The Legacy course at Forest City Golf Resort in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, has opened for play. The course, designed by Nicklaus Design, is the first of three layouts to be built at the new resort.
The golf resort is part of the huge Forest City development, a US$100 billion real estate project on 30 square kilometres of land, including reclaimed islands in the straits between Malaysia and Singapore. The project is a joint venture between China-based development company Country Garden Pacificview and Esplanade Danga 88, an investment company owned by the Johor State Government. The venture includes the planned construction of housing and associated facilities for 700,000 people.
The new golf course is located among mangrove forest on the Pulai River. “The golf area was low lying, so needed to be elevated out of the tidal fluctuation zone,” said Sean Quinn, design associate at Nicklaus Design. “Dredged ocean sand was imported from a shipping channel some 200 kilometres away. Over 2.5 million cubic metres of sand were used to create the course. The imported ocean sand remains unirrigated, so the sandy waste areas create separation of individual holes.
“The mangrove trees have been carefully preserved,” said Quinn. “Coconut palms were also planted throughout the course. The river surrounds the entire property but the mangroves visually obscure the views. The river is however visible from holes four and fifteen.
“There is one notable natural landform on the property – a ‘sacred hill’ – 25 metres high and has been used as a focal point to start and finish the course. Both holes nine and eighteen use the hill as a backdrop to the finishing greens.
“USGA specification green and bunker sand was sourced nearby. Sea shore paspaylum was the grass of choice throughout, given the salinity of the irrigation water."
The project design commenced in February 2017, and construction started in June of that year.
“The underlying ground was soft and tended to subside over the first 24 hours after fill was placed, additional fill needed to be added to maintain designed elevations,” said Quinn. “The construction timeframe was extremely quick but could only go as fast as the sand could be imported.”
Jack Nicklaus and Jack Nicklaus II made site visits, and Quinn was on site regularly throughout construction. “I personally like to finish each green with a sand-pro,” he said.
The lead shaper for the project was John Carson; Rain Bird oversaw irrigation; Darren Moore of Nicklaus Design took charge of agronomy services; and the golf course superintendent is James Gordon.
A sizeable short-game area was created with chipping and putting areas; a combined green area of 1,600 square metres. There is also a full-length driving range with tees at each end. One end has a covered tee with VIP zone and private academy.
The golf course opened for play in September 2018. The opening event included a groundbreaking ceremony for the second and third courses, which are reported to be designed by one of the directors from Country Garden Pacificview.