Homage to Hanse Lido open to gambling in Thailand

Members of the new Ban Rakat Club, headquarters of the Gil Hanse-designed Ballyshear Links, underwent an exquisite form of torture in August: their new 18-hole course, one of the most anticipated projects in a decade, was fully ready to play. But COVID-19 restrictions issued by the Thai government prevented them from playing Hanse’s superb tribute to the most famous ‘lost course’ in golf history.

This great wait came to an end on September 3, when the restrictions were lifted and members were free to enjoy the Ballyshear Links at the Ban Rakat Club in all its considerable glory.

The new clubhouse, designed by the world famous architect Kengo Kuma & Associates, on schedule to open in December, says Yokohama International president Takeyasu Aiyama. An official inauguration is scheduled for early 2022.

“We owe a great debt of gratitude to the members of the Ban Rakat Club for their patience,” Aiyama said. “Our core members were from the private club that once occupied this property – so they have been without home classes since 2017! The COVID restrictions in August were hard for everyone to accept, but all of Thailand suffered this way.

“The course is so beautiful. See it there, so distinctive and neat, and not be able to play it? Very difficult. But the good news is that these delays will soon be a memory. Thanks to Mr. Hanse, Ballyshear Links is a project of great stylistic and historical significance. In the months and years to come, this will far exceed the day it opens. “

The founding members of the Ban Rakat Club were all members of the Kiarti Thanee Country Club, a successful private club with a regular, somewhat tired, 25-year-old golf course whose main attribute was location – just 35 minutes from the downtown and 20 minutes from Suvarnhabumi International Airport. In 2017, members approached Yokohama International to transform their property in several radical and innovative ways.

“They were looking to bring something completely new to the market,” Aiyama said.

Hiring the Hanse Golf Design team was Stage 1. Hanse is, after all, an incredibly sought-after architect, the man chosen to renovate three of the US Open’s four trotting venues: Winged Foot for the Championship 2020, The Country Club for 2022 and Los Angeles CC for 2023.

Hanse surpassed himself with stage 2: the architect proposed to design and build at Kiarti Thanee a brand new course, a tribute of 18 holes to the Lido Golf Club, a mythical course by the hand of the first American pioneers of course architecture. Charles Blair MacDonald and Seth Raynor. The original Lido had been flamboyantly carved into equally featureless ground in 1917, on a beach property outside of New York City. It closed quietly and unceremoniously during World War II. In between, the Lido was considered the equal of any course on Earth.

MacDonald and Raynor operated in a specific way. They based the design of each golf hole on established “model” holes – the famous Redan in North Berwick, for example; the Alpine Hole across Scotland at Prestwick; the infamous par-3 of Biarritz in the south of France. The original Lido had 18 such holes.

The Ballyshear Links, the centerpiece of the renamed Ban Rakat Club (BRC), will feature the same 18 designs – each reinterpreted by Hanse and adapted to the Thai landscape. But for the exchange of holes 2 and 6, Hanse also produced the routing of the Lido completely in order.

As Aiyama asserts, such overtly “classic” or vintage design projects are rare in Southeast Asia. Most golfers in this market are used to modern course design. They may not recognize the names MacDonald or Raynor – although the Hanse brand is already strong in Thailand.

“Our approach carries a risk, of course,” Aiyama said. “However, we are determined to create something unique in the market and to accept the risk. As a private club, we just need to appeal to existing members and attract new ones – and this process is going very well. “

More than 160 members of Kiarti Thanee are partners of this new company, having transferred their memberships to the Ban Rakat Club. These members and others have played the last nine at Ballyshear since early 2021. New memberships may well be capped at 400 before the official opening in early 2022. Limited memberships will be capped at 200, he adds. .

Yokohama International has demonstrated remarkable know-how and know-how when it comes to repositioning clubs through the renovation process. He performed a similar exercise at 36 hole Yokohama CC, Japan, where the company recently oversaw a vintage renovation of the club’s western course. Coore / Crenshaw Architects spearheaded this work, which was completed in 2017. The 60-year-old West Course had never before been considered among the best courses in Japan. It is now ranked in the top 10 in the country.

“Gil Hanse has created a vintage-style course for the Ban Rakat Club which all the members – and their guests – will love it, ”Aiyama said. “We are sure of it. Additionally, because we are the first to take advantage of this particular style of golf course here in Thailand, Ballyshear will stand out as quite unique in this market. In our experience, this kind of differentiation is rarely a bad thing.

The beautiful new Ban Rakat Club clubhouse represents another bold start. While Kuma’s reputation and signature work is highly publicized – his portfolio includes the new Japan National Stadium in Tokyo and the Japanese headquarters of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy group – Ballyshear will represent his first golf club commission.

Yokohama International has also reserved a space next to the clubhouse, on the adjacent club property, for the future development of the hotel. Aiyama said his company is now receiving proposals from a range of four- and five-star hotel brands. However, nothing will be announced on this front until the grand opening. The hotel and a state-of-the-art training center will be the centerpieces of Phase II.

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