Construction is underway on the new golf course in Calabar, the capital of Nigeria's Cross River State. The course, which is part of a major development incorporating an international-standard convention centre, housing and a five star hotel, has been designed by golf architects Thomson Perrett & Lobb, the firm founded by five times Open Champion Peter Thomson. Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects has designed the convention centre and is working on the clubhouse.
South African contractor Bouman Golf is in charge of construction of the course, which starts in a dense plantation of rubber trees, before moving into several valleys and up onto a ridge above the Calabar River, which it finishes alongside. "We have cleared the hole centrelines already, and are moving on to second phase clearing," said Guy Bouman. "Earthmoving and shaping will start in the next two weeks." Local villagers will be able to take the cleared timber for their own use.
TPL principal Tim Lobb, who has led the design team, said: "We have worked very hard to ensure the course will fit seamlessly into the landscape. For example, we have marked the clearing lines by hand to give a natural looking edge, rather than the hole corridors being straight, and we have retained clumps of trees in strategic spots."
Lobb said he expected the details of the course design to evolve considerably as construction continues. "TPL design associate Andrew Goosen and I will be on site regularly during the build to help Guy and his team," he said. "Actually, we have already spent a great deal of time on site, which has helped us create a routing that makes the best possible use of the natural contours, and minimises earthmoving. Calabar is less than five degrees north of the Equator, with a challenging tropical climate, especially during the rainy season, so enhancing the site's natural drainage channels will be key to making a course that's playable year round." Construction of the course should be finished by the end of 2014, for a planned opening the following year.
The Calabar project is of strategic importance for the region, according to Cross River State governor, Senator Liyel Imoke. "The Calabar International Convention Centre, the golf course and the rest of the development will be a world-class amenity for the State, and one of the leading facilities in West Africa," he said. "We are delighted that the course construction is under way, and we look forward eagerly to seeing it completed."