AHSF to Break Ground on First Middle Eastern Project

Ground will be broken this summer on Bahrain's first residential golf community. Riffa Views Golf Club will be the inaugural Middle Eastern design effort from Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates. The Riffa Views course will replace the existing Riffa GC, which opened in 1999 as Bahrain's first international-standard, 18-hole layout.

"Our charge at Riffa Views is to create an entirely new golf course experience," says Steve Forrest, the Hills/ Forrest partner and principal who will personally direct the project. "Only three fairway corridors from the original routing will be incorporated in the new design, so our work here is tantamount to creating an entirely new golf course. We will also add residential parcels to Riffa's long-term development footprint."

Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest & Associates are responsible for more than 180 original golf course designs and 120 renovations worldwide. Riffa Views GC is located 15 minutes from the capital, Manama, and 20 minutes from the King Fahad Causeway link with Saudi Arabia.

The first nine at Riffa Views will be completed in fall 2007, with the second nine scheduled to open in fall 2008.

Because Hills/Forrest will create 15 new holes at Riffa Views, many of them located outside the existing development footprint, the old course will remain open throughout the first year of construction – an important consideration as Riffa is home to the Arcapita Seniors Tour Championship, a stop on the European Seniors Tour. This fall's event will be held on the old course; the 2007 event will be conducted on a combination of nine old holes and nine new ones. Come 2008, the Arcapita Seniors Tour Championship will take place entirely around the new 18 at Riffa Views.

Par will remain 72, but the yardage will be significantly increased – from 6,817 yards to more than 7,300. Forrest also indicated the layout's look and feel will undergo a radical transformation. "Right now there are too many forced carries at Riffa, making the course difficult for high-handicap players. That will change," says Forrest, who worked closely with Riffa director of golf Michael Braidwood and London-based land planning firm EDAW in formulating the renovation plans. "Our goal is to create a more interesting, playable golf course that takes better advantage of the wadi and other natural features, thereby adding value to these new residential parcels.

"The most intriguing natural features here are the wadi that run through the property. They are an eroded desert feature, somewhat like the arroyos we see in the American Southwest. This is a dry climate, of course; once or twice a year there are flash floods – these wadi are the channels where these flood waters are released. They are dry most of the year but they are 4 to 5 meters deep – perfect for creating physical drama within a golf hole."

The wadi will come into play on nine different holes. But not all the drama at Riffa Views will be natural. Several holes venture out into a desert landscape crisscrossed by pipelines and dotted with oil wells. The course features will be bold throughout, thanks to the fill created by five man-made lakes.

"The layout will also be heavily landscaped, as we have carried the development's three residential themes – the Wadi, Lagoon and Oasis – through the golf course itself. To moderate the desert heat, we've worked hard to introduce shade and water features wherever we can. Of course, at certain times of year, no amount of water or shade will do. Luckily, nine holes at Riffa Views will be lighted for night play."

Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest & Associates is one of golf’s most prolific and respected course architects, with more than 40 projects underway in Mexico, Canada, the United States, Europe and, now, the Middle East. Hills Golf Club in Sweden, named by Travel+Leisure Golf magazine among the top 10 courses to open worldwide during 2005, will celebrate its grand opening this spring, just north of Gothenburg. At about the same time, Olde Stone, an exquisite new private club project, will hold its grand opening in Bowling Green, Ky., while Wolfdancer Golf Club at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort is poised to open June 1, near Austin, Texas.

For more information on Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates, call 419/841-8553 or +32 2548 0568 (in Europe) or visit www.arthurhills.com.