Hanse going away from minimalism for Trump course in Dubai

Exactly how committed is Gil Hanse to minimalist principles?

I raise the issue because the Donald Trump-endorsed architect has decided to go full-tilt maximalist with his forthcoming course in the desert outside Dubai. “I’d be lying if I say that we are going to have a minimalistic approach to this golf course,” he told Sport360 after a recent two-day site visit. “We will have to be very creative, but we will have to move a lot of earth.”

The site, alas, is a flat, nearly featureless expanse of desert, much like the one outside Las Vegas that Tom Fazio turned into Shadow Creek Golf Club. And like Fazio, who is often criticized for taking liberties with a landscape, Hanse intends to create something from nothing.

“It represents a different path for what my partner, Jim Wagner, and I have been doing,” Hanse explained. “Most of the golf courses we have built are on great natural sites. . . .  Trump International Dubai will show a side of our creativity to take a site that lacks those natural advantages and to create something very special out of it. It will show another aspect of the talent that we possess.”

These are among the compromises that a designer is required to make as his work becomes valued and more lucrative opportunities come his way. A philosophy is one thing, and a paycheck is another.


"Minimalism" is often a lazy tag in golf architecture. Creating superb holes in exceptionally well suited natural terrain should always be an essay in minimalism - it makes no sense to do otherwise . But true success demands exquisite judgement by the architect. Creating a superb course out of wholly unpromising territory is a sea-change in many respects but keen, honest and mature judgement remains the architect's key determinant of keeping true to a personal philosophy of producing exceptional golf holes. It is quite wrong to consider taking on fascinating professional challenges as "selling out". Let's see Gil's work speak.

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