Golf Course Architecture: Issue 53 JULY 2018

16   Golf Course Architecture Tee Box The first of ten courses being designed by Schmidt-Curley Design at the FLC Quang Binh development close to Dong Hoi, on the coast of the East Vietnam Sea, is grassed and will be playable within weeks. The second course will be grassed soon and is likely to be playable by autumn 2018, around the same time as the golf clubhouse will open. Construction is being overseen by Martin Moore of Flagstick Golf Course Construction Management. The site for these first two courses is entirely white sand. “I have described it as Pine Valley at the beach,” said Brian Curley. “The project has six kilometres of coastline and the main interior dunes rise up to 40 metres tall. Much of it has a good degree of existing landscape of casarina pines, and scrubby native grasses as well as marsh grasses,” he added. “The first course promises to be the most natural in Vietnam, and maybe all of Asia.” Curley – experienced with multi-course projects following his work with the Mission Hills group in China – has employed a design approach focused on creating a very natural course with surface drainage with modest, but abundant, fairway movement and sand-based transitional edges. “The unique feature is that it has an abundance of fresh water just below the surface,” said Curley. “Essentially anywhere you dig, you will hit the water table only one metre deep. We have a main lake that has not dropped one foot in elevation in almost two years. In addition, there are a few very significant surface flow water channels that, during big events, will become quite deep and wide. This is a design feature incorporated into the courses, especially the first course where three main channels run through. The second course has two main channels and a third that is being diverted to the outside of the course. “This water table and surface flow has dictated that we raise any turf areas roughly one metre to ensure no issues with the highest water table levels during the rainy season. In order to generate this material and to handle floods, we have in a few places expanded the marshy lows. The result is a very dramatic visual of contrasting colour of white sand, green paspalum turf, dark green trees and vegetation and the crystal blue waters of the open lakes where depths run past one metre and the surrounding marsh edges. So, while the look is extremely natural, there is a fair amount of engineering that went into the effort, but all in a very soft manner of execution.” Width has been achieved through both fairway and level sandy-edges that transition at a soft grade. “I felt that the concept of width need not always be turf alone but a combination of turf and very playable, sand- based edges of packed sand and pine straw where you can easily find your ball. I have long advocated a general need of 70 metres of width in main landing areas, but for a variety of reasons from cost to water usage to visuals, this need not be just turf alone. By no means will these courses be a stranger to lost balls but our intention is that slightly errant shots will be found and advanced with little effort from a surface that is friendly, perhaps a footprint here and there, but findable.” Curley expects each course to have fewer than five formal bunkers surrounded by turf, instead relying on ‘up dunes’. All non-turf areas are intended to be firm, level sandy areas with pine straw and scrubby grass Brian Curley completes first course at major new Vietnam development