The Lido Club has been gone some 80 years now, but it’s never been forgotten. This mythic 18 from the hand of American design pioneers Charles Blair MacDonald and Seth Raynor opened for play on Long Island, outside New York City, in 1917. It closed during World War II. In between, it was considered the equal of any course on Earth — and like James Dean, its premature demise only enhanced that reputation.
Come 2021, its spirit will be reborn… in Thailand.
Architect Gil Hanse will christen the full 18 at Ballyshear Links, ahole-by-hole homage to The Lido Club, in August 2021. The new clubhouse will also make its debut this summer, completing a transformation completely unique to the Southeast Asian golf market.
Named for MacDonald’s own estate on Long Island, Ballyshear represents Hanse’s first-ever design in Asia. It will serve as centerpiece of the Ban Rakat Club (www.brc.co.th), a members club now taking shape on level ground just 35 minutes from center city Bangkok. Full membership will be limited to 400. Phase 1 of the clubhouse at Ban Rakat Club is also scheduled for completion in August 2021.
“Normally,” Hanse said, “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? 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 Links will open for play on the site of the former Kiarti Thanee Country Club, which partnered in 2017 with Yokohama International Golf Club Co. Ltd. — the Japan-based golf development and club operations firm — to redevelop the property in its entirety.
According to Ban Rakat Club Chairman Takeyasu Aiyama, “The goal has always been to create something entirely new in the Bangkok market and it’s our strong feeling that Ban Rakat Club and Ballyshear Links will do exactly that.”
Aiyama is also chairman at Yokohama Country Club, where Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw recently renovated the West Course. When Aiyama consulted Coore about the redevelopment of Kiarti Thanee CC, the American recommended Hanse and Wagner, arguably the most sought-after architects in world golf. Their original work includes the 2016 Olympic Course in Rio de Janeiro, the Black Course at Streamsong Resort in Florida, and the new Ohoopee Match Club in the sand barrens of central Georgia.
“The Ban Rakat Club project will perfectly showcase Mr. Hanse’s skill and expertise, while introducing his work to an Asian audience for the first time,” Aiyama said. “What’s more, vintage design projects such as Ballyshear have never before been undertaken in Thailand. In these and other ways, Ban Rakat Club will bring something completely unique to the market.”
Feature Photo: Ballyshear Links (Ballyshear Links)