good golf.”
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So, who should design your golf course?

Corporate Golf World

So, who should design your golf course…Signature designer or course architect…A Nicklaus or a Kyle Phillips? James Norman investigates the very different benefits each brings to a course design project.

When Mark McCormack started to turn Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player into major companies in their own right, one key element of that strategy was a golf design division. It started a trend that today means you can play a Ballesteros, an Els, a Faldo, a Norman, a Montgomerie and even a Woosnam design. Tiger’s first course is only a few years away in Dubai. Read More…

Q & A with Kyle Phillips

Golf Course News International 2002-2003
By Trevor Ledger

Kyle Phillips spent 16 years with Robert Trent Jones II before creating his own practice. His first course in his own name is the highly acclaimed World Top 50 course, the Kingsbarns Links near St Andrews. This summer he opens another spectacular new layout: The Grove in Hertfordshire. Trevor Ledger talks with him.

GCNI: 16 years with RTJII. What prompted you to branch out on your own?

KDP: Working with Bob and his team was really great and I could have stayed there forever. I just felt the time for me to start my own firm was right. I was 39 and our children were 9 and 12 years old. If I had waited, it would have become more difficult for them to relocate.

GCNI: Kingsbarns was a great opportunity for you, wasn’t it?

KDP: Indeed it was. To have such as strong location as St. Andrews and the natural coast line along the North Sea provided a good foundation. My good friend, Richard Wax, with whom I had worked closely during our years with RTJII, introduced me to the site. The original developers were looking to sell. I was then able to bring together an American developer for whom I had already designed a course, his financial partner and Southern Golf, the contractor with whom I had an excellent relationship during the construction of the Wisley Golf Club. This formed a solid team.
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Kyle Phillips Heads up Design Team

Bunkered Magazine
By Brian Donald

Member of the American Society for golf architects and creator of the impressive Kingsbarns Golf Links near St. Andrews. Kyle Phillips is delighted to continue his working relationship with Scotland and Linkslands. Read More…