APDC is always where it’s at, and where it is currently is in China. Arnie built the first course in the Middle Kingdom in the 1980s, and his legacy has only grown since then. One of the more dramatic jobs underway, the Golf Club at Kunming is approximately a year away from opening. Tremendous (and we mean BIG) elevation changes, breathtaking views, craggy cliffs and a massive lake all add to this course’s appeal, which will be visually arresting and playfully challenging.
“There are some forced carries,” says Brandon Johnson, the APDC architect who’s been working on the project since the start. “Numbers 12 and 14 especially, there are big ravines in front of them and it’s dramatic. There’s room for error but, yeah, if you miss it there, wide in the right spot, you fall off into oblivion.” Fair warning to those with vertigo.
Another course in Kunming, the specifically named Chinese Entrepreneur Home Golf Club, is set for development close to the city center. Featuring a narrow freshwater lake approximately 5 miles in length, this course will eventually offer 27 holes to residents and visitors and, says APDC architect David Couch, everyone should love the mountain and lake views, no matter their ability.
APDC is working on yet another China course, this one approximately 45 minutes from Chengdu. It has mountains as well but they’re a bit different, says Thad Layton, APDC architect.
“Usually mountains are arranged such that they form ridge lines that connect.” In contrast, he says, “These look like they’re dropped out of the sky… Independent mountains, thousands of feet high.”
A quick river flows through this dramatic landscape, and around that will eventually play one of the finest golf courses in the country, courtesy of APDC. Much of the course will incorporate or bear testament to the terraced slopes, which historically have held kiwi, rice and other crops. Some of those will be maintained; others will fall into play—so look for unique elevation features.
Currently set to be named Panda Valley Golf Course, the property is just 50 miles from a reserve that protects the black-and-white bamboo munchers.
Further south, Johnson has been working on a course in Cambodia with APDC associate John Hamilton. The center lines are cleared and proper development is set to begin in 2010 for this course, which should be a stunner.
In addition to courses already underway, there are a few yet to begin that require a ticket abroad: APDC’s Eric Wiltse has been busy in Brazil on a property near Sao Paolo that, he says, reminds him of the rolling hills of Kentucky. Fazenda Boa Vista should provide 36 holes of play, 18 courtesy of APDC, and offer a bit of rustic beauty for golfers who make the trek to the land of Carnivale. We might see more Palmer courses in Brazil and other countries in South America as well, says APDC Executive Vice President and Senior Architect Erik Larsen. With golf anticipated to be approved as a sport for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil specifically and the continent as a whole could experience a new relationship with the game.
Likewise, projects in Costa Rica, Moscow, Romania and other international locations are all possibilities, with more coming every day.
Closer to home, APDC has been busy with some remodeling—of golf courses, that is. Their offices at Bay Hill are just fine for the moment. An exciting new facet of APDC’s operations, remodeling existing courses allows the Palmer touch to be brought to properties that have solid integrity, but perhaps need a bit of a facelift. Already benefitting from APDC’s remodeling work, Wake Forest University has a new practice facility. An existing 5-acre site has been expanded into an 18-acre state-of-the-art gem with 360 degrees of hitting toward an interior range, with indoor hitting bays for rainy Carolina days and everything a team could want for working on its game.
“Basically they went from No.100 to No.1,” says Wiltse. “It’s one of the best—if not THE best—best practice facilities in the country.”
Also benefitting from a recent APDC remodel is King’s Challenge in Cedar, Michigan, near Traverse City. As the course’s Web site has it, “King’s Challenge is an old Arnold Palmer gem tucked away in the quiet green hills of Leelanau County.” Under new ownership since May, “Work has been underway since then, both to realize Palmer’s original goals for the course and to add a host of exciting new details.”
Construction is going forward quickly (one of the owners is a top golf course construction company), and so Michiganders could be enjoying the new course as early as next year.
Going forward, remodeling should be a strong component of APDC’s operations as it not only allows the firm to bring its design expertise to courses in need of modernization, but its contacts as well. Look for new APDC courses—or look to re-visit old favorites touched-up by APDC—soon, whether your passport’s up to date or not.