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Golfmagic Plays Dundonald Links

One of the most interesting aspects of my round was that I found the fairways here the most lust of any links I have played in recent memory.

Feeling a tad nervous on the first, I was more than happy to pipe a drive down the fairway and past the hungry bunker down the left side. With a tricky approach into a raised, undulating green, I took my four and ran!

I then moved onto the dogleg second, which asked for a 3-wood and a mid-iron approach to a green nestled amongst the dunes, shortly before tackling the relatively simple par-5 third and 175-yard par-3 fourth.

After a little rest bite at the par-5 fifth, I was required to be back on my guard at the second of the par 3s at the sixth. Playing 157 yards to a raised green slanting from back to front, with a wee burn running up the left hand side of the green, there probably isn’t a more exciting hole on the course. Terrific short hole.

The par-4 seventh and eight holes offer reasonable birdie chances and you’ll likely need to convert them before heading into the ninth and its index 2 rating. A blind tee shot is negotiated to a rolling fairway and a second shot to a false fronted and semi-blind green. Tricky.

After my second bacon roll of the morning at the turn, another dogleg lurks at the 10th requiring a driver and long iron to a narrow entrance but with a back stop on offer two well thought out shots should result in a par.

The par-3 11th is everything a classic course should have – a par-3 under 150yards! At 120 yards this fitted my bill with a wedge to a shallow green that had a run off long in the Donald Ross mould. Find the bunker at the bottom of the run off and you can forget about making par.

The 12th continues to the Firth of Clyde with the back drop of the Island of Arran and an ample time for my solitary ‘wee birdie’ of the round at the shortest of the par fours.

From there on in, 13th has a fantastic double-tier green with a good four-foot step in it that allows for a reasonable birdie chance – that is if you have avoided both the railway track from the tee and make the right level of the green on your approach.

The railway track also hugs the right hand side of a roller coaster of a fairway at the 16th, played into a narrow, two-tier green. A good drive still requires a hybrid into the dancefloor.

And to close, you have to negotiate a very tricky par-5 18th, particularly when it comes to the second shot lay-up, which must negotiate cross bunkers aplenty. The approach isn’t that much easier, either, with another one of those wee burns located to the front left.

Golfmagic Verdict

Whilst a driver friendly course in the mould of Phillips’ other UK creations, the defining feature of Dundonald Links is its greens.

Generous in size and in some cases three clubs deep that requires you to both club well and focus on staying on the right side of the pin. Definitely worth taking a caddie if you can.

There are a variety of par-3s at Dundonald that would befit any of its neighbouring trophy courses and the par 5s require plenty of thought on the lay up shots which I was helped admirably on the day by my surprising fresh laddie of a caddie.

Having ‘Hammy’ on the bag that seemed like a joke for every lost ball added to what was an overall enriching golfing experience on this hallowed stretch of Ayrshire links.

Philips has used his vivid imagination and the light, sandy soil to build a traditional 7,100-yard masterpiece that lingers in the memory long after a visit is over.

Love Links Golf? Visit Dundonald Links

Source:  Golf Magic

Sicily: Offers You Can’t Refuse

verdura

By:  Kingdom Magazine

Leading the way in southwest Sicily, near the port of Sciacca and the ruins of an ancient Greek temple at Agrigento, is Sir Rocco Forte’s luxurious Verdura Golf & Spa Resort. Opened in 2009, Verdura is home to a hotel with 203 bedrooms, a spa, three restaurants and two 18-hole courses—the East and West, both designed by American architect Kyle Phillips, creator of Kingsbarns Golf Links near St Andrews on the east coast of Scotland. Meandering from mountain foothills through olive, lemon and orange groves down to the Mediterranean, these layouts, a composite of which hosted the European Tour’s Sicilian Open last year, are a joy to behold, and play.

The West incorporates more coastal land, but a number of its early holes stretch consecutively along the eastern boundary and a few fairways are a little tight given the exposed nature of the site. The beachside holes are its star attraction—the first glimpse of the sea comes at the 8th and 9th before a four-hole encore from the 15th. It’s these final holes with their uninterrupted views that really steal the show. The 16th and 18th are beautiful two-shotters, the 18th routed right along the shoreline, while the 15th and 17th are short holes dominated by watery backdrops. There are other standouts as well, including the strategic par-5 4th and the strong par-4 5th, where the approach is played partly across a pronounced natural depression. The first coastal hole, the two-shot 8th, is also outstanding.

The more undulating East is equally memorable. Its finishing holes don’t have quite the same glamour, especially the front-nine par-5s that link the central area to the southern beach holes, but there are more directional changes here and plenty of design surprises as well. Highlights include the short par-4 3rd, early water holes at the 5th and 6th, each with stunning outlooks, the intimidating ridge-top par-3 12th and the semi-sunken 13th green. From there the course turns seaward. Both the 14th and 15th are long holes that plummet across glorious linksy ground while the 16th is a short hole played into a wickedly shallow target. The finishing duo are particularly strong—the penultimate hole rises gently into the foot of a Sicilian hillside and the breathtaking par-4 18th crashes from an elevated tee right along the craggy coastline.

Source:  Kingdom Magazine – Spring 2013 – Issue 25

Canadian Golf Magazine Course Review: California Golf Club of San Francisco

California Golf Club of SF (7)

The California Club of San Francisco was once considered to fall into the second tier of San Francisco golf courses behind the likes of San Francisco Golf Club, Olympic Club or Cypress a couple of hours down the road. Originally laid out by Willie Locke, once construction began in 1924, A.V. Macan (Victoria Golf Club, Royal Colwood) came in and is considered the architect of note.

In 1927, Alister MacKenzie was commissioned to redesign all of the bunkers. From that point on, the Cal Club’s reputation started to take off. Known for his exquisite skill set when it came to bunkering, MacKenzie’s touch brought life to the fairways of the Cal Club.

Once again, through the 1960s, yet another golf course architect was brought in to make changes to the course. This time, it was Robert Trent Jones Sr. Most of his changes no longer exist because in 2005, Kyle Phillips was brought in to bring the Cal Club’s golden age architecture back to life. The goal was to make the front nine as good as the back and bring a consistent feel to the golf course. So out went the Jones bunkers, in came some new holes, a gorgeous restoration of the MacKenzie style bunkers and the dramatic flare and stunning visuals of MacKenzie.

Now, the Cal Club may very well be one of the best golf courses in America if not the world.

Apart from the wonderful bunkering, the routing really sets the Cal Club apart. Taking advantage of some beautiful, tumbling terrain, width off the tee and the lack of rough create strategy and nuances that keep the course fresh and make every hole interesting. From the first hole, a gentle par-5 opener with one of the better green complexes on the course, to the par-3 sixth hole, a golfer would never guess that by the time they reach the green on the mid-length par-3, with its green falling away gently from the tee, that they would have climbed to one of the highest points on the golf course and what must be some 150 feet of elevation change from the first tee.

On the entire course, there is not a single weak hole…just strong and stronger holes. Even on holes like the second, a new Phillips hole where the land is less interesting, a great green complex saves the day and turns what would be a somewhat dull hole into a very good one. The third, also a new hole, is a par-4 which begins with an elevated tee-shot, wraps itself around an incredible assembly of bunkers and finishes on a beautiful pushed up green.

The sixth hole is the first of what is a great collection of par-3s — a mid-length three shot hole with a green that falls away from the tee. The bunkers short tell golfers “don’t miss here,” but a closely shaved bank on the back of the green awaits those who go long.

The seventh is another of the new Phillips holes and a stunner. A true cape hole with a hazard that comes into play from both the tee and on the approach, the peninsula like green location is gorgeous and the tee-shot tempts you to cut off more than you can chew.

From eight to fourteen, Cal Club may have few matches in the world. Without going into too much detail, it’s simply a great stretch. The eighth is a beautiful par-3 with an interesting knoll front right which bounds golf balls on to the green, the ninth is a bold choice in routing with a blind tee shot up and over a ridge, the eleventh is a shorter par-4 sweeping left to a green location that is second to none, twelve is a breathtaking par-3 playing from a tee set beneath the clubhouse to a green set on a ridge line and guarded by some of the more spectacular bunkering on the course and so on.

Saving you the details of a hole by hole description, it’s enough to say that the eleventh green isn’t the only thing that’s second to none about the Cal Club…the entire course is more of the same. Kyle Phillips has done a wonderful job of restoring what was and is one of the best golf courses to be found anywhere. Width, beautiful bunkering, smart and strong routing, a spectacular property and bold greens all add up to one hec of a course — a remarkable example of golden age architecture.

BEST PAR-3 – 12th
BEST PAR-4 – Too many
BEST PAR-5 – 1st for its green
BEST VIEW – From behind the 6th green
UNDER-APPRECIATED – Course conditions which play firm and fast and make the course so good
LOVE – The feel and look of EVERYTHING
UNEXPECTED – Not necessarily unexpected, but the bunkering is exquisite

Author:  Frank MastroSource:  Canadian Golf Magazine

 

Planet Golf: California Golf Club of San Francisco Review

Cal Club of SF

One of the state’s most prestigious golfing institutions, the California Golf Club of San Francisco was originally designed by A.V. Macan in 1925, and rebunkered a couple of years later by the great Dr Alister MacKenzie. MacKenzie’s original bunker shapes here were every bit as rugged and impressive as those at Pasatiempo and Cypress Point, but over time the hazards had lost their dramatic appearance and in the 1960s the layout was further compromised when the club lost part of its land for a road expansion. Technology also hurt the Cal Club, as the dimensions of their internal driving range became less adequate the longer the ball flew, and trees and containment mounding was thought necessary to protect golfers on the course.

The problems of deterioration were to be addressed in the early 2000s by a redesign program that caught the attention of prominent architects throughout the United States. Kyle Phillips was awarded the job, largely on the back of a radical plan to re-route the front nine, build three new holes and shift the driving range away from the clubhouse. The MacKenzie look and influence had been eroded over time and Phillips, while also creating new holes, was determined to make the Cal Club again look and feel like a MacKenzie course. His plan allowed the holes the space and sense of grandeur they deserve, and by giving breathing space to golf corridors and removing unnecessary trees the emphasis is again back on just how suitable this site is for great golf.

Unlike the nearby Olympic Club, which is essentially built on the side of a hill, Cal Club occupies erratically tumbling ground, the heavy slopes full of great natural movement and ideal for interesting golf. The rugged, naturalistic bunker shapes and restored green complexes work perfectly on this site, and give the impression that MacKenzie’s work here was never touched. That’s the biggest compliment anyone can pay Kyle Phillips regarding his work at Cal Club, that it all looks preserved from the MacKenzie plan of the 1920s.

The California Club of San Francisco is a great place for golf, and after years of darkness the club once again owns a genuine American classic. The golf holes are inviting, varied and original, the green surfaces beautifully pitched to accept well struck balls and the bunkers are strategically arranged and attractively constructed. Appointing Phillips to oversee this important program was a bold one, but the designer did a wonderful job here and the course is now once again heads and shoulders above better known San Francisco layouts like Harding Park and Olympic Lake.

By:  Darius Oliver

Kingsbarns Ranks 19th Overall in Architects’ Choice Top 100 Golf Courses

Kingsbarns

Congratulations to the exceptional team at Kingsbarns Golf Links receiving a top 20 ranking in Golf Course Architecture Architects’ Choice Top 100 Golf Courses!

Golf Course Architecture:

#19 Kingsbarns
Fife, Scotland
Kyle Phillips

“One of only three modern (post-1960) golf courses to make it into our Top 20, Kingsbarns stands alongside its historic neighbors as one of Scotland’s finest links experiences.”

Source:  Golf Course Architecture

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The Troon Golf Collection – The Grove

The Grove

When it comes to luxury golf hideaways in and around London, The Grove, which is managed by Troon Golf, certainly takes some beating. A Grade II listed mansion set on 300 acres of picturesque Hertfordshire countryside, The Grove boasts just about every facility, amenity and service you could expect of a 5* resort and its proximity to London makes it the ideal base for an extended British Golf Holiday as well as for a stay and play golf break.

With all on offer at this amazing venue, it comes as no surprise that The Grove has seen a long list of celebrity guests including the likes of Tiger Woods and even Queen Victoria enjoyed weekend breaks here. One thing’s for sure; if it’s good enough for a golfing royalty and actual royalty as well then it then it’s certainly good enough for us Weekend Warriors!

Here we take you on a fly by journey through some of the things on offer at London’s finest golfing retreat.

Location, location, location…

Situated in the beautiful county of Hertfordshire, just outside London, The Grove is one of the most luxurious and all encompassing golf resorts in England. As well as being great for a weekend getaway, The Grove is quite simply the perfect base for golfers from overseas who are looking to explore the golfing riches in and around The Big Smoke.

– Golf –

The Grove’s championship course, which was designed by Kyle Phillips, one of the foremost golf course architects of recent years, is the resort’s crown jewel. The course is kept in immaculate condition all year round and as there are no members; guests are assured to receive an incredibly warm welcome from staff who are very focused on customer service.

Kyle Philips’ edgy design makes a round of golf at The Grove a thrilling experience. As you can see from the picture above, your short game will have to be on song if you miss the greens with your approaches!

SOURCE:  Your Golf Travel

Traveling Life: Kyle Phillips

Yas Links

The American golf-course architect – who never travels without a pair of golf shoes in his luggage – tells Minty Clinch why Abu Dhabi’s Yas Links features among the favorites in his personal portfolio.

As a child Kyle Phillips played golf five times a week, a dedication that resulted in a handicap of two when he was 16. Instead of turning to the professional game, he signed up for a five-year program in landscape architecture at Kansas State University. His studies included golf-related courses and he developed a useful network of contacts in the industry. When he graduated in 1981, he joined Robert Trent Jones Jr’s west-coast office at Palo Alto as vice president and golf architect, training and experience that served him well when he set up Kyle Phillips Golf Design in 1997. Within three years, he’d penetrated the tough Scottish market, turning a stretch of farmland on the coast south of St Andrews in Kingsbarns, widely viewed as the best golf course designed in the modern era (post 1960). After it opened in 2000, Kyle career took off. In 2010, Yas Links, his ground-breaking course in Abu Dhabi, earned similar acclaim. Over the last decade, he’s added The Grove outside London, Dundonald near Glasgow and Verdura in Sicily to an increasingly impressive portfolio. At the inaugural St Andrews Golf Festival in 2012, his work in 30 countries was honored with the first ever award for Excellence in Golf Course Architecture.

How much do you travel for your work?

I lose track of how many trips I make but it’s a constant round of airports and long-haul flights. Flying time is a chance to catch up on sleep or do some intensive paperwork. My reading is the Architectural Digest or some other periodical, often downloaded onto my iPad. I only watch a movie when I need to nod off. I try to fit the maximum number of meetings into business hours so I fly early in the morning or late at night. Not surprisingly, my wife is against that kind of schedule so she doesn’t come with me unless I’m prepared to add on a few days of pleasure. That doesn’t happen very often, but she did enjoy the chance to road test the five star hotel and spa at the opening at the Verdura Golf Resort in 2010.

Where is home?

Although the name doesn’t suggest it, Granite Bay is in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada outside of Sacramento. The bay is in Lake Folsom rather than on the coast. We raised our kids there and it’s still the ultimate in low stress as far as I’m concerned. I play golf nearly every day, which allows me to keep a single digit handicap. Although there are resorts nearby, I don’t ski or snowboard because I’ve got bum knees. I go to the gym with my wife sometimes but I’m defiantly not a bodybuilder.

Why did you go to the Middle East?

The height of the building boom in the early 21st century was the right time to explore the possibilities. I knew Dubai had several good courses, but none of them were outstanding. Abu Dhabi had a sand course, but the National was the only 18-hole grass layout so there was lots of scope.

What was your initial impression of the Yas Links site?

I was delighted by the barren strip of sand. It was even more featureless than the wet fields that became Kingsbarns, so I was able to let my imagination rip from day one. I look to natural Scottish and Irish courses from the Victorian and Edwardian eras – Prestwick, Lahinch, Royal Portrush – for inspiration, but on this occasion, I had to create fairways, bunkers and greens from scratch. My raw materials were heat resistant varieties of grass and sand imported from Saudi Arabia rather than dunes and turf cropped by sheep for centuries.

What did you like about Abu Dhabi when you went there regularly?

The big surprise was that it’s so up-to-date. I really enjoyed being part of the melting pot, working with people from different cultures and languages. Not that I can speak any of them. My grandmother came from Turin, but my Italian doesn’t extend beyond grazie mille and spaghetti bolognaise. Luckily, English has gone global so I was able to enjoy dinners in town with employees from around the world.

Where is your main focus now?

At the moment, golf cash is flowing east to China and South Korea. My project at South Cape, a mountainous coast south of Seoul, is a very different architectural challenge. The granite landscape isn’t suitable for a links course, but my staff are serious and hard working and the technology is excellent. I’m very impressed with South Korea’s organization, precision and above all its cleanliness. We could learn from that in the United States.

What are your other works in progress?

The Al Maaden Golf Resort outside Marrakech was my introduction to Morocco. In an arid area, they wanted water features that look like ponds in formal Moorish gardens, very different from the standard lakes you find around the world. Moroccans work to live, rather than living to work as they do in South Korea, so the organization is a bit chaotic, but one thing led to another and I’m now on site at Taghazout, a surfer’s paradise to the north of Agadir. The terrain for the course runs along the top of 60 meter cliff so there will be ocean views from every hole.

What’s your “must pack” for any trip?

My golf shoes. That way I can turn up at any course, get rental clubs and play. As everything in my luggage has to have real utility, they’re also handy to wear on site, especially when I need to get a grip in the mud. My other essentials are drafting scales, earplugs and eyeshades.

What do you do without?

No comb, no hair dryer. My friends are losing their hair, but mine’s long gone. The bonus is the look older while I stay the same!

SOURCE: Ultra Travel Magazine

Kingsbarns Golf Links in Scotland Earns Golf Tourism Scotland Award

kingsbarns

Kingsbarns Golf Links is looking forward to the New Year after finishing 2012 as it started: by winning a prestigious award.

A successful season for the East Neuk of Fife links was completed in style when it was named the Course of the Year at the renowned Golf Tourism Scotland awards for the second year in succession. It was the fifth time Kingsbarns has won the award in only its twelfth year of operation.

The award follows on from Kingsbarns being ranked the Number One Modern Course (built after 1960) in Great Britain and Ireland by the respected American magazine Golf Week for the third consecutive time at the start of the season.

The welcome recognition was achieved at the same time as Kingsbarns continued to perform well despite the challenging economic situation. More than 25,000 rounds were played at the modern links between March and November and the course continues to receive excellent feedback from golfers for its emphasis on delivering outstanding customer service.

Three innovative new programmes were implemented as part of Kingsbarns’ customer service strategy in the 2012 season. A “Cheerio Concierge” was introduced to assist golfers when they complete the round to ensure they benefit from the services and facilities on offer in the clubhouse. A new improved caddie programme was introduced by the Caddie Master Sean Wiseman. Kingsbarns is supporting the caddie experience fully by guaranteeing that if the customer does not believe his caddie to have enhanced his round on the Links, he will receive a full refund. Finally, golfers can warm up from grass tees giving them the true links feel (except on bad weather days).

Alan Hogg, Chief Executive of Kingsbarns, said: “This has been my first full year in charge at Kingsbarns and I believe we have made great progress in a short period of time. It is gratifying to receive two such prestigious awards and is welcome recognition for the hard work and dedication shown by the team here toward delivering an outstanding experience for golfers.

“We place a great deal of emphasis on maintaining a high standard of customer service and the new programmes we implemented this season are very much in line with our aim of encouraging golfers to tell their friends about the experience they enjoy here and to keep coming back themselves. We will be working hard over the winter to prepare for 2013. We want to ensure that we continue to improve the experience for golfers at Kingsbarns and to exceed their expectations.”

Kingsbarns carried on with its work for charity this year with around 40 different worthy causes benefiting from its support. The highlight was a special golf day in September hosted by former Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie which raised around £40,000 for the Elizabeth Montgomerie Foundation. The Foundation, named after his mother who died from cancer, is currently working to raise £4 million for two new Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres in Scotland.

Bookings are now being taken for 2013. The green fee prices remain frozen at £175.00 from 23 March through 30 April 2013 and at £195.00 from 1 May – November 2013. To book a tee time please contact + 44 (0) 1334 460860 or info@kingsbarns.com.

Kingsbarns Golf Links
Located just seven miles south-east of the Home of Golf at St Andrews Kingsbarns is a must-play seaside links course which regularly features in top 100 golf courses rankings in the world. Designed by Kyle Phillips, the golf course opened in 2000 and is set on land which gently slopes down towards the coastline, so nearly every hole boasts spectacular views of the sea. At 7,181 yards from the championship tees, Kingsbarns is a formidable enough test to be included in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship rota each autumn alongside the Old Course at St Andrews and Carnoustie Golf Links. Kingsbarns prides itself in excellent customer service and great accessibility for tee times. Visitors are treated as members for the day and enjoy assistance from the moment they step out of their car until they leave.

Source:  World Golf

Kingsbarns Golf Links to Host Final Qualifying for Ricoh Women’s British Open

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Kingsbarns Golf Links has been selected to host the Final Qualifying for the 2013 Ricoh Women’s British Open on Monday, 29th July 2013, ahead of the Championship proper which will be played for the second time over the Old Course, St Andrews, 1st – 4th August.

Kingsbarns Golf Links is ranked amongst the top 100 courses in the world and, located just seven miles from the Old Course, provides the perfect stage for the curtain raiser to the 2013 Championship where the world’s best women will seek to show their links skills in the most famous corner of the golfing world.

Alan Hogg, Chief Executive of Kingsbarns Golf Links explained, “We are delighted that the LGU and IMG have selected us to host Final Qualifying for one of the world’s leading professional tournaments. Not only are we excited to play such an important part in the 2013 Ricoh Women’s British Open we are delighted to be supporting the Ladies Golf Union and women’s golf. We hope this will showcase the magnificent facilities we have here at Kingsbarns and very much hope it is an association that we can develop in the coming years as we look to build our Championship portfolio.”

Shona Malcolm, Ladies’ Golf Union’s CEO, added, “The Championship Committee is very happy to be adding Kingsbarns Golf Links to the rotation of prestigious clubs who host Final Qualifying for the Ricoh Women’s British Open Championship. We know Kingsbarns will be a popular choice among the players and spectators and we very much look forward to seeing which players will conquer the challenges offered by this magnificent links course and claim the qualifying places available.”

The Ricoh Women’s British Open was founded by the LGU in 1976 and is staged in conjunction with IMG, the world’s largest sports marketing company. The event has been co-sanctioned by the LPGA and LET since 1994 and gained Major status in 2001.

For further information please visit www.ricohwomensbritishopen.com or contact:

Michele Mair, PR Manager, IMG

Email: michele.mair@imgworld.com

SOURCE:  Ladies European Tour

Golf Management Europe: Back To The Future

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The year of 1973 will live long in memory of the members of Real Club de Golf Las Brisas. Not only did the course host the Spanish Amateur Open but it was also the setting for the World Cup of Golf – the sport’s oldest worldwide team competition.

The tournament was won by Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller, the latter establishing the course record of 65.The layout drew praise from all who played it, culminating in the former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger later declaring it was the best course he had ever played.

The layout at Las Brisas had only been open for three years when the American duo romped to victory, yet it had already hosted the first of three Spanish Opens and would later stage another World Cup of Golf in 1989.These were heady days for the Malaga club.

Fast forward to the spring of 2012 and Las Brisas is readying itself for a €2 million renovation project that would send the Robert Trent Jones Senior design hurtling into the 21st century.

“When we refurbished the clubhouse, that was a big investment but it’s not as big as this,” says Paul Muñoz, the club’s general manager. “The clubhouse project didn’t create history; this refurbishment will. Since it was established in 1968, this is the biggest thing to happen to the club.”

Although the club had hosted some of the world’s best players, the glory days were long gone and it was clear improvements had to be made if Las Brisas was to stay in Europe’s top flight (in GolfWorld’s latest round-up of the best continental courses, Las Brisas dropped 40 places).

The club had no choice other than calling in a designer with a clear vision for the club’s future and an eye on its past.

He would also need an understanding of the philosophy adopted by the club’s original architect, as Muñoz explains: “We spoke to a number of architects, but Kyle Phillips seemed to have the same philosophy as Robert Trent Jones Senior,” he says.

“He had also refurbished the only Robert Trent Jones-named club in the US, so we thought he was the person most closely linked to that approach.”

Perhaps best known for the run-away success of Kingsbarns Golf Links near St Andrews, Kyle Phillips has an enviable reputation of producing natural-looking layouts heavily influenced by links golf.

He also takes on renovation projects and has been entrusted with some high profile projects including the overhaul of The Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Virginia ahead of the 2000 and 2005 President’s Cups.

At Las Brisas, Phillips saw a chance to tread in the great man’s footsteps once again.

“It was an opportunity to keep the same concept of the course but refine some elements,” Phillips explains.

“To do this, I put on my Robert Trent Jones Senior hat and imagined what kind of things he would have done naturally if he walked out here today.

“Of course the place is totally different and the game of golf has changed dramatically since he laid it out in the mid 1960s, but we were trying to be respectful to what was there and the history of the place.We also wanted to give the members something that looked familiar to them, but was totally fresh and new.”

As a private club, very little happens at Las Brisas without the approval of its 1,320 members who each pay an entry fee of €20,000 and annual subs of €2,120.

Although this endorsement could have been a stumbling block, the plan to upgrade the front nine while keeping the back nine open for play received overwhelming support.

“We only had funds to do nine holes and the members were not happy to ask for a loan in the current financial situation we have in Europe,” Muñoz says frankly.

“Things are not looking good, so the members were not comfortable getting a loan to cover the full project and they also weren’t happy for the course to be closed for eight or nine months.This way we had funds to refurbish nine holes and still had nine to play.”

Although the original plans focused on rebuilding the greens to USGA specifications and introducing a new irrigation system, the scheme also opened up possibilities of assessing the strategy of each hole and reconsidering bunker placement.

“The objective was to update the drainage and irrigation systems while revising the design,” impressed Muñoz. “As part of that, Kyle added new back tees and new bunkers where they needed to be more in play, while at the same time restoring the Robert Trent Jones Senior philosophy.”

The challenge of striking a balance between changing the course to counter new ball and club technologies while re-establishing the original design philosophy is one that Phillips clearly enjoyed.

“When you have a course like Las Brisas, which is fundamentally a good layout, you are looking for opportunities to bring back the original strategy when the hole was set out. In this case, there were opportunities to pull back tees to bring some of the bunkers and dog-legs back into play.”

Despite the retrospective nature of the project, Phillips insists it wasn’t a restoration. “This wasn’t a restoration project by any stretch of the imagination,” says Phillips.

“What does that really mean? Is it a literal restoration where everything is put back in its original place?

“If it is then you haven’t restored the strategy of the hole because people hit the ball differently these days. I subscribe to the idea of restoring the hole to how it was played.”

This approach resulted in the introduction of ten new greens including a new practice green, 50 rebuilt bunkers, two new bunkers and two bunkers being removed.

The work, which was carried out by Southern Golf, took place between April and the end of August with the abrupt time-frame intended to cause minimal disruption to the club’s members, many of whom are retired and own second homes in the area.

With the first nine holes due to be unveiled officially in December, Phillips is already receiving positive comments from the people who matter the most – the members.

“Sometimes the best feedback is from members who were opposed to the project before we began,” he says mischievously. “Now they are able to see the course, they are surprised by some of the shots they have into the greens, yet they still see the same course they have always played. Ultimately, that’s what you want.”

SOURCE: Golf Management Europe

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