PHNOM PENH CITY, Cambodia – Construction has started on two 18-hole golf courses, designed by Brian Curley of Schmidt-Curley Design, and scheduled to open in 2024 at a new club here

This article first appeared in the October 2022 issue of Golf Course Architecture.

The East course will be a formal, parkland layout, while the West will feature a more rugged and natural design centered around large expanses of sand, dotted with islands of native grasses and groves of date trees.

Detailed shaping is in progress on the East, while the West is still in the rough grading process, and the work is being handled by an in-house team along with Martin Moore’s Flagstick Golf Course Construction.

There will be limited residential development around the property’s perimeter. 

“Our clients have decided to place the golf experience first and foremost to create the best courses in the country,” said Curley. “There is also a strong desire to create two distinctly different layouts, so every effort has been made to optimise this wish.

“A massive amount of earthmoving was undertaken to create large bodies of water for irrigation use, and the excavated dirt was used to lift grades above flood levels. The design and grading efforts were also used to create vast, sweeping open views across the lakes, establishing a distinct character that will be drastically different from other courses in the marketplace.

“There is plenty of cross slope on many fairways and a strong reliance on surface drainage, not catch basins. Much of the dirt was placed under the golf holes as opposed to creating mounds framing each hole, as so many courses do. There was an emphasis on creating landforms, not mounding, so the courses feel as if they were laid out upon a naturally golf-friendly terrain.”

Curley says the excavation of lakes enabled them to lift the courses out of the floodplain. 

“While the lakes are a very dominant feature of the landscape, there was a strong effort in the design to incorporate the water features into play, but always with more than adequate width. We have made sure to not have water in play hole after hole. The concept was to create wide views over water but without a relentless attack of demanding shots with water in play.”

The greens will feature significant contour, both within the putting surface as well as drop-off edges, backstops, feeder slopes and ridges.

“Standout holes on the East include the drivable par-four seventh with multiple tee options and a long, thin, fall-away green,” said Curley. “And the par-five eighteenth, which plays from a massive landform creating an elevated tee shot looking back to the clubhouse.

“The West will be highlighted with a strong variety of holes with massive sandy waste lows and the occasional landform that sometimes blinds tee shots to the wrong side of the wide fairway. As with the East course, the par-five eighteenth also plays from the same massive landform offering long views across the landscape. 

“I also expect the long par-three 16th to be a pivotal hole, but I am focusing on variety within a common playbook to make the courses as memorable as possible.”

An island-green 19th will lie between the two finishing holes. The green will be directly beneath the clubhouse and reachable by boat, making for an exciting all-or-nothing bonus hole for either course.

“I am very pleased with the design we have established and the innovative elements we have incorporated, and I believe the courses will soon become the most favoured in the region,” said Curley.

Grassing of the East course has started, with Sports Turf Solutions providing Zeon Zoysia for short grass areas and Primo Zoysia for greens, with bahia to be used for rough.

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