DUBAI: Golfing legend Jack Nicklaus is planning “to create something special” by designing his first golf course in Saudi Arabia.
Earlier this month, it was confirmed that Nicklaus – the winner of 18 major golf championships – will design a signature private championship golf course at Qiddiya, Saudi Arabia’s capital of Entertainments, Sports and the Arts, located 40 minutes from the capital of Riyadh.
Work by Nicklaus Design will start later this year and will be the company’s first course in the Kingdom.
“First of all, I’ve never done a golf course in Saudi Arabia, that’s number one. Number two would be the opportunity to create something special that will help guide the game of golf in Saudi Arabia,” Nicklaus said in a video interview published exclusively by Arab News.
The retired 81-year-old US player said water was going to be a key element of the design of the Qiddiya course.
“I know water is a precious commodity in Saudi Arabia. You’ve got to be able to preserve that as much as you can, so we will have collection areas everywhere and we can try to collect what excess water we have so we don’t lose it,” he said.
Construction began on the Qiddiya project in 2019 and the golf development will include a high-end resort hotel and spa, as well as exclusive residences. The course will be built to international standards, with a view to hosting the most prestigious international championships in the near future.
Nicklaus said in a press statement: “By being involved in this project I hope to promote the development of new skills and professional employment opportunities inherent to the vision of Qiddiya, as well as enticing Saudi residents to take up the great game of golf.”
The course will be built in consultation with Golf Saudi. Qiddiya has plans for a second golf course and is currently seeking a top designer to lend their name to it.
CEO of Qiddiya Investment Company Philippe Gas said: “The underlying philosophy behind this entire development is to introduce a new, active lifestyle to the people of Saudi Arabia. This project has been carefully planned to ensure an unmatched resort experience for both golfers and regular guests. We expect the Jack Nicklaus course and residential offering to provide the most entertaining challenge for golfers and the most appealing homesteads for residents seeking an extraordinary lifestyle.”
Commenting on Nicklaus’ involvement, Yasir Bin Othman Al-Rumayyan, Chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation, said: “We are hugely privileged that the greatest-ever golfer has decided to make his mark upon our developing golf landscape in Saudi Arabia. His stature internationally transcends sport and his design vision and philosophy are recognised at the very top of the golf industry. We look forward to working with Mr. Nicklaus and his team.”
Nicklaus Design has worked on 425 courses in more than 45 countries.