Golf Course Architecture - Issue 64, April 2021

77 the seed of making golf an integral part of the lifestyle of Saudi Arabia,” says Al Sorour. “He has said we have to improve the life of Saudi people. And seeing greens around you will improve your life.” Al Sorour currently expects 13-16 new courses to be built in the Kingdom by 2030. To date, details of just two of these have been announced. Greg Norman’s firm has signed an agreement to create a 27-hole golf course as part of a new residential district developed by the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, in a valley northwest of Riyadh. Speaking about the project at the Golf Saudi Summit in 2020, Norman said: “I have never designed anything on this scale before, the site is massive, and the cliffs are magnificent. There will not be a lot of blowing up or moving around which fits into my mantra of the ‘least disturbance approach’. Once I walked the site and understood the corridors and the land plan, I was mesmerised by it.” And in early 2021, Golf Saudi announced that Nicklaus Design will create a new golf course as part of the massive Qiddiya development, supported by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, that is already in construction southwest of Riyadh. Qiddiya is expected to become the capital for sports, entertainment and the arts in Saudi Arabia, with residential, retail, hospitality and industrial components that will stretch over a 100 square kilometre area. The first phase, scheduled to open in 2023, will feature a Six Flags theme park. The new golf course will be framed by the Tuwaiq mountain range. Jack Nicklaus says: “I’ve already spent time looking at the topography of the land, images of the backdrop and terrain, and discussing with our design team a strategy for the course. The design will fully integrate the natural environment and the beautiful Qiddiya Plans for a new residential district close to the 18th century city of Diriyah include a 27-hole course designed by Greg Norman’s firm Photo: Diriyah Gate Development Authority As Golf Saudi moves forward with its ambitious plans for golf course development in the Kingdom, Atlas Turf International is their designated partner for sustainable turfgrasses. The two companies are working together to establish a turf farm in Saudi Arabia, which will offer licensed and certified turfgrasses. Currently under construction, the farm will grow paspalum, bermuda and zoysia grass varieties specifically selected for genetic purity, as well as maximum sustainability and performance in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region. The chosen varieties offer dialled-in turf solutions for the unique climate through salt, heat and drought tolerance, requirement of fewer inputs and quicker establishment and grow-in rates. “Given the importance that Golf Saudi has placed on sustainability, we have challenged Atlas Turf to help us create a vital part of the supply chain with locally grown, environmentally appropriate turfgrasses,” says Majed Al Sorour, CEO of Golf Saudi. Also, in line with Golf Saudi’s goals, the turf farm will include a research facility to develop improved varieties of turfgrass and a training programme for Saudi nationals interested in pursuing careers in turf management, production and research. “The opportunity to partner with Golf Saudi on this progressive endeavour is a major step forward for us,” says John Holmes, president of Atlas Turf. “Our focus has always been to provide high-quality turf that meets both design and environmental challenges. This joint venture allows us to advance even further by incorporating sustainability at the farm level, the project level and beyond.” Sustainable partnership Golf Saudi has teamed up with Atlas Turf for sustainable turfgrass excellence SAUD I ARAB I A