Despite harsh economic times felt worldwide, Sir Nick Faldo’s design business continues to grow at a steady rate and he broke into the North African market in 2010 with a 27-hole Egyptian project that was undertaken in collaboration with the formidable architectural partnership of Brian Curley and Lee Schmidt.
In a remarkable feat of engineering, the imagination of Faldo and technical excellence of Schmidt and Curley transformed a barren, featureless desert landscape outside Cairo into a lush green golfing oasis, where palm-fringed fairways have been routed around a succession of lakes and streams, with the occasional waterfall feature thrown in for good measure.
Bunkering – as you might expect at such a desert location – is of the highest order and even though the designers might have been tempted to fill them with imported white sand, they’ve mercifully constructed the traps with local, pink-brown coloured sand that blends in sympathetically to the surroundings.
The spectacular water-fronted par three 8th, which measures 210 yards from the back tees, is considered as the signature hole on both the “Lakes” and “Palms” 18-hole configurations at Katameya Dunes, with both courses sharing the same front nine holes.
We caught up with Brian Curley and asked him a few questions:
The Top 100 Team was rather intrigued to find Katameya Dunes was a collaboration between your company and Nick Faldo. Can you tell us how that came about?
“The client came to us early in the process. In the initial discussions, they were impressed with what we have done and the early concepts I threw at them. The idea of bringing on a Tour Pro for marketing was away down the path but I brought up Nick as I had already worked on six courses with him. Nick is a great name for the project as many customers are UK based and I had always enjoyed working with him.”
It also looks quite a feat of engineering – can you throw a few facts at us, like the volume of water that flows over those little waterfalls every day?
“The waterfall system is set up to run at varied levels from slight to full on. At peak it pumps about 20,000 gallons per minute if desired. The funny thing is that the design would typically have the clubhouse at the highest elevation but the views outside the project were, in my opinion, not that great. I felt we could CREATE better views and it would be a greater impact if the water flowed TO the Clubhouse rather than away from it so we placed the Club environment at one of the lowest points. This way, all the views are up to golf with water coming at you. Not a typical solution but it works well here as it provides not only a nice view but also offers protection from the wind.”
Was it a unanimous decision to use very natural coloured sand in the bunkers? “Yes, that is the sand on site. The large expanses of sand are a huge design backbone feature along with lakes, marshes (to create a feel of the banks of the Nile), and date palms. From there, we add color in bursts of plantings, including around four thousand trees.“