Golf Course Architecture - Issue 60, April 2020

45 Photo: Golf Saudi he points out that first and foremost, golf is supposed to be fun and his goal is for the game to become part of the fabric of modern Saudi Arabia. This is no small task, since there are currently 5,000 registered golfers in Saudi Arabia, of which around 100 are Saudi nationals. However, considering the rough estimate that there will be twenty new courses opening in the next ten years plus an impressive plan to integrate golf into schools and communities through the use of simulators in malls, high-tech practice ranges, formal teaching academies, golf camps, innovative par-three courses, short courses and other soon-to-be- announced fun golf products, it seems entirely plausible that the goal of 27,000 registered golfers and at least one million residents who have actively tried golf will be reached. Unlike the development of golf in some other recently emerging markets around the world, Golf Saudi is partnering with private developers to first build a ‘golf ecosystem’, meaning that before they pursue international golf tourism in the kingdom, they will have built a golfing culture where golf is a common thing for a broad swathe of the population and not just some new expensive pastime for the elite. A key difference is that the staffing of the industry will be easily integrated since golf will be familiar to almost everyone. In addition to the intention of building a home-grown thriving golf community before focusing on tourism, the kingdom is off to a roaring start. The second staging of the Saudi International Golf Championship produced an impressive field including Each of the five giga projects covers hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of square kilometres. 1. Ad Diriyah, known as the ‘pearl of Saudi Arabia’. World Heritage Site. Will have a 27-hole Greg Norman course. 2. Neom is Saudi Arabia’s futuristic new development, a US$500 billion high tech city. 3. The Red Sea project will be the first fully integrated, luxury, mixed-use resort in the Middle East and has a course design project close to being awarded. 4. Amaala: this project along the Red Sea, features a cultural and arts academy and integrated wellness tourism. 5. Qiddiya, is set to be Saudi’s ‘pre-eminent entertainment, sports and cultural destination’ and has two golf courses planned with the designers yet to be announced. The project will be more than twice the size of Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Saudi’s giga projects Royal Greens Golf & Country Club hosted the country’s second European Tour event in February 15 of the current world top 50 players including number one Brooks Koepka, defending champion Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood, Shane Lowry, along with luminaries like Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson. It was played on the impeccably conditioned Troon-managed and EGD-designed, Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, which held up to the unrelenting attacks of some of the game’s greatest. It is demonstrably a true championship venue. These are exciting times for the golf design business as industry stalwarts