So, Lustica Bay Golf Course is completed?
Lustica Bay is a golf course project that we at Player Design are very excited to see open. All courses come with their own unique challenges. Like any of our global projects, it’s a process. Currently, the course is under construction, and targeting the first 9-holes to open next year and the full 18-holes opening in 2021.
The name of the other project in Montenegro?
The Balkans is a beautiful part of the world. We would be delighted to start another project in Montenegro or the surrounding countries, but Lustica Bay is the one we are focusing on at the moment. Our design team is working on some feasibility studies for projects in Albania, Bosnia, Serbia and Romania so it’s a very active part of the world for us right now.
First impression of the site?
I was amazed by the beauty of the property, wildlife and natural terrain with the incredible views over the Adriatic Sea. That’s something rare for a golf course design site, being able to see the water from almost all of the holes.
And the other holes, players have breathtaking views of the Kotor Bay and the mountains beyond. No doubt it will be spectacular course when it opens.
What’s unique? Compare to all the other countries you have visited?
What really stands out to me is Montenegro’s overall tourism potential. Not that I have explored the country in its entirety, but it has a very undeveloped old world feel. That we look at that as a positive attribute. The sky is the limit. What is the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Speaking of Rome, Montenegro had this unique historical feel to it, which can help with tourism and we hope we can also help by designing and building some wonderful golf courses and resorts.
How many countries in the world have a Gary Player Designed course? What’s next?
Our design portfolio boasts more than 400 projects in 38 countries across five continents. Currently our team is working on new projects in Australia, Morocco, Vietnam, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, Cuba, India and South Africa.
Is Lustica Bay a ”typical” Gary Player Design, or what is your best way to describe the design? Bunkers, greens, environmental ideas?
Not at all. The course has dramatic elevation changes throughout the layout. The topography is quite steep so the shaping and contouring will be very bold and dynamic with stepped fairways, small cavernous bunkers, and small putting surfaces that will nestle into the steep topography.
We are going to manufacture our own capping sand from the excavated rock by crushing it to the appropriate specification and all the irrigation water will be treated effluent from the nearby town.
Any nice words about the views of the Adriatic and Boa Bay?
We were absolutely thrilled to secure such a beautiful piece of property for what is going to be a outstanding course. We think of designing a golf course as a privilege to work with nature and a way of introducing people from all over the world to places they would possibly never visit. This particular part of the world is so incredibly beautiful and tranquil, and the view of the Adriatic Sea and Kotor Bay enhances the whole visual appeal.
What can you tell me about the investment? Who is the investor? How involved is the country of Montenegro? Is golf a part of a project of developing tourism and local business?
Orascom out of Egypt have partnered with the Montenegro government. Anytime a country starts investing in golf, you can bet it’s to enhance their tourism industry. It’s happening all over the world.
The Masterplan – residences, hotels, marina, golf… What’s the time schedule? Is the Golf Hotel open 2019?
The Marina and Chedi hotel is completed and opened last year, the marina village residences are also open. For the golf, 9 holes will open in 2020 and 18 ready for play in by 2021.
Any stories from Montenegro?
Having travelled maybe more than any person in history, definitely sportsmen, you have to remember there is still a whole world out there you haven’t seen. The historic walled town of Kotor is only a 15 minute drive from the golf course in a town that dates back to the 5th century. It’s an amazing little town for some sightseeing or great food and drinks after a game of golf at Lustica Bay.
Are there any local golfers in Montenegro?
My goal is to grow the game of golf globally. A task I have undertaken since my prime when The Big Three were playing all of the world. And we’ve seen golf take off in countries like Japan, India and China. Several Top 100 players in the world now hale from those countries. As a country, you have to believe that if you start making golf a priority and develop talent at the youth level, you will find the gem that become a Major Champion. Think Henrik Stenson from Sweden or Novak Djokovic from Serbia.
To be honest, it is my understanding there are not many local golfers, but already the locals are interested. The practice driving range, which opened last year, is being used just as if the course was open for play. So, it’s nice to see the excitement building as we get closer to opening day.