Rick Jacobson's golf course design practice is expanding into the European market with a new resort project in Southern Italy. It will be the first original 18 hole course in Europe for Jacobson, who has extensive experience in the Asian market.
RDV Development and VFI have formed a joint venture partnership to develop the seaside golf resort in the southernmost Italian province of Calabria. The group has retained Jacobson to design a golf course for the Jewel of the Sea resort.
"The site is spectacular," said Jacobson.
"No matter where you are on the golf course you will have dramatic vistas in the distance – whether it's the mountains, the sea, the rolling hills, local vineyards, or ancient castles. It's a very unique setting that we think golfers are going to love." The 200 acre course ranges in length from 4,900 to 6,800 yards with five sets of tees.
The resort property starts at sea level, with a 250 foot elevation change on the course. "It's not very difficult to design a golf course that's hard for people to play," Jacobson said. "The challenge is to design a course that is aesthetically attractive and interesting enough that the average player can enjoy it, but also include elements that challenge top players." Jacobson said he plans to use large bunkers inspired by those of Alister MacKenzie at Cypress Point. Fairways will be contoured to collect rather than repel the shots of the average resort golfer and bunkers will be strategically located to challenge better players while not punishing the average golfer. Greens will be relatively generous in size with moderate contouring but with areas where pin placements can be tucked during tournament play.
Jacobson is taking a 'green' approach to course maintenance. Native droughtresistant grasses will be used in non-play areas to assist in erosion control and to reduce the amount of irrigation required.
This article first appeared in issue 14 of Golf Course Architecture, published in October 2008.