Golf Course Architecture - Issue 72, April 2023

39 The practice academy has an amphitheatre setting, framed by high ridges grassing has started on the practice academy. Grassing will continue on the short-game area and nine-hole academy course and then we’ll move on to the 18-hole championship course. Our goal is to have all grassing completed by mid-2023 and open the course later in the year. What is the site like? The site at Wadi Safar is one of the most dramatic I’ve ever had to work with. There’s a high plateau that sits about 50 metres above a large wadi with natural ravines carved into the landscape. The plateau is framed by high ridges on all sides and that is where the hotels and residences will be. We routed all but the starting and finishing holes of the championship course on top of the plateau and holes one, sixteen, seventeen and eighteen play down off the plateau adjacent to the main wadi. The sheer scale of the surrounding landscape at Wadi Safar is stunning and it’s truly one of the most unique and special sites I’ve ever had the opportunity to work on. To have massive landforms that it took Mother Nature thousands of years to create framing the views in every direction while playing golf is truly spectacular and we’ve tried our best to incorporate them, either visually or physically, into every golf hole on the course. The academy course also sits in the lower part of the site and the practice academy is in an amphitheatre setting, framed by high ridges on all sides. It’s an extremely rugged, rocky site with very little existing vegetation, so there’s not a lot that’s conducive to golf from a construction standpoint. But from a design perspective, the high plateau has good width for golf and the ravines provided a different, but equally dramatic, setting for the starting and finishing holes. The visual sensation of having golf holes framed by such rugged, mountainous terrain will be magnificent. You recently visited the site and tweaked the routing; can you explain the changes? From the first site visit, we knew that most of the holes on the championship course would be routed on the plateau, and the academy course will have lighting for night golf, so it made sense to route it on the lower part of the site away from the hotels and residences. But it was during a site visit I made after the earthworks were underway that the idea of playing the finishing holes down next to the wadi came to me. It’s a fairly drastic elevation change and took some effort to figure out, but It’s an extraordinary part of the site and I’m very happy with how those holes play and fit into the natural landscape.