International golf architecture practice Thomson Perrett & Lobb has signed a contract to design a new course outside the Nigerian city of Calabar.
The eighteen hole course will be built on a dramatic riverside site just outside the city, the capital of Cross River State, whose state government is developing the project.
The development covers a total site of 400 hectares and includes an international convention centre, which is already under construction. Renowned Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects has designed the centre, as well as the other components of the project, a hotel and a hilltop housing community.
TPL’s London-based principal Tim Lobb and Andrew Goosen, who runs the firm’s African office in Cape Town, recently returned from a week-long visit to Calabar, during which the design contract was formally signed. The pair then spent the rest of the visit walking the site, and assessing the layout options.
Nzan Ogbe, special advisor to the Governor’s Office, who led the committee in charge of the design contests, said: “We selected TPL for this important project after an international competition. Combined with the convention centre and hotel, the new golf course is a big investment for Cross River State and we believe in TPL we have found a partner we can rely on.”
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and has one of the continent’s fastest growing economies. But its natural resources, such as forests, are under pressure, and, said Tim Lobb, the golf course must be designed and built sensitively. “The tropical climate makes this a challenging place to build golf,” he said. “We intend to start construction in September, after the rainy season has finished, to minimise the potential for erosion damage, and we intend to keep tree clearance to a minimum.”
Andrew Goosen, who will make regular trips to the project from his base in South Africa, is excited by the potential of the site. He said: “The property is right next to the Calabar River, which is about 700 metres wide at this point, and that, combined with the significant changes in elevation gives us wonderful vistas. The dense tropical valleys, forests and rubber trees found on the site will make for beautiful golf holes. Our next step is to make a very detailed analysis of the site so our design will work in harmony with the existing site conditions. We hope the course, like the rest of the project, will serve as an economic engine to assist the development of the Calabar region.”