Construction work is progressing on the first golf course to be laid out in Iraq. Designed by golf course architect Cynthia Dye McGarey, the course is located in Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, in the north of the country.
The first phase of work was completed last year and included grassing the practice area, and holes ten to twelve and sixteen to eighteen. All other holes were rough-shaped in autumn, prior to the region’s rainy season. Turkish contractor Daax Construction began the second phase of work in March 2021, with golf course construction management handled by Golf International.
“Due to the travel restrictions imposed, the shapers were not allowed to leave the country,” said O’Brien McGarey, CEO and president of Dye Designs. “So construction work continued throughout the summer. Before then, Cynthia was making regular site visits to Erbil but has been ‘grounded’ in the USA since the onset of the pandemic.”
The architect has managed to keep up to date with the project’s progress remotely, making design decisions and passing on comments to the shapers every few days.
“The course is routed through a valley,” said Dye McGarey. “Most holes border a meandering stream and lakes that flow from the north end of the site to the south. Mediterranean-style villas will surround the perimeter of the course on the adjacent hills.
“The site was previously planted with wheat and had several goat farms. It reminds me of the site at Paiute Golf Resort in Las Vegas, but Erbil has more topography, and the dirt is better. The weather is similar too, cold winters and hot summers, although Erbil gets more rain.”
Greens are seeded with Pure Distinction bentgrass and fairways with Latitude 36 hybrid bermuda, imported from Atlas Turf International in the USA. “The plan is to harvest stolons from the driving range to grass the remainder of the golf course,” said Dye McGarey.
The golf course is irrigated throughout, with water coming from several wells located on site. The community will get supplemental water piped in from the north. Toro’s irrigation products have been selected on the project, with Turkish distributor Golf International providing the materials and supervising the installation, which was completed in autumn 2020.
“This golf community will be a very nice addition to Erbil,” said Dye McGarey. “Since there is not a lot of recreational activities in Erbil, the people seem to be very excited about this project. Hopefully, just as the Azeris have taken to playing golf, the Iraqis – given this opportunity to play – will embrace the game.”
This article first appeared in the October 2021 issue of Golf Course Architecture. For a printed subscription or free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.