Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design has been hired to design a new golf course in Brazil.
The new course is to be built on a ‘fazenda’ – an estate or large farm – belonging to Eduardo Walker and located near Campinas in São Paulo State. The course will form part of a new private club which will include a hotel and practice facilities.
Jason Straka of Fry/Straka had previously been introduced to Walker by a mutual friend, and tells GCA how this led to the upcoming project coming to fruition.
“I heard Eduardo had a self-built private nine-hole golf course on his fazenda,” Straka says. “When I arrived, Eduardo took me out on the property and I was pleasantly surprised at how good his course was. He explained that his father had a passion for the game and built several golf holes and started Eduardo playing at a young age. After his father had passed, Eduardo purchased a handful of books on golf course architecture and finished the nine-hole course. One of those books happened to be from our company and upon seeing it I laughed. I asked him to turn the page, and there was my photo. I also noticed that his English was quite good and that he had a midwestern US accent to it. He then told me he was a foreign exchange student during high school in the Cleveland area, which is where I’m from. We are the same age and used to go to the same places while he was in the US. Since that day, he and I have become good friends and there is nothing more that I want than to design a world-class golf course for him.”
Straka describes the site of the new course as being very diverse, and split by a large escarpment measuring 100 metres from top to bottom.
“At the bottom is a river valley with lush vegetation and gentle topography,” Straka says. “On top, the site is more arid and open, with huge rock boulders strewn about. In fact, the best comparison to the upper portion of the site might be The Boulders Golf Club near Scottsdale, Arizona. We’ll be looking to incorporate the large rock outcroppings into backdrops of greens, along some of the tees and in other key spots throughout the course. We’ll also be looking to take advantage of the wonderful views within the property and long range views of the countryside beyond.”
Earthmoving will be minimal during the project, as the routing will capitalise on the property’s ‘softer areas’.
“Where we need to incorporate some steeper areas, we’ll do so via drop shot type holes,” Straka explains. “While the vertical elevation from tee to green or landing area might be somewhat large, the tees, fairways and greens themselves will be placed in more gentle topography.”
Water will not be an issue on the course, with a fair number of springs and streams dotted across the site. Some unique vegetation will be preserved, while special efforts will be made to limit the removal of boulders.
Straka and the project team are currently working on the routing, both on paper and out in the field.
“We are anticipating coming to a final routing in a few months,” he says. “Afterward, we will create the technical drawings to be submitted for permitting, which is expected to take 12 to 18 months. Construction should hopefully start sometime toward the end of next year or early 2019.”
Straka adds that, unlike some parts of Brazil, Campinas has a fairly strong golf market. He says he is confident that the new course will appeal to local and visiting players alike.
“As the area around the main international airport of São Paulo became congested, the city of Campinas built a new international airport,” he said. “Many North American, Asian and European companies followed by building their Brazilian and Latin American headquarters near the new airport. So, you have a Brazilian base of golfers but you also have a sizable international community there, many of whom play golf. For example, there is a standalone range in the area that has a membership of several hundred golfers, and that is only for a small practice facility. The new course will look to capture on that market demand while also providing extensive practice facilities to help grown and nurture newer players.”