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Stonehill Opens in Bangkok, Thailand

The much anticipated Stonehill, designed by Kyle Phillips opened for play in July of 2022.  The course features beautiful rolling terrain, specimen “Rain Trees”, and a stream that plays a strategic role on 7 holes.  The new course is set to host the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok on October 7-10.    

Par 4 – 18th Green


Par 4 – 10th Hole



Par 5 – 17th Green



South Cape Ranked #9 – World’s 100 Greatest Courses


Golf Digest ranks South Cape Owners Club #9

World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses


The most dramatic rise on our 2020 list among 21st-century designs. Six-year-old South Cape Owners Club in South Korea, which debuted in 2018 at No. 49, moves up 40 spots to No. 9 this year.
The design by Kyle Phillips (who also has No. 27 Kingsbarns and No. 48 Yas Links on our list, and has remodeling credit at No. 7 Morfontaine and No. 38 Valderrama) runs along the rocky cliffs of an ocean shoreline. It features two par 3s over ocean coves and another that plays out to an intimidatingly narrow green on a peninsula. It’s rugged and stunning and it’s conceivable that it could contend for the No. 1 spot in our next world ranking.
The collection of par 3’s at South Cape Owners Club is tough to beat.

 The par 3 6th – South Cape Owners Club


 The par 3 14th – South Cape Owners Club


 The par 3 16th – South Cape Owners Club

Golf Magazine Top 100 Courses in World – Cal Club Ranked #50


Congratulations to California Golf Club of San Francisco on moving up to #50 in Golf Magazine’s 2020 Top 100 Courses in the World.

50. California Club Of San Francisco

South San Francisco, CA A.V Macan, 1926/Alister MacKenzie, 1928/Kyle Phillips, 2007

Firm playing surfaces elevate any design but add in a great design and wind and you have the makings of a world top-50 course. The difficult decision to shut the course in 2007 and rebuild it according to a thoughtful Master Plan carried out by Kyle Phillips and his team has proven to be a runaway success. (Up 23)

“Star treatment” – Hillcrest Country Club

from Golf Course Architecture Magazine – Issue 58 – October 2019

Star treatment

Behind an inconspicuous gateway across the street from Fox Studios, a Hollywood star has been under the knife. Toby Ingleton discovers more

The drivable par 4 11th at Hillcrest


Groucho Marx made an exception to his own rule – “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member” – for Hillcrest Country Club. Established in 1920 with eighteen holes laid out by Willie Watson, Hillcrest has long been counted alongside the courses at Riviera, LACC and Bel-Air as one of Los Angeles’ finest, and is home club to many of the city’s leading lights.

Occupying 141 acres just south of Beverly Hills, the club’s original front nine sat in a valley that runs east of a hill on which most of the back nine played. This combination of terrain afforded Watson nice elevation changes, as well as long views towards Los Angeles and the surrounding oil wells.

Like most top-end US clubs, Hillcrest prides itself on pristine playing surfaces, and there is an expectation that agronomic improvements will be undertaken on a periodic basis. In the mid-2010s the club was faced with a number of deferred maintenance needs, including a new irrigation system, and they were also on the hunt for a new architect. Considerable research was conducted by the greens committee at this time, and a strong proposal was received to re-work the greens and bunkers by an architect who had recently done excellent work at a nearby country club. However, before approving the greens committee recommendations, the club’s board asked general manager Miles Tucker and director of golf John McMullen to help provide alternatives to the proposal on-hand. “We knew that water management strategies needed to be central to any significant investment into the course, and also that we had opportunities to improve both our practice facilities and overall golf experience,” says Tucker. “So we worked to identify the delta between what was being proposed in terms of maintaining the existing facility, and what we really wanted, which was a facility that would differentiate us from the other clubs in LA and help us to continue to enhance our reputation as one of the best family-oriented clubs on the West coast.”

The par 3 14th and par 4 16th


The club invited several architects to pitch for the work and ultimately selected California-based Kyle Phillips. “We felt that the customised design approach Kyle takes on each property he is given would create something uniquely appropriate for our site,” says McMullen. “We were also really impressed with his commitment to his design philosophies. It can be all too easy to bow to some of the many voices that have an opinion on what should be done, but Kyle showed a clear belief in what he felt would prepare us best for the next 100 years.”

Phillips’ proposal involved combining the valley and hill experiences into each nine and a mix of original, familiar and new holes. “Six holes remain in their original location but are substantially improved. Another six use existing hole corridors. And there are six completely new holes,” says Phillips.

The key to the new routing lies within the integration of two areas that had historically been used as turf nurseries. “These areas had been hidden from the course for decades by large shrubs, so many members did not even know the land existed,” says Phillips’ senior design associate Mark Thawley.

Both areas now occupy prime locations on the course, including the new par three fourth hole, which enjoys a panoramic view of the Los Angeles skyline and the Hollywood Hills.

The par 3 4th with the Hollywood Hills as a backdrop


By bringing these areas into play and being more efficient with the routing in general, Phillips was able to convert the land previously occupied by the old netted range, the par-four tenth and a portion of the par-five eleventh into the world-class practice facilities that the club desired. In turn that freed up the site of the old driving range tees – in prime view from the dining area – for the new eighteenth green. Alongside that are tees for a completely new first hole, which runs parallel to the eighteenth.

“The new range is still convenient to the clubhouse and first tee,” says Phillips. “Occupying nearly six acres, members can now hit shots over 300 yards without the need for safety netting. A five-hole par-three course – ‘The Five’ – has been laid out adjacent to the range and is focused on family play and fun.” Between the range and short course is a new teaching centre designed by Hawkins & Marshall, who also created a new halfway house.

Tucker says that while members will coo over the new practice facilities and guests will rave over the halfway house, real golf aficionados will be “stunned” by the new course. “The memorability of the new course is defined by the par threes, which are all iconic,” says Tucker. From the new 155-yard second, with its sunken green, to the massive Biarritz green at the twelfth, which plays 260 yards from the back tees, Tucker says all the par threes are great fun to play.

The redesigned course provides a varied test. “Par fours range from 290 to 495 yards, so – like Riviera – will test every club in the bag,” says Tucker. “Three of the par fives are wonderfully strategic; challenging to reach in two. The eighteenth can go to 600 yards if required, culminating in one of the most stunning green complexes on the course.”

The par 5 13th


Even though the total number of trees is the same, Phillips has opened up interior views, with many fairways now interconnected, separated by bunkers and stands of trees. “We put a lot of time and effort into tree management,” says Tucker. “Undesired species have been removed, beautiful specimens have been relocated and new trees have been planted on the perimeter for increased set-backs and privacy. The course has a much more open feeling.”

“Walking was also a priority for the membership, so the green-to-tee relationship has been improved and grass walk-offs added,” says Phillips. This relationship is particularly evident at the start of each nine, with the back tees for both the first and tenth connected to the practice putting greens.

With the project complete and reopening scheduled for October, Tucker highlights the “incredible partners” that he, golf director John McMullen and the club’s chairman of the project committee Arnold Rosenstein have worked with. In addition to Thawley, Phillips’ team included on-site design representative and shaping specialist Dave Smith. “In addition to shaping a stunning golf course and practice area, Dave was quick to bring any opportunities or concerns to the team’s attention, rapidly proving himself to be an integral part of the broader project team.” says Tucker.

Not to be confused with Dave, David Smith from Golf Projects International played a key role in managing the project from initial permitting to completion. Landscapes Unlimited was the general contractor, Brent Harvey designed the irrigation system, and planting design was by Ken Alperstein of Pinnacle Design Company.

The project wasn’t without its challenges – not least that rainfall was double the historic averages during the year-long project – but Tucker is delighted with the end result. “We had very high expectations, but they have been far exceeded. Our members are absolutely blown away by the changes, and Hillcrest’s golf brand is set to really grow.”


How Kyle Phillips created a world-class course from land deemed ‘unsuitable for golf’

By Kelsey Lee

Sunset over South Cape Owner's Club [image: Joann Dost]

Sunset over South Cape Owner’s Club [image: Joann Dost]

Namhae, South Korea – South Cape Owners Club is the innovation of business mogul JB Chung. Even when others said it was impossible, Chung remained optimistic – he had visionary Golf Course Architect Kyle Phillips in his square. “It seems other designers felt the land was too challenging to achieve a top quality golf experience,” says Kyle. “Mr. Chung believed the property was so stunningly beautiful, he was willing to take on this challenge.”

Kyle Phillips designs world-class golf courses maintaining the natural elements of the existing property, as if a golfer happened upon a piece of land that is perfectly fit for a round of golf. With South Cape Owner’s Club, “the original conception of the course involved considerable earth moving” Kyle recounts. “When I came in the picture, I was able to reduce the earth moving by roughly 40% from what the prior plans had called for—which not only saved a significant amount of money, but also allowed me to save more of the natural vegetation.” In areas where earthmoving occurred, thousands of trees were transplanted allowing this world-class course to fit naturally on its landscape.

The transformation of Holes 12 and 13

When I asked Kyle how he felt so confident in this new direction for the land, he laughed and said, “It’s just what I do. It is hard to explain. I knew the course would turn out well and this would be a good golf course, but the challenge was always to make it great – the best. To get it there, I just worked with the topography and thought out of the box.”

With South Cape Owner’s Club already being recognized as Korea’s #1 course and ranking in the world’s Top 100 Courses, it is safe to say Kyle was successful.

Kyle humbly credits his success at South Cape Owner’s Club to playing to the land’s strengths, and maintaining the natural features of the landscape while turning down the volume. “Not only is the design of each hole important, but when you finish a hole you want it to have a nice connection to the next tee”, says Phillips. “We worked hard to create transitions throughout the course that would allow the players to get lost in the game and the beauty of their surroundings.” A feat Kyle Phillips makes sound all too easy.


Perhaps, Fergal O’Leary, a panelist for Golf Magazine and Golf digest (as well as the youngest person to play the World’s Top 100 Ranked courses), most elegantly remarked on South Cape when he said:

“I never thought I’d find a golf course more stunning that Cypress Point or Cape Kidnappers. I never thought I’d play a golf course more impressive than Oakmont or Royal Melbourne (West). I never thought I’d experience a feeling of privilege more than Muirfield or Shinnecock Hills. I never thought I’d play a piece of property more remarkable than Augusta National or St. Andrews. What Kyle Phillips created at South Cape makes a lot of old classics shiver in their boots. The world needs to brace itself as this whole experience takes you to unimaginable levels of euphoria.”

Quite remarkable words, for land once given up on for golf. However, after Kingsbarns in St. Andrews, Yas Links in Abu Dhabi, Cal Club in San Francisco and now South Cape in South Korea, it seems not much is impossible for Kyle Phillips.

South Cape Owner's Club Hole 6 [image: Joann Dost]

South Cape Owner’s Club Hole 6 [image: Joann Dost]

2015 Overall Winner IAGTO Sustainability Awards

Dundonald Links

Dundonald Links honoured to win coveted Sustainability Award

GEO Certified™ Dundonald Links, Scotland, is delighted to announce it has been named overall winner in the 2015 International Association of Golf Tour Operators’ (IAGTO) Sustainability Awards due to exceptional management standards within golf’s sustainability issues – nature, water, energy, supply chain, pollution control and community.

The IAGTO report stated that Dundonald Links, near the legendary golfing town of Troon in Ayrshire, had demonstrated a deep, integrated commitment throughout all aspects of sustainability since opening in 2003 and is now recognised among the most progressive clubs in the world with its dedication to environmental and community initiatives.

IAGTO also highlighted the many activities embedded in the culture of Dundonald Links including Zero Waste, numerous and specific biodiversity projects, habitat improvements, ‘outdoor classrooms’ for local schools, campaigns and partnerships with a large variety of local and national organisations, and public nature trails with education boards.

The announcement was made at the 15th annual IAGTO Awards Ceremony held on 30th October at Villa Erba, Lake Como, Italy.

Earlier this year, Dundonald Links was awarded the title of UK Environmental Golf Course of the Year 2014, in addition to becoming GEO Certified™ – a symbol of great golf environments worldwide. In 2015 it will be proud host to The Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open presented by EventScotland and in 2016 will be host venue to the Ladies British Amateur Open.

Guy Redford, Director of Golf, Dundonald Links commented: Dundonald Links is honoured to receive this award and to be recognised for playing its part in protecting the natural world. Through our team’s passion and dedication to environmental sustainability, the Club has in return become more efficient and commercially viable. In addition, our partnerships with local and national organisations and, in particular, within the local community have been extremely rewarding, supporting education, building relationships and opening doors to new opportunities.

Source:  Dundonald Links

Murtoli Golf Links

Murtoli Golf Links

Alongside thousand proposed activities, such as beach walks, sea fishing, hunting or horse riding, golf lives similar to any other.
Totally natural, the famous designer Kyle Phillips was able to enroll in the natural contours of the land.
Unique with 12 holes, the course is open to everyone, young and old, beginners and accomplished golfer.

Source:  Vimeo

Golf in the Kingdom and Beyond

Kyle Phillips

ALTHOUGH HIS OFFICE IS LOCATED in Granite Bay, California (a suburb of Sacramento), course architect Kyle Phillips has worked extensively around the world. His designs can be found in Austria, Sweden, South Korea, Scotland, and Morocco, among other countries. Troon Golf & Travel spoke with him in England, where he was visiting his 18-hole creation at The Grove in Hertfordshire.

The Grove, your first English design, opened in 2003. What can you tell us about it?

People who come to The Grove for the day never feel that they have been slighted. The condition of the golf course is always superb, as is the service from the moment people arrive to the moment they leave. For me, it was gratifying to work with the owners and it was a seamless transition when we handed the course over to the operations side of things. In this case, we have had a real consistency of ownership and philosophy, which is always a real benefit to how the final product is received. I have great memories of designing and building this course and it is great fun to carry on working with a lot of the same faces who were here when we opened over 10 years ago.

You’ve said you replicated different types of landforms at The Grove to make it reminiscent of classic English courses. Explain.

This was a classic English parkland site. When you look across the landscape here with the longer horizon lines and you walk through the holes, you start to recognize some interesting landforms, some more dramatic than others. These begin to affect how you think about strategy on a particular hole. So, at a macro scale, the course looks rather sympathetic, but at a micro scale, it really takes on an interesting personality. And part of creating this was remaining responsive to the integrity of the historic landscape that was around it and, at the same time, achieving a great golf experience.

Do you think The Grove model, whereby a premier service and product is offered on the basis of pay and play, should be used more elsewhere?

This model is really unique. As nongolfers, the owners come at it from a different angle and this tends to be where a lot of the good ideas come from; people who are not so deeply connected into golf that they don’t just see the forest but the individual trees. They saw a gap in the marketplace and appreciated the business side. Not having members allowed them to accommodate hotel guests and the corporate market whenever they want to play. Of course, if you have members, they want to play on a Saturday morning and at all of the prime tee times. The Grove model eliminates this conflict by creating a club experience in terms of quality and conditioning, but available to everyone.

People have been talking about controlling equipment for a long time now. Do you think we’re any closer to this and, as an architect, do you think this would benefit the game?

I would love to see some controls because I really believe the game should be more about shot-making. But you can read books that are 100 years old and you’ll see discussions about the ball and how far it was going and how equipment was affecting the game. Even in my short time, I remember Jack Nicklaus hitting it 267 yards from the tee and everyone was aghast at how long he was hitting it. You look at that today and that kind of driving distance is laughable, but that’s simply due to the benefits of technology. As an architect, I have my own views, but my job is to respond to technology on the design side. I have seen an increase in what is considered to be a championship course from the back tees, but people playing from the forward tees expect the same length course as we had 30 years ago. This makes it more difficult to create a course that is playable and enjoyable for the full spectrum of abilities. But this is something that we, as architects, have got to rise to and get better at in order to respond to trends.

Can you, as a golf course architect, do anything to counter slow play?

I think there are things we could do. There is an issue with people trying to learn the game who go to championship- level courses without the required experience. I equate it to skiing. If you take someone who has never skied and send them down a black diamond run, it won’t take long to realize they are not going to be successful. They need the bunny slopes, as do we in golf. We need shorter courses.

Can golf architecture help to enhance player retention?

Every time there is a shift in the economy, people feel like they need to be at work more, so the drop in golfers is just a natural result of the economy, as much as anything else. As the economy stabilizes, people are coming back to playing golf. Nowadays there is also so much distraction from other sports, and there is also the whole world of technology that people can live in and not think about playing sport. Time is precious, so we have to ask, what can golf do to attract people to the game? We have looked inside the industry for those solutions; we’ve heard a lot discussed about shorter courses and par-3 courses within existing golf operations, for example. However, I tend to think that the solution may come from the outside with a different form of golf that becomes the gateway. We are seeing that with screen golf and video golf in some of the Asian countries and in the UK, and those are ways for people to spend a couple of hours with a golf club in their hands and perhaps get excited about golf, and we need that.

Source:  Troon Golf Magazine

Kingsbarns to host 2017 Women’s British Open


Kingsbarns Golf Links is delighted to announce its selection to host the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2017. Located near St Andrews, the highly rated links course has been a part of the men’s European Tour annually for 13 years earning a reputation as one of the most admired venues on the circuit. This will, however, be the first time Kingsbarns will host a Major Championship.

“We are honoured to host the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2017,” said Alan Hogg, chief executive at Kingsbarns. “We have welcomed tour events to Kingsbarns for many years but this will be on a different scale. The prestige of the Women’s Open is growing every year. More importantly, seeing the very best lady golfers competing over the Kingsbarns links should be very exciting. We are extremely proud to have been selected to host such a quality event.”

Consistently ranked as one of the top golf courses in the world, Kingsbarns has co-hosted the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship for over a decade. During this time the course has won praise from touring pros and celebrities alike who admire the traditional Scottish links design with views of the North Sea from every hole.

“What I like is the risk and reward,” said Paul Casey, during the 2012 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. “It is a very enjoyable golf course to play because you can make birdies, you can make eagles but there is a lot of danger out there as well. You’ve got a mix of the fun stuff and the tough stuff wrapped in a package which is beautiful.”

As Hogg explained, however, the Ricoh Women’s British Open will provide an entirely new test for the world’s best players when the Open arrives in Fife in 2017. “Because of the round-robin format of the Dunhill, the course has to be set up identically over the three days, which includes weather-tolerant pin placements,” he said. “During the Ricoh Women’s British Open, the full range of hole locations can be utilised on Kingsbarns’ large and undulating greens.”

The Ricoh Women’s British Open will also offer television viewers a first look at a closing stretch that includes some of Kingsbarns’ most picturesque holes. The challenging par 5 12th along 550 yards of rugged East Neuk coastline, the stunning par 3 15th, requiring a tee shot across an expanse of the North Sea, or the challenge of the 17th have not been featured before on television. “The closing holes will provide the perfect setting for an exciting Sunday finish,” said Hogg. “We can’t wait!”

Kingsbarns is regarded as one of the world’s best courses holding the top spot in GolfWeek’s Top 100 modern courses in the UK and ranked 18th in Golf Digest’s Top 100 Best Courses Outside the US. Art Dunkley, director of Kingsbarns Golf Links said: “People have said many flattering things about our course and facilities since we opened in 2000 but being selected to host our first Major Championship is perhaps the greatest affirmation of all. Our objective has been to create one of the world’s best links golf experiences and deliver it to our guests with a personal touch. That is something our management and staff members feel very strongly about. The honour of hosting the Ricoh Women’s British Open, I believe, results directly from our meticulous focus on providing excellent golf course conditioning and individual customer service every day.”

The statement was endorsed by Shona Malcolm, the LGU’s CEO, who highlighted the significance of the selection. “We believe Kingsbarns will be a wonderful addition to the Women’s Open rota. Their excitement at hosting their first Major will make the 2017 edition very special and we look forward to a long relationship with them,” she commented. “Kingsbarns fits perfectly with our commitment of ensuring the world’s best women players showcase their talents on the world’s best golf courses.”

Paul Bush from Event Scotland added: “Bringing Major Championships to Scotland, the Home of Golf, outlines our ambition to host the biggest events in world golf and the addition of the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2017 at Kingsbarns further strengthens our envied portfolio of golf tournaments in 2014 and beyond. This is also a great compliment to Kingsbarns Golf Links and shows just how established the venue has become on the global golf map.”

After successfully hosting final qualifying for the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2013 when initial assessments were made by the Ladies Golf Union, Kingsbarns is now part of an established Open rota.

Source:  Kingsbarns

Spectacular South Cape Golf Course Debuts in South Korea


Copyright 2013 Joann Dost
The 16th hole at South Cape Owners Club reflects the natural elements that create a memorable golf experience.

SOUTH GYEONGSANG PROVINCE, South Korea (November 13, 2013) – The spectacular new South Cape Owners Club, nestled along the rugged coastline of Namhae Island in southeast Korea, has made its much-anticipated debut.

Designed by internationally acclaimed golf architect Kyle Phillips, South Cape’s dramatic setting and ocean views on all 18 holes have positioned it to become the premier golf course in the country and one of the most significant new golf courses in the world.

The golf course is the centerpiece of a luxury golf resort community created by South Korea clothing magnate Jae Bong Chung, the owner and visionary behind the project. South Cape includes a sophisticated boutique hotel (40 suites) and spa, as well as 130 privately owned luxury sea-view villas.

In addition to resort play, South Cape will offer club membership privileges to villa owners. The par-72 course stretches to 6685 meters (7,313 yards) from the championship tees. There are also four additional sets of tees, offering fantastic views of the sea and neighboring islands.

“When you come to South Cape, you know you have arrived at a special place,” Chung said following the recent grand opening celebration. “It is a pure pleasure for the senses, with the sights, the smells and sounds of the sea all around you. There is not a golf experience anywhere that will surpass the quality of South Cape.”

The dramatic coastline topography at South Cape – “where the mountains meet the sea,” Phillips says – provides a considerably different landscape than more conventional seaside links courses.

“We incorporated a links feel into what is not a true links landscape,” said the California-based Phillips, who has designed award-winning golf courses world-wide, including Kingsbarns Golf Links in St. Andrews, Scotland and Yas Links in Abu Dhabi.

The bentgrass greens at South Cape offer subtle undulations and contours that create suitable hole locations for everyday play, yet provide ample positions that can easily meet the needs of championship competition. South Cape has a course rating of 75.2 and slope of 138 from the championship tees. The turf for the tees and fairways is bluegrass, while the rough consists of a blend of fine fescues.

Dramatic granite outcroppings accent the seaside routing, where inland and coastline holes create a serene rhythm, but can be unforgiving to those who flirt with the edges of the golf course. South Cape offers variation and features memorable holes throughout, particularly on what Phillips calls “the promenade to the sea” that starts with the downhill par-5 11th hole and continues through the par-3 16th.

“There is a good variety of strategy through the course,” said Phillips, whose stylish bunkering replicates the natural outline of the island coast. “You can play bump-and-run shots, or you can be aggressive. There are multiple lines of play, depending on how you want to attack the golf course.”

“It is simply an amazing coastline,” Phillips said. “Every hole has a view of the sea, which comes into play on 8 holes. It is one of the most striking coastlines in golf.”

The remarkable collection of par 3s at South Cape is visually inspiring and strategically challenging. Most notable is a breathtaking pair on the back nine – the 136-meter (148 yards) 14th hole, on a spectacular peninsula setting reminiscent of the famed 7th at Pebble Beach Golf Links; and the 204-meter (223 yards) 16th, which plays cliff-to-cliff across a cove, evoking the spirit of the legendary 16th at Cypress Point Club.

“As you walk the course, the ever-present beauty of South Cape is all around you,” Phillips said. “It is a golf experience that transcends shot-making.”

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