Golf Course Architecture - Issue 56: April 2019

Chileno Bay and Cabo del Sol, is for sure the most upmarket yet. The facilities at the development are already extremely impressive. There is a 120-room, five-star Montage hotel, located down by the water’s edge at the south-eastern corner of the property, while there are two separate housing offerings, though these are not yet fully built. The 52 Montage Residences are, though part of the hotel complex, actually for sale, while the Maravilla community, occupying the south-west part of the site, includes villas, homesites and townhouses. They are extremely high end too, with villa prices starting at several million dollars. Only homeowners in one of the two communities will be able to join the golf club, while the hotel also has access to tee times. The golf course itself is set slightly inland, above the highway that connects the two towns. This is unlike, for example, Diamante, where the Dunes course occupies prime oceanfront land, but I don’t think it is that much of a compromise. The land is dramatic, basically a desert hillside, but cut through by many dry river beds (arroyos). The ground rolls in all directions, and is frankly a golf architect’s dream. The architect of the Twin Dolphin course, southern California-based Todd Eckenrode of Origins Golf Design, was paired with PGA Tour star Fred Couples as signature designer on the project. Eckenrode says he enjoyed collaborating with Couples, who has done a variety of signature projects with other architects, and that his involvement was pretty active – on several occasions as we toured the course, he says things like ‘We had a bunker there, but took it out at Freddie’s suggestion’, and flags up his involvement with the second green, where an initial, roughed in concept, was blown up and reshaped to be wider, to make the hole more playable. Eckenrode identifies as a naturalist in design terms, and that, to me, was the most immediately striking aspect of the golf course. Although a fair amount of earth was moved during construction – and the whole course was sandcapped, as the desert soils do not drain very well – it takes an experienced eye to see where. There are, for example, very few drainage basins, with Eckenrode preferring to use the cant of the land to surface-drain the course into the arroyos which flank most holes. Although the course is new, it already looks very mature, thanks to an enormous revegetation scheme managed by landscape architect Ken Alperstein of Pinnacle Design (see box). This has been a triumph. Trees and plants that were removed to build the golf course have been replanted in a brilliant scheme, and there is absolutely no non-native vegetation to be found anywhere on the golf course. The course is still a few years away from true maturity; but considering how good it looks now, I’d sure like to see it when it has achieved his goals. TWIN DOLPHIN Photo: Todd Eckenorde – Origins Golf Design Eckenrode (left) on site with Fred Couples, the signature designer for the project 64