Constructed along a rocky cliff on the remote southwest coast of the Korean peninsula, the Pine Beach course opened in 2009. It was developed by the Seoul-based Hanyang Corporation and designed by Gary Roger Baird with David Dale of Golfplan handling the bunkering and greens.
Situated on a spectacular site in Haenam, near Gwangju, the course is laid out with ten of its holes precariously perched on a jagged coastline where smaller peninsulas extend 200 metres into the sea.
All eighteen fairways were routed to take full advantage of the site’s remarkable geographical attributes, with the architect taking every opportunity to expose the course to the water’s edge.
As a prime example of this, on the 430-yard 16th, where the Yellow Sea lies along the right side of the fairway, a retaining wall was built to allow a tee placement right on the edge of the cliffs, creating a wonderful water carry.
The following edited extract by David Dale is from Volume Six of Golf Architecture: A Worldwide Perspective. Reproduced with kind permission. To obtain a copy of the book, email Paul Daley at [email protected].
“In February 2003, Golfplan had reached the halfway stage of a 27-hole project called Pine Hills, in the southernmost region of the Korean Peninsula. The ownership team came down to pay me a visit [and] the chairman said quietly as we stood off to one side, ‘we have another site we’d like to show you.’ The next day we headed to Haenam, on the south-western coast, to have a look at this second site.
After an hour of trudging we came around a corner and there it was: an incredible panoramic ocean view. It was more than a view really. It was a checklist for potential greatness: a sinewy line of plateaus at cliff’s edge; a series of pine-covered ridgelines that carried from various points inland all the way down to the Yellow Sea. Pine Beach Golf Links broke ground three years later and had a ‘soft’ playing opening in early 2009.
No opportunity for exposure to the coastline was wasted. We did eight different routings on this property before settling on the final version. The finished product produced some pretty special golf holes, each fashioned according to what this incredible property offered. The trick in routing Pine Beach was providing golfers glimpses of the coast when they weren’t actually in contact with it. This, in part, explains why the inland property is so special. And, it sports wonderful, wildly undulating terrain. And, here is another thing you don’t get at most seaside designs: long views of the ferries that track the South Korean coast all day long.
Pine Beach was our twenty-third project in South Korea and I can tell you this is generally a zoysia haven. However, we went with blue-grasses, which suit the climate well and gave us a half-inch cutting height starting point and the ability to alter fairway width at will, without colour change. Its playing characteristics are preferred to zoysia, in Korea, so it also helps Pine Beach stand out from competitors in what is a hyper-competitive club market.
This golf course was adapted to the site in every way: the architecture we applied was site-specific; the land ‘instructed’ us what to do; and Golfplan’s obsession with drawing ultra-detailed construction documents enabled our design/construction team to carry the property’s natural ridges through the golf holes. And, by accounting exactly for every cut-and-fill ahead of time, the client saved a considerable amount of money.”