The first nine holes at Viveiro Golf Course have opened for play on the island of Sal, which is part of the Cape Verde archipelago.
Italian agronomist Fulvio Bani is leading the project on the desert island that is located 350 miles off the west coast of Africa. The development includes 27 holes of golf along with a clubhouse, hotel, leisure facilities and residential areas.
“The strong influence of the wind, which comes exclusively from the northeast and can sometimes reach up to 65 knots, and the need to save water, led us to create grassy playing areas interrupted by coarse sand sections,” said Bani. “My design avoids penalising the average golfer.
“We have used sand that is resistant to the force of wind – the few sand bunkers are small and deep to avoid their emptying by the wind. We also considered the wind’s presence for the placement of tees.”
The golf covers about 280,000 square metres, with the holes built on a stony soil site. The island is almost absent of rainfall, experiencing around 350 days of sunshine a year.
“The orography of the terrain, especially in the steep areas, required us to soften and shape fairways to optimise the visibility of landing areas and spots near greens. As there are no trees on the site, we planted some tall, native trees to improve visibility of playing areas and to increase the perception distances, especially for doglegs and behind greens.”
Bani has designed greens to accommodate five to six pin positions per hole, giving the facility plenty of options for greens setup and providing players with variety in terms of approach shots.
“This site presented us with various challenges, including the presence of stones and its complete sterility from an agronomic point of view,” said Bani. “These issues made earthmoving and installing drainage and irrigation complicated. We lacked the possibility of obtaining irrigation water from the soil, so external supplies such as wastewater from purification or desalination were our only options.
“Drainage has been set up in a way that prevents areas of water stagnation, while irrigation deals with a fundamental aspect related to the birth and preservation of excellent turf and tree heritage.”
A Rain Bird irrigation system, with an IC computer control system, has been installed and consists of more than 550 sprinklers, an automatic mains filter and high-density polyethylene piping.
Paspalum Vaginatum from the Pure Dynasty variety has been selected for all playing surfaces. “High temperatures heavily influenced our choice as they needed to be resistant to the hot climate and to the lack of water. Pure Dynasty turned out to be less demanding in terms of fertilising, resistant to fungal diseases, and practically unassailable by weeds, resulting in zero use of any type of crop protection products.”