Construction work on the first golf course in the Russian city of Vladivostok, a co-design by Jari Rasinkangas, Ronald Fream and George Philpott, is scheduled to begin in April.
The 18-hole course will be the centrepiece of the Vladivostok Golf Club & Resort development on 300-acre site 30 miles north of the city centre, which will also feature a hotel, housing and other recreational activities.
Rasinkangas said that his firm, GolfArk, was chosen because of the success of its first Russian project, Strawberry Fields Golf Club in St Petersburg.
“According to the client, my long experience in hard winter conditions was important in the selection process,” said Rasinkangas. “In Vladivostok, the cold and long winter months with only a little or no snow cover will be challenging to keep the turf alive.
“Living in Northern Finland near the Arctic Circle, I have nearly 40 years’ experience in long and difficult winter conditions on golf courses. Design and construction solutions with turf grass selection in cold climates was something the client valued in their selection.”
Philpott, of Legacy Golf Course Architecture, said: “Jari brought me in along with Ron to form a team. The three of us go way back – almost 20 years. Jari was our project manager for construction at Oulu Golf Club in Finland when I was working with Ron at Golfplan. We are all now independent and have come together for this project.
“The project was catalysed by economic incentive programmes started by Vladimir Putin's government, which was initiated in 2017 to stimulate development and growth in Far East Russia.”
The initial target market will be golfers from South Korea, Japan and China.
“As this is a resort development, in our design we chose to include wide fairways, multiple teeing options/lengths, and contouring that encourages a variety of shot options. Strategic bunkering and interaction with the existing creeks will keep the players engaged in their round and thinking about their play options,” said Philpott.
“I am a big proponent of offering clear risk/reward options, heroic opportunities, and this course is no exception. With varied strategy, contouring, and elevation changes, we sought to make each hole a unique piece of a greater puzzle, so one would be hard pressed to single out a signature hole, per se. I guess you could say our signature is eighteen letters long.”
“The site is very appropriate for golf, rolling hills with sweeping views towards the surrounding deciduous forests. A number of spring-fed creeks run through the property, and we have taken advantage of these with some clever golf hole routing. These springs will provide ample clean water for irrigation, which we will store on site via construction of large irrigation lakes.
“Vegetation on the site is quite diverse. As far as trees go, there are Mongolian oaks, birch trees, maples, and others existing on site. In fall, the trees turn brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red. Down in the low-lying creek areas, large fern groves add to the palette.
“To preserve the natural vegetation, we have done our best to carefully route the golf holes, respecting the natural topography of the land.
“Wildlife abounds here, even the footprints of a Siberian Tiger cub have been spotted! There are forested areas on the site as well as some open meadows with very tall indigenous grasses.”
“The golf course has been designed to give the option of one or two-phase construction for our client. In addition to the golf course, we also have a high-end driving range with covered tee option and related practice facilities.”
The project was highlighted at the 2018 Eastern Economic Forum, attended by Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and others. The total investment in will exceed 4.2 billion roubles (£50 million) and is expected to create over 270 jobs.
“Other developments to draw tourism such as hotels and casinos are also slated to occur,” said Philpott. “The goals of our development are to create an eco-oriented golf course and recreation community, complete with hotel, spa, residential housing, cross country skiing, water park, equestrian facilities, mountain bike trails, and even a gun range.”