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How Kyle Phillips created a world-class course from land deemed ‘unsuitable for golf’

By Kelsey Lee

Sunset over South Cape Owner's Club [image: Joann Dost]

Sunset over South Cape Owner’s Club [image: Joann Dost]

Namhae, South Korea – South Cape Owners Club is the innovation of business mogul JB Chung. Even when others said it was impossible, Chung remained optimistic – he had visionary Golf Course Architect Kyle Phillips in his square. “It seems other designers felt the land was too challenging to achieve a top quality golf experience,” says Kyle. “Mr. Chung believed the property was so stunningly beautiful, he was willing to take on this challenge.”

Kyle Phillips designs world-class golf courses maintaining the natural elements of the existing property, as if a golfer happened upon a piece of land that is perfectly fit for a round of golf. With South Cape Owner’s Club, “the original conception of the course involved considerable earth moving” Kyle recounts. “When I came in the picture, I was able to reduce the earth moving by roughly 40% from what the prior plans had called for—which not only saved a significant amount of money, but also allowed me to save more of the natural vegetation.” In areas where earthmoving occurred, thousands of trees were transplanted allowing this world-class course to fit naturally on its landscape.

The transformation of Holes 12 and 13

When I asked Kyle how he felt so confident in this new direction for the land, he laughed and said, “It’s just what I do. It is hard to explain. I knew the course would turn out well and this would be a good golf course, but the challenge was always to make it great – the best. To get it there, I just worked with the topography and thought out of the box.”

With South Cape Owner’s Club already being recognized as Korea’s #1 course and ranking in the world’s Top 100 Courses, it is safe to say Kyle was successful.

Kyle humbly credits his success at South Cape Owner’s Club to playing to the land’s strengths, and maintaining the natural features of the landscape while turning down the volume. “Not only is the design of each hole important, but when you finish a hole you want it to have a nice connection to the next tee”, says Phillips. “We worked hard to create transitions throughout the course that would allow the players to get lost in the game and the beauty of their surroundings.” A feat Kyle Phillips makes sound all too easy.

 

Perhaps, Fergal O’Leary, a panelist for Golf Magazine and Golf digest (as well as the youngest person to play the World’s Top 100 Ranked courses), most elegantly remarked on South Cape when he said:

“I never thought I’d find a golf course more stunning that Cypress Point or Cape Kidnappers. I never thought I’d play a golf course more impressive than Oakmont or Royal Melbourne (West). I never thought I’d experience a feeling of privilege more than Muirfield or Shinnecock Hills. I never thought I’d play a piece of property more remarkable than Augusta National or St. Andrews. What Kyle Phillips created at South Cape makes a lot of old classics shiver in their boots. The world needs to brace itself as this whole experience takes you to unimaginable levels of euphoria.”

Quite remarkable words, for land once given up on for golf. However, after Kingsbarns in St. Andrews, Yas Links in Abu Dhabi, Cal Club in San Francisco and now South Cape in South Korea, it seems not much is impossible for Kyle Phillips.

South Cape Owner's Club Hole 6 [image: Joann Dost]

South Cape Owner’s Club Hole 6 [image: Joann Dost]

Spectacular South Cape Golf Course Debuts in South Korea

Southcape

Copyright 2013 Joann Dost
The 16th hole at South Cape Owners Club reflects the natural elements that create a memorable golf experience.

SOUTH GYEONGSANG PROVINCE, South Korea (November 13, 2013) – The spectacular new South Cape Owners Club, nestled along the rugged coastline of Namhae Island in southeast Korea, has made its much-anticipated debut.

Designed by internationally acclaimed golf architect Kyle Phillips, South Cape’s dramatic setting and ocean views on all 18 holes have positioned it to become the premier golf course in the country and one of the most significant new golf courses in the world.

The golf course is the centerpiece of a luxury golf resort community created by South Korea clothing magnate Jae Bong Chung, the owner and visionary behind the project. South Cape includes a sophisticated boutique hotel (40 suites) and spa, as well as 130 privately owned luxury sea-view villas.

In addition to resort play, South Cape will offer club membership privileges to villa owners. The par-72 course stretches to 6685 meters (7,313 yards) from the championship tees. There are also four additional sets of tees, offering fantastic views of the sea and neighboring islands.

“When you come to South Cape, you know you have arrived at a special place,” Chung said following the recent grand opening celebration. “It is a pure pleasure for the senses, with the sights, the smells and sounds of the sea all around you. There is not a golf experience anywhere that will surpass the quality of South Cape.”

The dramatic coastline topography at South Cape – “where the mountains meet the sea,” Phillips says – provides a considerably different landscape than more conventional seaside links courses.

“We incorporated a links feel into what is not a true links landscape,” said the California-based Phillips, who has designed award-winning golf courses world-wide, including Kingsbarns Golf Links in St. Andrews, Scotland and Yas Links in Abu Dhabi.

The bentgrass greens at South Cape offer subtle undulations and contours that create suitable hole locations for everyday play, yet provide ample positions that can easily meet the needs of championship competition. South Cape has a course rating of 75.2 and slope of 138 from the championship tees. The turf for the tees and fairways is bluegrass, while the rough consists of a blend of fine fescues.

Dramatic granite outcroppings accent the seaside routing, where inland and coastline holes create a serene rhythm, but can be unforgiving to those who flirt with the edges of the golf course. South Cape offers variation and features memorable holes throughout, particularly on what Phillips calls “the promenade to the sea” that starts with the downhill par-5 11th hole and continues through the par-3 16th.

“There is a good variety of strategy through the course,” said Phillips, whose stylish bunkering replicates the natural outline of the island coast. “You can play bump-and-run shots, or you can be aggressive. There are multiple lines of play, depending on how you want to attack the golf course.”

“It is simply an amazing coastline,” Phillips said. “Every hole has a view of the sea, which comes into play on 8 holes. It is one of the most striking coastlines in golf.”

The remarkable collection of par 3s at South Cape is visually inspiring and strategically challenging. Most notable is a breathtaking pair on the back nine – the 136-meter (148 yards) 14th hole, on a spectacular peninsula setting reminiscent of the famed 7th at Pebble Beach Golf Links; and the 204-meter (223 yards) 16th, which plays cliff-to-cliff across a cove, evoking the spirit of the legendary 16th at Cypress Point Club.

“As you walk the course, the ever-present beauty of South Cape is all around you,” Phillips said. “It is a golf experience that transcends shot-making.”

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Media Contact

Karen Moraghan

Hunter Public Relations

908/963-6013

kmoraghan@hunter-pr.com

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South Cape #14 - Par 3 - 136 meters

Kyle Phillips’ new South Cape course in Korea is expected to attract worldwide attention.

The Korean golf explosion is perhaps the game’s greatest recent success story. From 24 courses and a total of 750,000 rounds in 1980, the country’s market has expanded to well over 400 courses and nearly 27 million rounds now. Korean golfers have achieved huge successes on both male and female professional tours, and research by golf consultant Ha Jong-du shows an average number of rounds per course in excess of 60,000 – which implies  demand for additional facilities. And, indeed, more courses are currently being built:  architect Kyle Phillips’s spectacular new South Cape course on an island off the country’s southern coast is expected by many to challenge the Nine Bridges course, which has long been regarded as the country’s best.

Source:  Golf Course Architecture – October 2013

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