Although there are numerous attractions and recreational opportunities from hot tubs and saunas to swimming pools and fitness centres, the key component to the project’s success remains the golf course. Robert Trent Jones Junior was engaged and given the brief to design something special. A highly intelligent and cultured man, with a string of great courses throughout the world longer than a JB Holmes drive, he set about creating something rather sublime. Together with his principal lieutenant, Bruce Charlton, he recognised that the task required enormous care; for here was an area of exceptional environmental sensitivity.
For some, the existence of what might be termed “constraining considerations” would be regarded as a real nuisance. But Robert Trent Jones and his team embraced the challenge with enthusiasm because they recognise that a golf course must be in harmony with the nature and environment that surrounds it.
So when the cream of the world’s golf journalists flew in last autumn for the official unveiling, there was much to admire. But however opulent the properties or swanky the spa, the focus of attention turned to the latest creation from one of the world’s most renowned golf course architects.
There are designers who, knowing that it’s fashionable and might spike the guns of the eco-warriors, readily pay lip-service to the concept of environmental awareness. But they often lack conviction and are reluctant to make any serious sacrifices. RTJ Junior and his team met with the local environmentalists, talked to the experts and ensured that the course would do as little as possible to disturb – and even less to harm – the flora and fauna that inhabit the area.
It would be wrong to assume that all the environmental constraints have had no adverse impact whatsoever on the creation of player-friendly courses. In the case of the Lubker Resort, some holes are clearly rather more awkward than they might otherwise have been because of the need to avoid sensitive areas. But having to play an enforced lay-up with a lofted club rather than smash a fairway wood is a small price to pay for not violating the harmony that develops between golfer and nature during the course of a round.
“We believe that preserving the natural beauty of a site contributes to the pleasure of the golfing experience,” commented Robert Trent Jones Jnr. “We see ourselves as trustees of a great tradition of golf course architecture. On our courses, nature works in harmony with the values of the Royal and Ancient game.”
Doubtless aware of the respect paid to her, nature rewarded he developers by revealing to them an enormous depth of sand that lay beneath the surface soil. As well as ensuring wonderful drainage for the course, this facilitated the creation of spectacular waste bunkers that now provide dramatic visual contrast with the lush grass and endow the course with its superb definition. Other features include clumps of almost impenetrable rough (you can trust me on that), attractive wispy grasses, adjacent woodland and gently rolling terrain.