In 1917 The Lido Golf Club opened on the shores of Long Island New York. At the time it was considered one of the best courses in the world, Bernard Darwin described The Lido as “The finest course in the world” at the time. Designed by Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor, The Lido was a compilation of the best golf holes in the British Isles and Europe which they referred to as template holes.
Now over 100-years later that legend and spirit of The Lido will live on in the most unlikely of places, Bangkok Thailand. In August 2021, architect Gil Hans’ design of Ballyshear at Ban Rakat will open on the former site of Kiarti Thanee near Bangna Trad Kilometer 29, not far between Subhapruek and Thai Country Club.
Mr. Hanse has set out using the original template hole layouts from The Lido, which were often used in other CB Macdonald & Seth Raynor other designs such as the National Golf Link of America, still one of the United States most exclusive clubs, to create Ballyshear. (“Ballyshear”, interestingly enough was the name of CB Macdonald’s personal property in New York.)
The contrast in conditions and venues could not be much different but if you look (above) at the overhead view of The Lido and the course layout of Ballyshear in Bangkok the imagination begins to wander at how close this incredibly talented designer will come to creating another masterpiece. With modern equipment and deep knowledge of agronomy, Gil Hans has set out to create similar fast and firm playing conditions to The Lido and other seaside links courses.
This too is a contrast to anything seen in Thailand which usually features green, lush and soft, garden type, golf course conditions. Although admired by those from links golf backgrounds or those with an appreciation for golf history, one might wonder how the Ballyshear layout will be accepted by the local golf community.
“Ballyshear is going to be different than anything that exists there (Thailand) today. It’s going to be fascinating to see how the course is received” remarked Gil Hanse.
By following the original temple designs the course inevitably will be a unique experience in Bangkok. Using the finest maintenance, appropriate grasses to make it play fast and firm Ballyshear promises to be an incredible experience.
Speaking of the site, Hanse described challenges and character of the property. Hanse and his partner Jim Wagner are familiar with challenging situations as they built the Olympic Golf Course at Rio de Janeiro for the Rio 2016 Olympics under extreme time and environmental constraints. No outside soils or plant life were permitted to be imported so incredible creativity and resourcefulness were demanded of them. Oh, and by the way, there was a deadline.
Hanse, being extremely familiar with the history of the template holes, having played many of Macdonald & Raynor’s layouts and with enthusiastic encouragement from the property owners, Gil Hanse likely made a masterpiece at Ban Rakat.