All golf architects must occasionally work around existing features when designing a new course. When Sir Nick Faldo began work at Cambodia’s Vattanac Golf Resort, however, the compromises were of a cultural nature.
His East and West Courses weave their way around what the resort calls “famous cultural expressions”; statues and scale constructions of historical Cambodian landmarks. None of which have stopped Faldo from producing two elegant courses, around twelve miles from the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.
The par-72 East Course stretches to just over 7,400 yards. Like the West Course, it is grassed with resilient paspalum and the flat terrain is countered with considerable mounding and landscaping.
Angular ponds and grass bunkers are occasional charming quirks but you’ll soon note that this site is notably more restrictive than it looks. There is a lot of sand out there: extravagant bunkers and waste areas combine to narrow many holes, so you must carefully plot your way around.
Busy bunkering in front of the greens in particular is a recurrent feature of the East Course. Take your time when deciding exactly where to lay up between all the traps guarding the green at the 550-yard 13th.
But there is beauty amid the challenge. Nestled between a line of trees and the lake in front of its green, the 193-yard 12th is a picture. And while it’s not a golf feature, do pause to admire Vattanac’s elegant red-roofed pavilion – used for conference bookings – seemingly floating on the lake to your left as you walk down 18. Not something you see on every course…