The Week That Was, december 18, 2011

December 18, 2011
By Robert J. Vasilak

. . . england A Long Shot for Longshot?

Citizens groups in suburban London, England have turned a cold shoulder to a proposed golf course that would be designed by David McLay Kidd.

The 18-hole track is to be the featured attraction of a 370-acre community near Leatherhead in Surrey. Longshot, Ltd., a group led by Joel Cadbury and Ollie Vigors, wants to convert the property’s crumbling manor house, known as Cherkley Court, into a boutique hotel with restaurants, a spa, and a health club. Alongside the hotel, Longshot hopes to build an ultra-luxurious private club featuring Kidd’s 18-hole golf course.

Cadbury told the BBC that Longshot’s goal is “to bring Cherkley back to life.” But some of the area’s residents contend that the company’s proposal runs afoul of local planning regulations and would degrade what’s been described as “an outstanding stretch of beautiful land.”

“A golf course would be artificial and spoil the landscape,” one of them argued.

Cherkley Court is the former home of Max Aitken (also known as Lord Beaverbrook), a Fleet Street press baron whom Kidd describes as “a 19th-century version of Rupert Murdock.” During World War II, Beaverbrook served as England’s minister of aircraft production and was a key member of Winston Churchill’s war cabinet. Before he died, in 1964, he entertained a parade of important historical figures at the estate, among them Churchill, Rudyard Kipling, H. G. Wells, and David Lloyd George.

Cadbury and Vigors bought the estate earlier this year and submitted their development plans to local officials a few months ago. The partners founded Longshot in 1994, as a holding company for their investments in London-area leisure and entertainment venues. Among their creations were the city’s first 24-hour restaurant and several pubs, night clubs, and eateries. They sold many of their holdings in 2007, reportedly for more than $80 million.

Just weeks ago, when I last spoke with Kidd, he said that he hopes to break ground on the course at Cherkley Court in the fall of 2012. The Bend, Oregon-based architect, a proponent of “purist” golf, says the 7,000-yard layout will be “ragged at the edges” and “very natural,” suited more to its members’ talents than to tournament ambitions.

The fate of Longshot’s proposal will likely be known next spring.

Some information in this post originally appeared in the June 2011 and December 2011 issues of the World Edition of the Golf Course Report.

And in Other News . . .

. . . china Moratoriums again be damned: Rick Jacobson reports that construction has wrapped up on his 18-hole golf course at Moganshan Gowin Golf Club near Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province. A press release issued by the Libertyville, Illinois-based architect states that the track will be the centerpiece of “an environmentally sensitive mixed-use development that includes hotel, residential, and retail elements.” The 7,100-yard course is scheduled to open in the spring of 2012, and it doesn’t sound as if it was designed to be a soft touch for the tourists who beat a trail to Moganshan Mountain. According to the press release, the course “winds through mountains and valleys and boasts water features on 13 of its 18 holes.” What’s more, “dramatic elevation changes” of more than 80 feet will surely tax any vacationers who brave the track on foot, and Jacobson’s “strategic bunkering” -- is there any other kind? -- will provide a challenge even to “the highly skilled international professional.” China’s golf developers have a reputation for building difficult golf courses, and it appears that Jacobson, who’s designed four other courses in the People’s Republic, is cultivating a reputation as an architect who can give them what they want.

Some information in this post originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of the World Edition of the Golf Course Report.

. . . united states Speaking of China, the good times continue to roll for Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley, who’ve been named the architects of the year by Golf magazine. This is the latest in a string of recent accolades for the Scottsdale, Arizona-based partners, who’ve also been recognized as the “best golf course architects” by Asian Golf Monthly and as two of the “most influential” U.S. architects by Golf, Inc. The long-time partners have never won much acclaim for their work in the United States, but they’ve raised their status considerably with a series of high-profile projects in the People's Republic, notably the Mission Hills resorts in Shenzhen and on Hainan Island. As a result, today they’re arguably the busiest architects on the planet. “Since Lee and I founded the firm in 1997, we’ve been devoted to designing fun-to-play golf courses built on time and under budget,” Curley said in a press release. “We're proud of our pioneering ways and very bullish on golf’s future in China and throughout the Pacific Rim.” Golf also put a little icing on the Schmidt-Curley cake: It ranked the duo’s Lava Fields track at Mission Hills Haikou as this year’s the best new international course.

. . . united states Jack Nicklaus, speaking last fall, compared the U.S. economy to the rest of the world’s: “I haven't been to a country in the last year where the outlook is as bad economically as it is here for us.”

. . . wild card click Are you feeling lucky?

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The stories on this page were written by Robert J. Vasilak and originally appeared at World Golf Report, a blog that also posts news about U.S. golf development and other fun stuff. Visit us at http://www.WorldGolfReport.blogspot.com