Monday, February 27, 2012

The Week That Was, february 26, 2012

croatia Hollywood on the Adriatic

My research is still a little spotty, but I can’t resist reporting that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have apparently become investors in a golf resort that will be built along Croatia’s Adriatic coast.

The resort, to be called Barabriga, will take shape on the Istrian peninsula, probably in a municipality called Vodnjan. (It’s just north of Pula.) As best I can determine, the site is among the many that were identified as suitable for golf resorts before the Great Recession ended most of Croatia’s development dreams.

Barabriga will reportedly consist of villas, hotels, a marina, and an 18-hole golf course. It’ll be built on property owned by Danko Končar, who’s said to be the nation’s richest individual. (A Croatian news source estimates that he’s worth $3 billion.) Končar, who’s been described as “mysterious” -- probably because he lives mostly in London -- is said to own some 2,500 acres in Istria County, and some of his property in Vodnjan is said to have been planted with olive groves and vineyards.

Yes, Končar is in the wine business, but vino isn’t the source of his wealth. Končar reportedly harvests minerals -- chromium, platinum, iron, zinc -- from mines that he owns in South Africa. In some circles, he’s known as “the King of Chrome.”

Like other celebrities, international businessmen, and power couples -- Jay Z and Beyonce, Bill and Melinda Gates, Prince Harry, Bernie Ecclestone -- Pitt and Jolie have warm feelings for Croatia. Jolie’s travels as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations led her to write and direct a movie (In the Land of Blood and Honey) about the Bosnian War, and she’s said to enjoy vacationing on the Brijuni Islands, which are located just off Vodnjan. A Croatian newspaper wrote that the couple believes the islands are “a paradise on earth and ideal for children.”

I’m just guessing, but Pitt and Jolie probably met Končar through Rade Šerbedžija, a Croatian actor who’s said to be an investor in Barabriga. Šerbedžija has appeared in several dozen Yugoslavian movies as well as a few U.S. films and television shows, among them Mission: Impossible II, Eyes Wide Shut, season six of “24,” and In the Land of Blood and Honey.

cambodia Faldo’s Second Act

Later this year, construction is expected to begin on Nick Faldo’s second golf course in Cambodia.

The championship-length, tournament-worthy track will be the first of two 18-hole courses that Vattanac Properties plans to build at its eponymous, 1,250-acre resort in suburban Phnom Penh, the nation’s capital city. I can’t tell you anything about the property, but Faldo Design’s director of architecture, Andrew Haggar, says in a press release that the firm will “design a landscape and an identity for the site and at the same time create an iconic golf course.”

At build-out, Vattanac Golf Resort will include what’s been described as “extensive real estate,” at least one hotel, and a variety of sports, recreation, and entertainment venues. A date hasn’t yet been set for the groundbreaking on the resort’s second Faldo-designed course, but it’s expected to have a contrasting style.

Faldo’s first venue in Cambodia, at Angkor Golf Resort, opened in late 2007. The course sits at or near the top of the list of venues to which Cambodian tour operators send foreign golf travelers, particularly those who wish to experience the rich historical treasures of Siem Reap.

Some information in this post originally appeared in the December 2010 issue of the World Edition of the Golf Course Report.

australia Golf Digest’s Top 10

Let the bragging begin: Australian Golf Digest has identified the nation’s premier golf courses, via the publication of its annual Top 100.

As in years past, the cream of Australia’s crop is dominated by courses designed, co-designed, or influenced by Alister MacKenzie. Greg Norman is responsible for two of the nation’s most elite tracks, and U.S. designers -– Tom Doak and the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw -– produced two others.

As we all know, top-whatever lists are created mostly to sell magazines. But Australian Golf Digest argues that it has a more noble purpose in mind.

“We hope this ranking encourages the proper custodianship of quality golf courses in this country,” writes Darius Oliver, the magazine’s architecture editor. “If we help a deteriorating club make a crucial decision on redevelopment, or equally prevent unnecessary change elsewhere, then we will have contributed in a small, but positive, way to the game we love.”

Here’s the top 10:

1. Royal Melbourne Golf Club’s West course in Victoria. Redesigned by MacKenzie. A true world-class layout. Doak once said that the West course “might be the place which has influenced my own design style the most.”

2. Kingston Heath Golf Club in Victoria. Designed by Dan Soutar and MacKenzie. Kingston Heath was the top-ranked track in 2011.

3. Ellerston Golf Course in New South Wales. Designed by Greg Norman.

4. Barnbougle Dunes Golf Links in Tasmania. Co-designed by Doak and Michael Clayton, an Australian architect. According to Oliver, some of the magazine’s evaluators “regard Barnbougle Dunes as Australia’s best golf course, while others are of the opinion that Lost Farm [#6 on the list] is an even better track.”

5. New South Wales Golf Club in New South Wales. Designed by MacKenzie. Down from #2.

6. Barnbougle Lost Farm in Tasmania. Designed by Coore and Crenshaw. Oliver: “By any definition this is world-class golf, and its best holes, such as the 5th and 14th, are among the finest in Australia.”

7. National Golf Club’s Moonah course in Victoria. Designed by Norman.

8. Royal Melbourne’s East course in Victoria. Designed by Alex Russell. He collaborated with MacKenzie on the redesign of the West course.

9. Victoria Golf Club in Victoria. Designed by William Meader and MacKenzie.

10. Metropolitan Golf Club in Victoria. Designed by J. B. MacKenzie. No relation.

And in Other News . . .

. . . united states What generates more money in Alabama, the golf business or crop production? The correct answer is crop production, but not by much: $818.7 million to $808.1 million. That’s the word from the first study of the golf industry’s economic impact on the state, courtesy of the Alabama Tourism Department and Golf 20/20. Notable factoids: More than half of the total revenue was provided by golf facility operations (252 golf courses, along with a few driving ranges and miniature golf courses, and the state’s golf industry supports 21,221 jobs. One other thing: In a story about the study, CBS News reports that the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, which features 26 golf courses in 11 locations, lures roughly 500,000 customers annually.

. . . wild card click I know what I'm watching tonight.