Golf Course Architecture - Issue 75, January 2024

47 EYEBROW (E.G. BLINDNESS) Of course – even if it were large enough to host a real-world course, it would be inconceivable to construct golf in a location this sensitive. But for virtual golf, it is perfect. “The location is truly superb, on the edge of Loch Shieldaig, the continuation of Loch Torridon,” says Goetz. “The peninsula features breathtaking views to the Loch and surrounding mountainsides. Its dramatic rocky landforms and extensive shoreline provide an ideal canvas for a unique and exciting golf experience that will translate well to the virtual world. I cannot wait to visit the site in person to gain additional inspiration and insight to translate into the design work. Reimagining the Caledonian forest on the site and integrating the course within it will be an exciting and rare design opportunity.” The golf design process takes place on a digital twin of the terrain, using lidar (light detection and ranging) data, high-definition aerial photography, and digital terrain maps transformed into contour maps. The actual golf design commences with a hand-drawn preliminary routing map, mirroring the approach taken with physical golf courses. Goetz says: “Thus far, we have approached the design process for Rocabarra Cliffs in the exact manner that we develop all new designs around the world.” “The peninsula at Shieldaig is almost treeless now but before the earliest farmers 6,000 years ago, the thin soils supported a diverse woodland ecosystem of great richness,” says Dr Richard Tipping, former University of Stirling professor, whose research work focuses on Scotland’s environmental archaeology and the changes in vegetation over the ages. Dr Tipping is also the scientific brain behind Hyperscapes GC’s virtual rewilding initiative. “The few surviving remnants on the Scottish west coast are dubbed the ‘Atlantic rainforest’, mixes of different tree species including the iconic Scots pine, now rare on the west coast. Different soils and exposures to Atlantic storms created a mosaic of woodland and open patches, with havens for wildlife.” The ‘course’ is expected to be open for play in the second half of this year. DESIGNING FOR THE YOUNG “ The golf design process takes place on a digital twin of the terrain, using lidar data, high-definition aerial photography and digital terrain maps” Nicklaus Design is approaching the design of Hyperscapes Golf Club, the world’s first virtual-only golf course, in the same way as it would approach a real-world project Images: Nicklaus Design