New Gary Player course takes shape in Montenegro

  • Lustica Bay Golf Gary Player
    Gary Player Design

    A visualisation of the Gary Player Design layout at Lustica Bay in Montenegro

  • Lustica Bay Golf Gary Player
    Gary Player Design

    An aerial of the site where the course is to be built

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Construction is under way on the Lustica Bay golf course in Montenegro. The layout has been designed by Gary Player and his lead associate Steven McFarlane.

Lustica Development and Orascom Development Holdings are financing the development – on the Lustica Peninsula, a little south of Dubrovnik in Croatia, on the Adriatic Sea – where a marina, village and five-star hotel, The Chedi Luštica Bay, are now all complete.

“The property is on a spectacular site overlooking the Adriatic Sea,” said Player, whose firm developed a masterplan for the layout in 2012, working alongside architects EDSA. “The topography is quite severe and very rocky with low growing vegetation throughout; it also has an elevation difference of more than 200 metres. A detailed programme was prepared to balance earthworks and to excavate down into the site to produce natural looking holes that transition into the surrounding terrain.

“Fairways have been designed with bold contours and multiple tiers to traverse the steep gradients. Great care has been taken to preserve as much of the surrounding vegetation to create an immediate maturity for the golf course.”

ProGolf began construction in 2023 and will complete the course in phases. Bunkers are being built with the EcoBunker system. “The steep topography of the site influenced the design of greens and bunkers,” said Player. “Bunkers are predominantly small bold features with steep grass faces that punctuate and define the undulating and rolling fairways and green complexes.

“Greens are slightly smaller than we would normally design so that they sit as naturally as possible into the terrain. This will make approach shots into them quite challenging, but on almost every hole, the high side of each green will be very receptive and provide a bailout option for the less proficient golfer. The creeping bentgrass putting surfaces will be very fast so we have designed gentle contours to accommodate multiple pin locations. The stylised and manicured green complexes will create a stunning contrast with the surrounding rugged natural terrain.”

Nine holes are expected to be ready by 2026 and the full eighteen open by 2028.

“The main factors that influenced the routing were the steep topography, dramatic elevation changes, long range views of the Adriatic Sea, Kotor Bay and Boka Bay mountains, and the integration of the holes with the proposed villa development,” said Player. “The rocky nature of the substrata is extremely challenging and will require jackhammers to be used on every hole. One valuable benefit of this is that we are processing the rock on site to produce our own gravel for capping and drainage.

“With so many incredible holes with stunning panoramic views, it is difficult to pick just one standout. But I would say the run of holes from fourteen to seventeen is going to be an incredible combination. This sequence contains two par threes, a par four and a par five all playing downhill with views of the Adriatic on every shot.”

Lustica Bay will be the first golf course in Montenegro. “It is with great pride that we are expanding the game of golf around the world,” said Player.

This article first appeared in the April 2024 issue of Golf Course ArchitectureFor a printed subscription or free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.