Saturday, January 30, 2010

ABU DHABI Saadiyat Beach Golf Club is "very different"

Gary Player spent some time in Abu Dhabi this week, talking up his new golf course on Saadiyat Island.

The extra-long (7,800-yard) track, called Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, is the centerpiece of a huge master-planned community that's being developed by Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development & Investment Company, a government-run entity.

Player told the National that the course is "something special" and "undoubtedly one of my best," comments that were sure to please TDIC, which aims to sell enough houses to accommodate 160,000 people.

The track, which spreads over nearly 400 acres, was designed to conserve water and minimize maintenance costs. It's got lots of sand and plenty of easily quenched native vegetation, and it's been outfitted with four desalination plants to keep its grass green.

"I’ve never designed anything like this and I’ve never seen anything like it," Player said. "It’s very different."

Also very different will be the course's 194,000-square-foot, Frank Gehry-designed clubhouse, a futuristic-looking structure that's already generating a lot of media attention. The building, which is scheduled to open in 2013, will include a26-room hotel and a spa.

Saadiyat Island occupies more than 10 square miles. At build-out, it'll be filled with thousands of houses, a village center, 29 hotels (the first three, including a Park Hyatt and a St. Regis, are scheduled to open next year), Guggenheim and Louvre museums, three marinas, and many other attractions, including a second golf course.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Symposium will offer a "Roadmap to Asia"

Interested in doing a little business in China or Japan? What about South Korea? Or Mongolia?

If the answer is yes, you might want to cough up some cash for "Roadmap to Asia: The New Golf Frontier," a symposium that will be held in San Diego, California on Friday, February 12, 2010 -- the day after the Golf Industry Show ends.

The symposium is being sponsored by Golfweek, Asian Golf Monthly, and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.

The partners say their program is "revolutionary" -- a word not often heard on the trade show circuit. (Curiously, it's the same word Steve Jobs used to describe the new iPad. You compare.) They also promise to provide "valuable insider information" so you can "capitalize on the Asian boom," but we all know that such phrases are just a bunch of marketing baloney.

The list of speakers that appeared on a press release we recently received doesn't include any Asian golf developers, course designers, or builders. The headliner appears to be Wong Khen Lee, the president of the Asian Golf Industry Federation, whose board of directors includes representatives from such companies as IMG Golf, Nicklaus Design, Toro, and Callaway Golf.

Also on the bill are Mike Sebastian, the publisher of Asian Golf Monthly, who's also a member of the federation's board, and Bruce Charlton, the president of Robert Trent Jones, Jr.'s architectural company, which has been designing courses all over the planet for decades.

The event will be held at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel in San Diego.

The cost: $395 if you register before February 5, $495 afterwards. The press release says that the price includes a lunch and -- hold on to your seat cushions -- "two coffee breaks."

For more information, visit

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AUSTRIA Golfplatz Anif, Anif

A billionaire, a soccer legend, and a retired auto racer have set out to build “the leading private club in the Salzburg region” of Austria.

The partners are Dietrich Mateschitz, Franz Beckenbauer, and Ralf Schumacher, who were described -– comically, almost ludicrously -– in a press release as merely “a group of local investors.”

Forbes says that Mateschitz, who helped to create the Red Bull energy drink franchise, is worth $3.7 billion. He’s built a David McLay Kidd-designed golf course on Laucala Island in Fiji, and he owns a Formula One race team. He bought an Austrian soccer team on the advice of a close friend, Beckenbauer, one of the greatest soccer players of all time. The third member of the group, Schumacher, is a former Formula One driver and the younger brother of Michael Schumacher, the famous auto racer.

These “local investors” plan to build Golfplatz Anif in the village of Anif, a close-in southern suburb of Salzburg. The 18-hole, 6,500-yard course has been designed by Robin Hiseman of European Golf Design.

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BRAZIL Garapua Beach Resort, Ilha de Tinhare

While the experts boldly calculate the golf construction that will inevitably occur in and around Rio de Janiero, the real development action today is taking place in Bahia, a state in northeastern Brazil that has just four existing golf courses.

With its sunny beaches and sprawling rain forests, Bahia is already a popular vacation destination for many Brazilians. What Bahia doesn’t yet have, and what it needs to attract international travelers, are more golf courses. The need is being addressed, however, as the state’s tourist office reports that eight new courses are either in planning or under construction.

One of those courses is expected to take shape on Ilha de Tinhare, a small island that’s 40 miles south of Salvador, in the Bay of All Saints (Baia de Todos os Santos). The tourism office says that Ilha de Tinhare is the 10th most-visited place in Brazil.

The course will be part of the Garapua Beach resort community, which is being developed by Harlequin Hotels & Resorts. Last year, Dave Ames, the company’s chairman, visited Brazil to talk up the project, which is to include villas and apartments and some “branded” amenities, notably a Gary Player “signature” golf course, a Pat Cash tennis academy, and a Trader Vic’s restaurant.

As of late 2009, Harlequin hadn’t officially signed any of those brands, nor had it closed on the purchase of the 1,700-acre tract where Garapua Beach will be built. But negotiations are said to be underway.

The negotiations with Player will probably go smoothly. As the World Edition reported in November 2008, Harlequin has hired Player to design a golf course for the 500-acre Marquis Estate on the northeastern coast of St. Lucia.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

SLOVAKIA / Metropolis may break ground in 2011

In a story published on January 15, 2010, Trend reports that TriGranit has provided more details about its casino, hotel, and golf project in suburban Bratislava.

TriGranit, a Hungarian developer, will build the project, called Metropolis, in three phases. The first phase, which is to start in 2011, will include a casino, hotels, a shopping mall, and a water park. In the second phase, the casino and the water park will be enlarged. And in the third phase, more hotels, a conference center, and "golf courses" will be built.

TriGranit will submit its development proposal to state and local authorities sometime soon.

A story about TriGranit's project appeared in the November 2009 issue of the World Edition.

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