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Cultural Agility, Flexibility Keys to Successful Robert Trent Jones Golf Courses
(PALO ALTO, CA) -- Despite the recent downturn in the golf industry worldwide, golf course architecture firm of Robert Trent Jones II (RTJ II) remains active. RTJ II is currently finishing work on courses in Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, South Korea, Sweden, and Vanuatu.
The firm recently signed new projects in Asia, Northern Europe, Central America, and in other locales. And even in a challenging domestic market, RTJ II expects to open several new courses in the US in 2009 and 2010, including much-heralded projects such as The Patriot Course, in Oklahoma; Sequoyah National, for the Eastern Band Cherokee Indians, in North Carolina; Hickory Stick, outside Niagara Falls, NY; and others.
The firm's architects are also working on a number of renovation projects across the globe, including former World Cup host Princeville Makai, on the Hawaiian island of Kauai; Makena South, on Maui; and Australian PGA Championship host Hyatt Coolum.
Chairman and Master Architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr. attributes the company's on-going success - even in the most challenging of times - to what he calls its "cultural agility and financial flexibility." Jones defines these as an ability to address the cultural vagaries and unique contexts surrounding the game of golf in different parts of the world while also adjusting to economic conditions in each locale.
RTJ II President and Chief Design Officer Bruce Charlton concurs.
"If I could choose one characteristic that has made our firm successful on every continent except Antarctica, it's how we shape our work to the cultural climate surrounding golf in the disparate nations where we build courses," Charlton adds. "Not only do we work in many different countries with wide variations in landforms, weather, and other factors, but our clients range from heads-of-state to corporate CEO's to municipalities with tight budgets. In designing more than 250 courses in more than 45 countries we've learned to address the specific needs of our clients while taking into account the particular culture of golf that characterizes the game in whatever neighborhood or nation we're working in. And, as our recent 'Green Proclamation' expresses, we always work to protect the natural environment --something that's important to cultures everywhere."
Charlton continues, "Although the rules of our ancient Scottish pastime are essentially the same wherever it's enjoyed, the culture surrounding the game can be as different as a fast-playing American and a Japanese golfer who anticipates a delicious two-hour lunch at the turn." As an example of the firm's cultural agility, Charlton cites its ability to satisfy recent clients in the South Sea island of Vanuatu as well as owners in Scandinavia.
RTJ II Director of Asian Operations Mike Kahler describes the golf culture in Vanuatu as "right out of a Jimmy Buffett song--it's laid back, with warm coastal breezes and salt air making it difficult to get very intense about anything, especially something as inconsequential as a lost ball or a missed putt."
"Given that culture," Kahler adds. "we designed a leisurely, easy-going course that allows golfers to commune peacefully with their surroundings. The holes route through several different environments that provide a sense of tranquility. And because it's a resort and community course we created holes that won't eat you alive if you don't hit perfect shots."
In Scandinavia, on the other hand -- where RTJ II designed such award-winning layouts as Sweden's Bro Hof Slott Golf Club and Denmark's Lubker Golf Resort -- the cultural atmosphere is quite different.
"Scandinavians play the game as crisply as they dress," Charlton notes. "Because of the short golf season they'll go out in any type of weather and play during the 'white nights' of summer, teeing off well past 6 pm. They always walk (and briskly!). In designing courses in Norway and Sweden and Denmark, we keep in mind that players place a premium on golf as exercise. So we worry less about cart paths and the distances between greens and tees and focus more on responding to the natural configurations of the land. The game there is clean, fast, and intense -- very different from the warm, easy-going attitude in Vanuatu."
Golf culture can be as unique as the history or beliefs of a specific people. Charlton reports that when working in China, for example, RTJ II learned to incorporate aspects of Feng Shui into the arrangement of course features. In working with Native American tribes in the U.S., the firm's architects often have to discover ways to route interesting, playable, and flexible golf holes through natural areas that can't be disturbed because of the reverence that Native Americans have for the land.
Gary Player Group, Harlequin Hotels & Resorts Launch St. Lucia Golf Resort
(ST. LUCIA) -- The Gary Player Group is expanding its global brand with the announcement July 13 of a new real estate venture with Harlequin Hotels & Resorts at The Marquis Estate on the stunning northeast coast of St. Lucia, an unspoiled Caribbean island gem. The five-star beach resort project was officially unveiled at a special launch event hosted by Harlequin Hotels & Resorts at The Grove, an award-winning country estate retreat, near London.
Plans include the first boutique Gary Player Golf Hotel and 20 Gary Player branded luxurious, secluded residential villas that will be interspersed on hillsides throughout the golf course. The co-branded endeavor will be developed and designed by Player Real Estate with Harlequin Hotels & Resorts, and the architecture and interior design will showcase the distinctive Player Infused with Africa™ inspired style, while keeping with the indigenous flavor of the island.
"Our long global history of being involved with the finest golf resort developments in the world will be brought to bear on this project," said Ken Costanzo, President of PLAYER Real Estate. "Additionally, we are organizing a team of world class designers, hotel operators, and other professional partner firms to support us in the development of the Gary Player Golf Hotel in St. Lucia."
Of course, a Gary Player Signature Golf Course will anchor the resort property. The Gary Player Design team has made multiple visits to St. Lucia to establish design direction on this stunning site. "The island site offers tremendous opportunity to take golf to nature," said Scott Ferrell, President of Gary Player Design. "The valley floor includes wonderful tropical vegetation and a beautiful stream that dissects the property all the way to the Caribbean Sea. We will incorporate both into our design."
Harlequin Hotels & Resorts has pledged that the whole resort will be extremely sensitive to the environment. Gary Player Design and PLAYER Real Estate will take great care to protect the existing ecosystems, plant and wildlife on the 600-acre Marquis Estate. Gary Player and his team will make many site visits during development to ensure the quality and integrity of the championship course and real estate products.
The West Paces Group, a luxury hotel management company based in Atlanta, Georgia, will manage the Gary Player Golf Hotel and residences, including the golf clubhouse, beach club and spa.
Other planned amenities at The Marquis Estate are an equestrian center, a cricket ground, nature trails, yacht club and marina. A Pat Cash Tennis Academy also will be featured,
and Harlequin Hotels & Resorts has signed an agreement with the storied Liverpool Football Club to establish an innovative Liverpool FC Soccer School as part of The Marquis Estate's sports programs. A golf driving range, short game practice area and golf academy round out the golf experience.
"I've seen golf have a significant influence in so many emerging tourism markets," notes Gary Player, who this past March made his first visit to the island. "We anticipate that this exciting new development will attract visitors from around the world to St. Lucia, which will provide a tremendous boost to the local economy." The Marquis Estate promises to be an unmatched Caribbean sanctuary for golf connoisseurs at one of the world's most desired destinations."
Rainmakers Golf Course Community Pushes Forward With New Clubhouse
(RUIDOSO, NM) -- In keeping with its commitment to members and residents, Rainmakers, a private golf and residential community just north of Ruidoso, New Mexico, has announced plans to start construction on a 14,000 square foot clubhouse this August. According to Rainmakers development partner Mike O'Brien, the Old Pueblo-style facility will be located just off of the 18th green, taking advantage of exceptional views of Sierra Blanca Peak, sunsets, blue skies and the surrounding golf course.
"We are extremely pleased to have the ability to move forward with such an exciting and highly anticipated amenity," O'Brien said. "Needless to say, our property owners and members are thrilled with the news."
Groundbreaking is scheduled for late August, and the clubhouse is expected to be open for members and their guests by the onset of the 2010 golf season.
The clubhouse will include casual and fine dining, a wine bar, meeting facilities, pro shop and private locker rooms.
Rainmakers' Robert Trent Jones II golf course opened last summer to rave reviews, and has received national accolades for its dramatic landscape, mountain views and cutting-edge water conservation efforts.
Named one of the "Top 10 New Private Courses in the U.S." by Golf Magazine, the course is also the first Audubon International Signature course in New Mexico, a distinction shared by just a limited number of sustainable developments throughout the world.
In addition to the planned clubhouse construction, Rainmakers has a number of new custom homes and townhomes under way. "We are very encouraged by all of the activity," O'Brien said. "It just underscores the unique nature, value and lifestyle that Rainmakers' owners and members envisioned for this community from its onset."
The developers are also finalizing plans for the community's next phase of home sites, along the first two holes, expansion of utility services, and The Kiva Clubhouse, which will include swimming, Jacuzzi, sauna, fitness and meeting facilities, along with a park and walking trail system.