January reopening for Laguna Phuket after bunker and turf reduction project


January reopening for Laguna Phuket after bunker and turf reduction project
Sean Dudley
By Adam Lawrence

Laguna Phuket Golf Club in Thailand will reopen in January after an eighteen month renovation. The course, which originally opened in 1992, closed nine holes in July 2013 to begin the project, which was led by golf architect Paul Jansen.

Greens, tees and fairways have been reconstructed as part of the renovation, but Jansen told GCA he was most proud of the sustainability improvements produced by the work.

“Through the construction very little has gone to waste – for instance the trees we removed we have used for steps and benches, for woodchips in the rough areas and for wood-ties on some of our steep slopes,” Jansen said. “We propagated a good portion of the wetland plants found on the site and transplanted them elsewhere on the course or where we have extended the existing water bodies.”

The new-look course has only 37 bunkers, down from over 100 in its previous iteration, with the total area of sand reduced by more than 50 per cent. “We have reduced the amount of grass area drastically – the far rough areas are now woodchip – and as a result we have been able to cut the number of sprinklers from 1,200 down to 700,” said Jansen. “We have also planted the tees, fairways and rough areas with manila grass (zoysia) which grows well in the conditions and requires minimal input whilst still producing a very high quality play surface. We have designed and graded the ground to help with surface drainage and to create strategic interest. We have used fairway tiers, mounds, swales and ridges to promote the ground and make golfers think a bit more. The zoysia grass will also give us the best chance of getting run during the dry months.”

Jansen said creating a connection between the course and its local environment was another key goal. “I want golfers to feel that they are part of a story that is closely linked to the surrounds and history,” he said. “Obviously we looked to highlight the key features on site and off site, such as mountain views, but we have also introduced local furniture – local boats in the water bodies for example – and small detail of this kind help give the course a sense of belonging.”

Jansen and his colleague, project manager and shaper Mark Lawson, handled most of the construction work alongside the course’s staff. “Running the build this way meant we were able to teach the existing staff, and some local day labourers, key skillsets such as using survey gear, installing drainage and bunker and green construction,” he said. “This keeps cost to a minimum, but also helps to develop the abilities of local staff.”