Friday, July 5, 2013

New Construction--Fazenda Boa Vista, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil
I've recently returned from a 5 week work trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil, designing and building sand traps on a brand new golf course in Brazil.  The golf course is being built for the residents of a large upscale housing development just over an hour outside of Sao Paulo.  Thad Layton, Senior architect at Arnold Palmer Golf Design is leading the project with contracting services provided by Pro Golf Brasil and a small team of American shapers.  As of today the first 11 holes are shaped and ready to be capped with sand in preparation for seeding and grow-in.
Sorocaba River

The front nine, built on a nearly flat field of sugar cane, hugs the serpentine curves of the Sorocaba River.  Architect Thad Layton executed a thoughtful plan to shape this area of the golf course with fill taken from the irrigation reservoir created on site.  Although some of the soils were heavy with clay, many areas of the golf course were built on pure sand, no doubt left by the river over thousands of years.  The final product on the front nine is a broadly rolling landscape which takes the golfer for a wander through wetlands, rivers and lakes.   There are also many long views of nearby farms and mountains which are framed by the tall palms surrounding the property.
Hole #1

Thanks to the surgical eye of shaper Randy Brown and the attention to detail of Mr. Layton all of the contours appear naturally formed, hiding the intention of each roll and swale.  All but two greens on the front nine sit at grade with the fairway, connecting seamlessly to the edge of the putting surface.  My job as a bunker specialist was to highlight , embellish, or even hide the nearby contours of fairways and greens while defining a look for the golf course.

The back nine begins to climb gradually to a high point on the 12th tee, then spills down to a broad fairway where the golf course really begins to shine. From the 12th hole to the 18th green the golf course reveals itself quite easily over some not so subtle contours.

Finding an easily walked golf course over hilly terrain is no easy task and is as much of a compliment to the routing as it is to Thad's appreciation for the history of the game.  Following one of the most revered tenants of great golf architecture, a walking golf course was found.  Among other elements there is a classic feel here with no great gaps between holes, many greens appear to simply extend from the fairway, there is width and strategy off the tee, as well as open approaches to the greens.  The Boa Vista golf course is unlike any other design that Arnold Palmer Golf Design has put forth and is a good sign for where the design group would like to go with their work.  There are not many noteworthy golf courses in Brazil to compete with, however the Boa Vista golf course sets a high standard in the quality of its design and should be regarded as one of the best golf courses in Brazil.