Gil Hanse's recreation of the lost, legendary Lido to open in August 2021
Gil Hanse has already made waves designing courses abroad, making his South American debut with the host layout for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. He wasn’t necessarily looking to compete with that when making his Asian debut, however the concept was bound to create headlines: A recreation of the lost, legendary Lido Club.
Now that long-discussed course, the Ballyshear Links just outside of Bangkok, has an opening date: August, 2021.
The course will be hosted at the Ban Rakat Club — a highly-exclusive establishment, reportedly with only 400 members —which is chaired by Takeyasu Aiyama. Aiyama is also the chairman at Yokohama Golf Club. Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw had done renovations at that club, and Aiyama was looking for inspiration for the property to become Ban Rakat. Interestingly, Coore recommended Hanse.
Hanse and Wagner arrived at the property in Thailand and did not necessarily find anything evocative in the terrain. In fact, it was almost pancake flat. That opened another door, however, allowing Hanse and Wagner to apply their “caveman” personas and move more dirt than usual to create a bolder concept.
Few concepts could be as bold as recreating the iconic Long Island club.
Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor were known for their template-based approach to golf course design, which resulted in some of the world’s greatest golf courses, including the National Golf Links of America, Fishers Island, Chicago Golf Club and more. Although legend helps create hype, some hypothesize Lido may have been superior to all of them.
Ballyshear 12th green
Macdonald and Raynor were not at all “minimalists,” and Hanse and Wagner saw fit to emulate that historic pair’s approach with this piece of land.
“Normally...we feel strongly that a golf course should be the product of its surrounds. But in the back of our minds, my partner Jim Wagner and I have often wondered what we would do with a completely flat site — what can you do to distinguish it?” Hanse said. “The most famous example of a manufactured golf course from The Golden Age was The Lido. Jim and I had always wanted to do a MacDonald/Raynor, angular grass-faced bunker design. We pitched the idea to the owner at Ballyshear and he loved it.”
Ballyshear 14th tee
The name “Ballyshear” is derived from the name of Macdonald’s own estate on Long Island.
As with almost all of Macdonald and Raynor’s designs, template holes based on Macdonald’s travels in the UK were the basis for Lido’s design. If you’ve been keeping up with Top 100’s template architecture series, you’ve already learned about a few holes at Lido.
The most famous hole at the course was the “ Channel,” based on Littlestone’s No. 16 hole. At the Lido version, players had the option to significantly shorten a long par five by first making a bold drive from the tee over the title “channel” to a rightward fairway, followed by another long, quality approach. It is near the ultimate in risk/reward, requiring two near perfect shots or else penalty will ensue.
Ballyshear 17th hole
Another example you’ve seen on this site is “ Narrows.” Although there is some debate whether the opener at Lido qualified, Macdonald did make a comparison between the two holes, with their respective fairway bunkering pinching the fairway.
Other history was made at Lido as well. Although Alister MacKenzie no doubt would have found some success eventually as an architect, Lido represented his “breakthrough” moment.
Country Life magazine held a contest for design submissions, which MacKenzie won with an entry that has come to be known as the “Lido” template. Macdonald and Raynor were so impressed by this multi-fairway par four that it ended up being used as the closing hole.
The Lido also marked the debut of the minor template known as “Raynor’s Prize Dogleg,” a long par four requiring a long, precise tee shot to get home in two to an undulating green. Although named for the famous architect, it was actually an adaptation of another entry into the Country Life contest.
Not that anyone reading this post will have played the original Lido, but if the golf historian gets the chance to play at Ballyshear, they will notice the routing is almost a perfect replica. “Almost,” as the property required the second and sixth holes to be switched to make the concept work. A small detail, probably not to be mourned by architecture enthusiasts.
Ballyshear 18th tee
For what it’s worth, Hanse is most keen on the final pair of holes, based on the “ Long” template and of course MacKenzie’s contribution, respectively.
“At Ballyshear, I think the 17th and 18th, with their shared waste bunker between them, came out extremely well,” he said. “The scale of those two holes at Lido was impressive and we were able to capture that at Ballyshear.”
Ballyshear will be the first Lido recreation to market, but rumors abound that Mike Keiser is looking to build a similar project near his Sand Valley Resort (albeit a private course in this case) in Wisconsin, with Tom Doak at the helm. Keep your eyes on Top100GolfCourses.com for updates on both projects.