Category: landscape

the Catalina Mountains are a great backdrop …

the Catalina Mountains are a great backdrop for the teeshot 

      @ Ventana Canyon Golf, Tucson

the Catalina Mountains are a great backdrop …

the Catalina Mountains are a great backdrop for the teeshot 

      @ Ventana Canyon Golf, Tucson

Golfplan unveils Thai resort 18 in shadow of B…

Golfplan unveils Thai resort 18 in shadow of Buddha Mountain

With a December christening here at Chee Chan Golf Resort, the course architects at Golfplan ( have again showcased their skill at integrating world-class golf holes with signature elements in the local landscape and culture.

Here by the Gulf of Siam, the dominant element is the Chee Chan Buddha, whose serene likeness has been carved into a limestone escarpment some 110 meters high. “Buddha Mountain” is one of the region’s best known tourist and devotional attractions. Today, his gilt-edged visage is visible from nearly every spot on the 220-acre property, including the entire opening hole.

“We couldn’t afford to miss that opportunity — to start golfers on their spiritual journey under the watchful eye of Siddhartha Gautama,” said Golfplan Partner David Dale. “The Buddha invites a decision on the very first tee: play conservative to the right/lower landing area and approach the green uphill, over deep bunkers — or drive more aggressively (left of the center bunker) to create a downhill approach to unguarded putting surface.

“We have much to learn from the Buddha, who taught us a ‘Middle Way’ between sensual indulgence and uncurbed asceticism. For golfers the larger message is unambiguous: Relax and keep it in the fairway.”

The Dec. 12 grand opening at Chee Chan Golf Resort punctuates a busy end-of-year period during which Dale and his partner in Golfplan, Kevin Ramsey, unveiled and otherwise celebrated a series of projects that cannily place golf in disparate cultural contexts:
• In October, the firm opened the full 18 at Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort & Spa, in Uganda, where Ramsey designed an enormous man-made lagoon that divides holes 1 & 9 from 17 & 18, accommodates the property’s sparkling new marina, and integrates the entire property directly with its primary attraction, mighty Lake Victoria itself.
• Ramsey also applied the finishing touches this fall to Tabori Hills, a resort track to open next year in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Thanks to Ramsey’s routing, this cliff-top design will afford golfers stunning, long views of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi (where downtown patrons can access the resort by gondola).
• Dale couldn’t make Chee Chan’s grand opening; he was in Korea, debriefing with PGA Tour officials following The CJ Cup, which is contested over his feted design at The Club at Nine Bridges (#41 on GOLF Magazine’s world top 100). Dale watched most of October CJ Cup from the sleek, modernist teahouse behind the 14th green.

“South Korean designs must, according to local custom, feature teahouses in the middle of each 9,” Dale explained. “We spent months routing and rerouting that stretch of the back nine at Nine Bridges — to create the perfect perch for that teahouse. We did the same on the homeward stretch to create dramatic views of Mt. Halla, which is sacred to the Korean people.

“At Chee Chan, the cultural aspect was ready-made and close by, but we accentuated the experience over and over again. By my count, holes 5, 6, 11, 14 and 17 all play toward Buddha Mountain — 11 and 17 afford golfers excellent views of a Buddhist temple nestled into a different hillside. The experience is unique precisely because it’s so unique to Thai culture.”

Formed in 1972, Golfplan has been introducing golf to new markets and maximizing cultural experiences for nearly 50 years. Based in Santa Rosa, California, USA, it is the most international firm in all of course architecture, having creating more than 218 original designs in 32 different countries (if master planning and renovation are considered, make that 85 countries). This sort of sustained, diverse productivity is one reason GolfInc magazine named Dale and Ramsey among the “Top 10 Most Powerful People in Asian Golf” for 2016.

Golfplan has worked extensively in Thailand. Their designs at Panya Park, Panya Indra and Mountain Shadow (down the road from Chee Chan, in Pattaya) all remain popular — and profitable, Dale is quick to add. But those courses were built in the 1990s.

“It’s a privilege to work again in Thailand, especially on a site so unusual. This is flat, coastal country here by the Gulf — but we had fully 25 meters of elevation change to work with at Chee Chan,” Dale reported. “The eye is naturally drawn to the escarpment featuring the Buddha, but the property is ringed by these limestone karsts — some are 150 meters tall! The perimeter holes play uphill to their bases, then back down again. These enormous features give the entire course both an amphitheater feel and a pleasing sense of seclusion.

“In this environment, it’s tempting to shape the golf course in competition with these large features. But I think we struck the right balance. The contour is flamboyant but toned down through the landing zones. There are several cavernous valleys that separate the holes, which tend to melt over and between these landforms. With the introduction of drought-tolerant bahia grass to frame and accent all this, it’s a pretty stunning tableau.”

Buddha Mountain was created on the northern face of Khao Chee Chan in 1996, to commemorate His Majesty the King of Thailand’s golden jubilee. It’s been a major domestic tourist draw ever since — enough to invite subsequent development of a water park, winery and shopping district. With new accommodations and world-class resort golf added to the mix, this corner of Pattaya (just 90 minutes from Suvarnabhumi International Airport) is a fully fledged destination unto itself.

“I love golf,” said Narit Chia-Apar, founder of Chee Chan Golf Resort and chairman of the developing entity, Chartered Square Holding Company. “I know how golfers think and what they want. I know the level of service that is expected, and so I built the course based on the needs of myself as a golfer, and not just as an investor. Whatever I see fit to give the best impression for our visitors, I will make sure that we have it here.”

incredible finishing golf hole    @ Kingsbarns…

incredible finishing golf hole

    @ Kingsbarns Golf Links, St.Andrews, Scotland

incredible finishing golf hole    @ Kingsbarns…

incredible finishing golf hole

    @ Kingsbarns Golf Links, St.Andrews, Scotland

Golf Instruction Academy to Open at Reflection…

Golf Instruction Academy to Open at Reflection Bay Golf Club at Lake Las Vegas

A new golf instruction academy is being formed at the award-winning Reflection Bay Golf Club at Lake Las Vegas, complete with professional golf instruction, state-of-the-art technology and a new building to house the program.

The academy will be located on the former Falls golf course at Lake Las Vegas, with completion slated for summer 2019. When complete, the academy will offer one, two and three-day golf school options for juniors and adults and will be open to beginner and more advanced players.  

“The golf academy will further enhance the status of Reflection Bay Golf Club as one of the premier practice facilities in the western United States,” said Eric Dutt, director of golf operations for Reflection Bay Golf Club. “The academy will be an unparalleled offering that will attract locals and out of towners who want to relocate to a resort location where they can enjoy golf year-round.”  

Dutt said the academy will be the only facility in Southern Nevada of its kind and will offer golfers an on-site venue that gives them access to learn the sport first-hand from professional players.

Former PGA golfers Craig Barlow and Jeff Gallagher were appointed this year as golf instructors at Reflection Bay. Barlow, a PGA Tour professional who has made 170 cuts on the PGA Tour and competed in eight major tournaments including the British Open and five U.S. Opens, is the club’s director of instruction. Former professional golfer Jeff Gallagher has played on the PGA Tour and the Nationwide Tour.

Once open, the academy will offer a variety of programs, including VIP programs for Lake Las Vegas residents as well as programs for high school teams and junior golf development.

About Reflection Bay Golf Club

Reflection Bay Golf Club is set on a luxurious lake located 25 minutes east of the Las Vegas Strip. This 320-acre man-made lake is the centerpiece of the Lake Las Vegas residential resort community. Built in 1998, Reflection Bay Golf Club was designed by 18-time Major winner Jack Nicklaus. The course is designated as a prestigious Jack Nicklaus Signature Design and is one of only three Nicklaus-designed courses in Southern Nevada. Reflection Bay was host to the Wendy’s 3Tour Challenge from 1998 to 2007, showcasing the talents of such champions as Bubba Watson, Fred Couples, John Daly and Phil Mickelson. For more information, visit

Andalucía Costa Del Sol Open de España, La Qui…

Andalucía Costa Del Sol Open de España, La Quinta Golf & Country Club, Benahavís, Malaga Spain.

Tripp Davis and Associates Prepares to Transfo…

Tripp Davis and Associates Prepares to Transform Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club

Tripp Davis and Associates (TDA) has been retained by Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club in Nichols Hills, Oklahoma, to direct the extensive renovation and restoration of the Perry Maxwell and Alister MacKenzie designed course that opened in 1929. 

The TDA plan will renovate drainage, cart paths, the structure of tees, greens and bunkers, and re-grass most of the course, to include using Latitude 36 Bermuda for tees and fairways, and 007 Bent Grass for the greens.  Work will include restoring the original rounded/irregular shape of the tees, returning strategic widths in fairways and removing many introduced trees, plus restoring the strategic intent and style of the bunkers and the size of the original greens. 

The work to the greens also will include preserving the existing contours, mostly original, while making minor changes to enhance them for modern play.  All greens had the existing contours scanned and each layer of the rebuilding of the greens will be carefully monitored with GPS equipment to make sure the important contours are artfully preserved.  TDA is also working with EC Design of West Des Moines, Iowa, to plan a completely new irrigation and pumping system.      

“Being given the responsibility to renovate and restore the Maxwell/MacKenzie course at Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club is uniquely exciting for me given my history there and the many friends I have there,” said Tripp Davis, lead golf course architect.  “I first played the course in 1985 as a freshman on the University of Oklahoma golf team, and it has since been one of my favorite courses in the world.  Being able to bring the golf course back to more what it was intended to be by Mr. Maxwell and Mr. MacKenzie will be one the greatest thrills of my professional career.” 

The Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club was one of only a few courses that Maxwell and MacKenzie collaborated on, with Crystal Downs in Michigan, and the Ohio State University Scarlett Course being two of the more high profile courses they did together.  Davis has limited his workload so he can be on site, 30 minutes from his home, on an almost constant basis.

 TDA Shaper Jason Gold, who has been a TDA staff member for over 10 years, will be on site to shape the course, while Davis will personally oversee the shaping of the surfaces of the greens to preserve the existing character.  “Jason and I will be working to make sure every detail is right and that every strategic element is pure to how Mr. Maxwell and Mr. MacKenzie wanted the course to play.  They were extraordinary at making everything they did look like a natural part of the land, and using that to create beautiful strategic variety and interest, highlighted by the angles they created and the importance of precision when playing into the greens,” stated Davis. 

Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club will close its golf course for construction this winter and there are plans for a limited reopening in December 2019, with full play in Spring 2020.

About Tripp Davis and Associates

Tripp Davis and Associates (TDA) was founded in 1994 and has offices in Norman, Oklahoma, and New York City.  TDA practices golf architecture with an unparalleled passion for craftsmanship of unique landscapes and strategic details.  Tripp Davis, a decorated amateur golfer, was a member of the 1989 National Championship Golf Team and a NCAA All-American selection while at the University of Oklahoma.  He continues to play in several prestigious amateur events each year. 

Tripp’s abilities as a world-class player give him a unique insight into those subtle details in strategy that can make a golf course an interesting challenge for better players, while proving an enjoyable test for the average golfer.  His knowledge of the game has also been incorporated into the development of innovative practice facilities that give players the opportunity to practice the right shots in the right way, thus expanding their golfing abilities and their appreciation for the game. 

Davis earned a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from The University of Oklahoma and is a Member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects.  For more information about Tripp Davis and Associates, please visit the website at or call 405-447-5259.

Photo Credit: Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club

PGA National Resort & Spa’s Celebrated Cha…

PGA National Resort & Spa’s Celebrated Champion Course Reopens Following Major Renovation  

PGA National Resort & Spa – South Florida’s world-class golf, vacation, meetings and spa destination – has reopened its celebrated Champion Course following a major $1 million renovation by Nicklaus Design.

Significant improvements implemented by Nicklaus Design, led by senior design associate Chris Cochran, include the removal of Palmetto palms on the right side of No. 1 and left side of No. 9 to offer more options for PGA TOUR players on their tee shots as well as approaches into both greens. The removal will also allow for better crowd flow during the Honda Classic as the annual event has become one of the most popular and well-attended on the PGA TOUR schedule.

Additionally, one-third of an acre (14,400 sq. ft.) was recaptured on the putting surfaces, adding an average of 800 square feet per green. Most notably, the putting surfaces will return to the native design Jack Nicklaus and his team implemented 16 years ago.

The green complexes were re-built, shaped and grassed with Tif-Eagle Bermuda. This results in seamless transitions from green surrounds to putting surfaces and tighter relationships with respect to greenside bunkers. The changes allow for consistency in a variety of weather conditions and make one of the true “bucket list” courses in the game even more compelling.

The mighty Champion Course has long been feared and revered as one of the most challenging in the game. One of the premier tests of golf is now even stronger. Resort guests can try and tackle The Champion Course when taking advantage of several exceptional stay-and-play offers including the popular Gold Golf Package with rates starting at $279 (per person, per night, double occupancy).

Nicklaus and his team comprehensively redesigned The Champion in 2002 as well as a 2014 redesign of layout’s stout par-4 14th hole which leads to the famous “Bear Trap” – a series of three demanding holes (Nos. 15,16 and 17) which many considered the toughest stretch in the game.

“We are honored to have worked on a course with such a storied history with both Jack Nicklaus and his design company,” says Cochran. “We took the advice of the best players in the game and made one of the great layouts in the U.S. even stronger.”

Next to its daunting first hole, The Champion Course’s outstanding driving range was significantly upgraded last year and includes a secluded section for PGA TOUR pros to practice their short game as well as greenside and fairway bunker play. The new pristine area garnered rave reviews from the players in the 2018 Honda Classic.

“As the home of a PGA TOUR course as well as being an iconic golf resort and private membership club, we continue to invest significantly in our brand assets,” says Greg “Coach” Saunders, PGA National’s vice-president and managing director. “The time was right to restore the greens and we are excited to announce the completion of this major project on our distinguished Champion Course.”

The renowned destination also features four added first-class championship layouts: The Palmer, The Fazio, The Squire and The Estates. The transformed Palmer Course, originally designed by legendary Arnold Palmer, reopened last November after undergoing a comprehensive renovation to rave reviews.

Additionally, PGA National offers the David Leadbetter Golf Academy and David Pelz Scoring Game School for individual instruction and group clinics; Every Ball Counts – the world’s first science-based, statistics-driven training system for golf improvement offered at its off-site Estates Course; and state-of-the-art club fitting at the PGA National Club Fitting Lab.

For more information, please visit or call 800.863.2819.



Sky Sports Golf Commentator and former Pro-Golfer John E. Morgan is set to bring his expertise to the only golf course in the Maldives from February 15 to 28, 2019

Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives, is delighted to announce its partnership with Sky Sports golf commentator and former pro-golfer, John E. Morgan, for a two week residency from February 15 to 28, 2019. Morgan, who has played alongside legends including Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Fred Couples, is well known for his participation in The Open Championships, European Tour and PGA Tour. During the two week residency, the talented golfer will teach guests in group classes and one-on-one sessions, sharing his expertise on how to sink a hole in one in this paradisiacal setting.

The Golf Residency with John E. Morgan at Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa is designed for golf enthusiasts of all levels and ages. Guests can take advantage of the resort’s impressive nine-hole, par three and four golf course. Nestled on seven and a half hectares of land at the southern end of Villingili Island, the course is the only one of its kind in the Maldives and is designed with coconut-palms lining the fairways and stimulating challenges and vistas throughout.

Along with personal training and group workshops, the resort will host fun tournaments and activities throughout the two week residency, including Beat the Pro sessions, during which guests are invited to try to hit a drive closer to the hole than Morgan. Golfers should not be intimidated, as Morgan will use only one hand for this activity.

Golf enthusiasts can also participate in the first-ever Mount Villingili Challenge, during which golfers will compete to strike a fish food golf ball the furthest into the turquoise Indian Ocean. Afterwards, guests can celebrate with a tailored Dine by Design experience atop Mount Villingili, toasting their golfing triumphs as they admire tropical views of the golf course and ocean beyond.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to paradise and share my love of golf with guests at the renowned Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa,” said Morgan. “I’m looking forward to helping seasoned players improve their game and introducing beginners to the sport, perhaps for the very first time. There will be lots of fun events taking place over the two weeks which I’m sure guests will enjoy!”

Guests can book the Stay & Play with John E. Morgan package, which starts from US$920++ per person per night, including:

·         One-on-one personalized golf session with John E. Morgan for 45 minutes

·         Two golf workshops with John E. Morgan – one hour group sessions

·         One Beat the Pro session with John E. Morgan – one hour group session

·         Tea & Tee – A round of golf for two persons, followed by an afternoon tea at the golf course

·         One Dine by Design experience for two persons on Mount Villingili, the highest summit in the Maldives, overlooking the golf course, including wine pairing

·         A 60 minute Golf massage – A Deep Tissue Acupressure Massage, stimulating specific points to improve blood circulation, help relieve muscle knots and pain, as well as increase range of motion.

·         Yoga session with Master Dr. Pooja, perfect for stretching muscles after a round of golf

·         Daily breakfast buffet at Javvu restaurant

The package is available from February 15 – 28, 2019, over a minimum stay of five nights. Terms & conditions apply.

For more information and reservation: Tel: +960 689 7888,