Hills/Forrest Busy at Home and Abroad

Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates have announced a series of new design commissions, on both sides of the Atlantic, that confirm its standing as one of golf's most active course architecture firms.

Hills/Forrest has projects breaking ground this year outside Moscow and Heidelberg, Germany, plus others taking shape in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Portugal's Algarve region and across the U.S.

"It's not something we ever anticipated happening, but about half our work is now taking place outside the United States," said Steve Forrest, partner and principal of Toledo, Ohio-based Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates (AHSF). "We welcome this development, frankly, because markets like Sweden, Portugal and Mexico are particularly strong right now, and our track record abroad has allowed us to work for only the best clients on superb sites."

Forrest has spearheaded a great deal of this international work, including Kustikov Golf Club, an 18-hole, resort-hotel and real-estate development on 550 wooded acres north of Moscow. The developer, The Protcion Company the force behind one of Moscow's few existing clubs, Pestovo Golf & Yacht Club plans to sprinkle secondary homes, or 'dachas,' along the property's perimeter. On the interior, Forrest and AHSF associate Ken Williams will design 18 resort holes and a short course.

Further west in Europe, Forrest will also lead architectural efforts in Germany, where the firm will design the third course at Golf Club St. Leon-Rot, already the country's top club and perennial home to the European PGA Tour's Deutsche Bank SAP Open. In addition to taking over as the club's championship venue, the unique St. Leon-Rot Resort & Conference Center will pay homage to the German schlossgarten, a formal "castle garden" construction consisting of large planting beds, reflecting pools and wide gravel promenades edged in stone or tightly clipped hedging. These features are all arranged to form geometric patterns similar to those found on French parterres, the carefully manicured landscapes that evolved out of 16th-century knot gardens, reaching a climax at the Chateau of Versailles and its many European imitators. The AHSF design at St. Leon-Rot, a resort course, will be integrated into the parterres itself, using as inspiration perhaps the finest German example of the form, the famed Schwetzinger-Schlossgarten, located just 15 miles from St. Leon-Rot.

Elsewhere in Europe, in the eastern Algarve, pre-construction planning continues at Corte Velho under the direction of Hills/Forrest partner Drew Rogers. Corte Velho will feature a boutique hotel and spa to be operated by the Six Senses group one of Asia's most prominent luxury developers. The property here, one of Six Senses' first forays into Europe, overlooks the River Guadiana 50 kilometers east of Faro International Airport, with long easterly views to Spain. The golf course, like the Hills/Forrest design at Oitavos Golfe, north of Lisbon, will be laid out under the environmental auspices of Audubon International.

This summer in the Caribbean Hills/Forrest will begin construction of another dazzling, Audubon-sanctioned course at The Salt Cay Resort in the Turks & Caicos. The island of Salt Cay is located 68 miles from the capital, Providenciales, at the opposite end of the chain. The developers, Caribbean Island Investment Co., have planned an upscale resort modeled after the Sandy Lane property in Barbados, with only a few villas, a boutique hotel and golf course. The layout, another Forrest-directed project, features 10 holes directly on the water and occupies a stretch of dunesland that provides for spectacular ocean views from the entire course.

On the North American mainland but still outside the U.S., Hills/Forrest partner Chris Wilczynski will, in 2007, apply the finishing touches to Garden River Golf Club near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. This 18-hole resort layout is being developed by the Garden River First Nation and project-managed by Caledon, Ontario-based Penguin Golf Associates. When it opens for play in 2008, Garden River will be AHSF's first Canadian design.

South of the border, in Mexico, Hills/Forrest will continue construction at Paraiso del Mar, a 1,700-acre residential/resort development on the tip of El Magote peninsula (with more than 5 miles of beach frontage on the Sea of Cortez), across the bay from La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur. Laid out by Arthur Hills in collaboration with AHSF partner Brian Yoder, Paraiso del Mar Golf & Country Club has been routed amid miles of dunes and wildlife sanctuaries. Across the Baja peninsula on the Pacific coast, AHSF has just been commissioned to design 36 holes at Punta Lobos, another collaboration involving Hills and Yoder. Ground won't be broken here, however, until January 2008. Further south, in the Central American nation of Belize, ground has been broken on an 18-hole, Hills/Forrest-designed resort layout at Smuggler's Run Plantation.

Hills/Forrest remains extremely active inside the U.S. Construction is scheduled to begin this spring at Anne Arundel Manor, a golf-only private club near Annapolis, Md., developed by former Sallie Mae CEO Albert Lord. Elsewhere, AHSF will get started this spring on the construction of Belle Isle, a real estate golf community located on the Cumberland River near Nashville, Tenn. At Pechanga, a resort-casino project in Temecula, Calif., seven holes are shaped and a soft opening is expected in late 2007, while construction is also underway at the TPC at Treviso Bay in Naples, Florida.

"We will never abandon the U.S. market, where we're based and which has been our bread and butter for 40 years," said AHSF founder and principal, Arthur Hills. "But the growth of golf worldwide over the past 10 years has been quite extraordinary, and we like to think our work has assisted and will continue to assist in this growth. We're fans of the game, wherever it's played."