The Marquis Estate Golf Course
The Communications Team at Harlequin got
in touch with Jon O'Donnell, President of Heritage Links, to ask
him a few questions about his work with Gary Player to create the golf course for The
Jon O'Donnell has over 25 years of experience in the golf
industry, including golf course construction, development services
and golf course maintenance.
Heritage Links are experts in the industry: they produce and
manage many of today's world-class golf courses, and have completed
projects in the United States, Mexico, Asia, the Middle East, and
the Caribbean, including courses that have won awards and been
selected for the US Open.
Gary Player, of course, is the legendary golfer with 165 career
Championships to his name and one of only five Grand Slam victors,
alongside the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. Since the
early 80's, his company, Gary Player Design, has been a global
leader in golf course design, employing a small team of seasoned
and dedicated professionals with a combined 210 years in the golf
course development industry. Through the years, Gary Player and
Gary Player Design have executed a portfolio of over 300 projects
in 35 countries on five continents.
A Part of The Marquis Estate Golf
Course Contour Plan
What would you say makes a great golf course?
There are a few ways to answer that…
As a playing experience, a golf course that challenges the
player's skills is always fun and exciting, but it also has to be
playable and fair for all levels of golfers and golf shots. Having
played on other Gary Player-designed golf courses, I know he always
achieves that balance.
As an investor or resort owner, breath-taking views are always
nice to have sitting adjacent to a resort. In the case of Marquis
Estate, the views leading into the golf course and actually on the
course while playing will really be something special.
There are many great golf courses to play, but I personally feel
golf course maintenance also plays a key role in determining a
great golf course.
For instance, if a golf course is over-watered or too wet due to
poor drainage, or has slow greens or bunker sand that is conducive
to balls plugging, it is not as fun to play and seems to always
linger in the minds of the golfer after the round.
Essentially, a golf course that is well maintained, well-groomed
and has green speeds that match the playability of the course will
be memorable for the best reasons.
So what will make the Gary Player course at The Marquis Estate
distinct from other top courses?
Gary Player - by far - has seen and probably played more golf
anywhere in the world than any other player on the planet. This
experience is utilised each day when he is presented projects like
The Marquis Estate.
There is not a single golf course in the world that is the same
and The Marquis Estate course will be very unique. In reviewing the
design that Gary and his team have created, I can see he has worked
with the naturally gifted land for The Marquis Estate course.
Probably the most unique element is the stream feature that
impacts almost half of the course and eventually rolls into the
Caribbean Sea, and the way that Gary and his team utilised this
stream to lay the course in and amongst this feature. Gary and his
team also utilised this relatively horizontal floor in the valley
to create a challenging layout.
Golf courses that are ranked in Top 100 lists have architectural
elements that offer design rhythm and a variety of terrain and
holes that will tests a player's full arsenal of skills. The
Marquis Estate's course has all of these qualities.
Lastly, what work goes into developing a golf course like The
Marquis Estate project, from start to finish? What kind of
timescale is involved?
From the planning, construction, and grow-in side of the golf
course, there is a huge amount that goes into it. In these remote
parts of the world, such as where Marquis sits, almost all of the
materials are being imported into the site to create the course and
the infrastructure to support the golf course.
Essentially, the entire infrastructure has to be built, for both
the golf course and the resort. The entry road, access to the
resort, water, sewer, and electricity all has to be planned,
designed, and executed. The development teams will work together
when building the resort, clubhouse, and other support structures
in conjunction with building the golf course.
Many items will be grouped together so that they serve a number
of functions. As an example, the lake will be used as an impressive
visual feature, for storing irrigation water, and as a home to wild
life and drainage for some areas of the resort. The irrigation
system will be sized properly so that not only will it have the
capacity to water the golf course, but it will also facilitate
watering of the greens and landscaped areas of the resort.
A nursery will be developed at the beginning of the project that
will provide resources for the turf grass for the golf course, as
well as the landscaping for the resort. The entire construction
activity is a process that is eventually covered up with lush turf
and landscaped plant material, which allows the maintenance
departments to continue to groom these areas to their highest
The process of planning can take months because you have to be
exactly sure that all designs, use of space, and the orientations
of all items are correctly thought through prior to moving into the
construction phase. Once you get to that point, hundreds of
thousands of meters of material are moved, many hectares of turf
are planted, almost a million linear meters of wire is utilised for
the irrigation system, and thousands of meters of drain pipe are
installed to assist in draining the site. Then when construction is
completed, the grow-in of the golf course will start and take over
until it is groomed to a level where it is ready for guests, which
can take many months to complete.
Ultimately, all the time and hard work will result in a
spectacular playing experience and a stunning feature for the
An aerial view of the stunning Marquis
Estate site (taken 2008)