The golf course at Pine Ridge Resort opened in August 2006 and it’s located in the Gosung area in South Korea’s northeast. Surrounded by a forest of pines, said to number 300,000, and set at 200 metres above sea level close to Mt. Seolak, the facility was built with a rather mawkish mantra: “We’ve created a family-centered leisure culture of true love for customers’ health and happiness based on expertise, sincerity and righteousness.”
Too saccharine perhaps for western sensibility, the mantra was rigorously followed by founder Jae-bong Kim during construction, even to the extent that he used barley stones in the lakes and ponds believing these pebbles are good for health and might cleanse the water. The fairways were capped with 40,000 tons of elvan sand, which we confess to knowing nothing, because “health of golfers is the top priority”.
The 27-hole public layout at Pine Ridge was fashioned by local architect Jae-chong Lee who was asked to construct a golfing paradise in the forest. He did his best and even took a leaf out of Riviera Country Club’s book and constructed a bunker in the centre of the 2nd green on the Ridge course.
The Lake loop boasts the longest sand bunker in Korea, which stretches from the fairway on the 8th hole to the green of the 9th hole – an incredibly 1.1 kilometres. However, the Lake loop is not considered to be quite good enough to form the premier 18-hole configuration at Pine Ridge. That accolade falls to the 7,326-yard Pine and Ridge circuits.
Uniquely, we think, Pine Ridge has a system called “Pro-caddie”, where students are educated in golf coaching alongside being taught how to become a caddie. Each student then has to pass a rigorous test. Pine Ridge hosts a biannual international Pro-caddie tournament and academy, so it’s no wonder some of the nation’s best caddies originate from Pine Ridge.
The resort’s facilities are pretty impressive too. Pine Ridge has its own hot spring, world-class spa and coarse fishing in those crystal clear barley stone filled ponds. 168 villas and numerous condominiums provide for an enchanting retreat.