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FIRST LOOK: Rumanza Golf & Country Club

Revetted bunkers are a feature of the Rumanza layout. Photo by Sam Clayton

Welcome to Pakistan’s first championship signature course – and one of Sir Nick Faldo’s most exciting design challenges yet

By Kent Gray
Any course with Sir Nick Faldo’s signature on it rouses serious curiosity and especially so a new layout imagined into life in an emerging golf nation.

Welcome, then, to Rumanza Golf & Country Club, Pakistan’s first signature championship course located on the outskirts of Multan, the country’s fifth largest city in the southern confines of the Punjab region.

Featuring four lakes, 49 “eco” bunkers with revetted faces and desert, wetland and woodland zones, the 7533-yard, par-72 layout is the centrepiece of the new Defense Housing Authority (DHA) Multan residential and lifestyle community.

The region’s first pure sand course is on point ecologically and proudly so with the build undertaken with 100 percent local materials. The native sand has been dressed with Platinum TE paspalum grass to “ensure speed and precision”, trademarks of Faldo’s “hard and fast running” links upbringing and contemporary design ethos. It is has been carefully routed around mango and orange orchards and indigenous Deras – vernacular mud brick dwellings surrounded by walls which form a courtyard.

Well-travelled GM of Golf, Sam Clayton

“These local touches make it a truly unique playing experience,” says Sam Clayton, Rumanza Golf & Country Club’s Director Operations. 

“I have no doubt it will become a must-visit for avid golf tourists.” 

Faldo, who is set to officially attend the soft opening of the course on 25 – 26 February before it’s official opening to the public this month, concurs.

“I think we’ve created something very unique and very special. Hopefully people will want to come from far and wide to see it and play it and experience it and enjoy themselves.  That’s the most important thing,” the English Knight said.

Fellow major champion Graeme McDowell, four-time DP World Tour winner Rafa Cabrera Bello and LET/LPGA Tour stars Charley Hull and Mel Reid are also scheduled to tee it up in the Rumanza Inaugural on Feb. 25-26, a tournament designed to herald Pakistan’s arrival as a serious golf tourism destination.

 “The course and its facilities are state-of-the-art and modern but they also incorporate the natural charm of Pakistan and the enchanting surroundings of Multan. It’s a truly unique experience that can’t be found elsewhere in the world.”

The gate to a luxury golf lifestyle. Photo by Sam Clayton

Quite aside from Faldo’s globally recognised portfolio of courses, Clayton agreed having a six-time major champion put his name to the Multan project undoubtedly helps sell the sizzle. Rumanza is set to become one of Pakistan’s most advanced, smart, eco-friendly and aesthetically designed residential communities. It will eventually include high-end apartments and villas, a five-star hotel, commercial retail space, multiple sports and lifestyle facilities, a mosque, education facilities, health care services and extensive F&B outlets.  

At the heart of it all though is the Faldo layout.

There are ample hazards in Faldo’s latest design as the 14th illustrates. Photo by Sam Clayton

“As a country that is starting out in the world of golf, Sir Nick Faldo undoubtedly adds a huge amount of credibility to Rumanza, both as a six-time major winner and as the designer of world-class courses across five continents and 20 countries,” Clayton said. “In Faldo’s own words ‘Pakistan belongs on the world golf map’. The Rumanza Golf & Country Club development will play a pivotal role in spring boarding the country onto the global golf scene.”

Faldo put ink to the Multan contract in 2018 and personally broke ground on the project that November. Sir Nick has been a regular visitor since despite the challenges of the pandemic and is pleased with the finished product.

The former world No.1 has had to walk the tightrope between strategic challenge – protecting the course from advances in club and ball technology long term – while keeping playability at the forefront of his thinking. As such, the layout will feature multiple teeing options to suit all abilities.

Water and sand everywhere. Photo by Sam Clayton

“My design philosophy has a couple of important points. First of all, of course, [is] playability,” said Faldo. “We quite possibly will have golfers playing their very first round of golf at Rumanza so I would strongly suggest a lesson or two and maybe a little bit of practice will help set you up for the day. But the important thing is the golf course will be very accessible for any level of golfer.

“The better golfers, we want to teach them the importance of strategy and choice-making on the golf course. And then [secondly], there’s memorability. Each hole will have its own design, its own style and maybe its own character and if you’ve played a couple of them really well, hopefully you leave with some great memories.”

Faldo is content he’s ticked the memorability column from a visual standpoint. UAE golfers familiar with the Faldo layout at Emirates Golf Club can assume pleasing variety from hole to hole – and ample challenge – will come standard too. 

“We have some fantastic, especially designed eco bunkers that will look amazing at sunrise and at sunset and we have four large lakes that will feature a gradually revealing peninsula. I do feel our landscape artwork in creating these lakes really will add to your visual enjoyment of the golf course.”

For Clayton, who has spent more than 25 years in the golf construction and club management industry in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Fiji, Australia, Cambodia, Vietnam and now Pakistan, there isn’t a signature hole “per se”. “Every hole is world-class,” he insists.

Time your round for just before dusk or just after dawn and holes like the 15th will reveal their true character. Photo by Sam Clayton

Press a little harder, though, and Clayton gives up a couple of personal favourites, the par-3 12th, a tester at 243-yards off the tips, and the 558-yard par-5 16th which is already shaping up as Rumanza’s stroke index 1.

“Hole 12 is one of the most memorable on the course. Rumanza has four unique design features – revetted bunker faces, desert waste areas, fruit orchards and Dera walls – and this hole showcases all of them beautifully,” he said.

“The 16th is our toughest hole. It predominantly has a headwind and features an aggressive [driving] line over a revetted bunker wall, set at 278 yards to clear from the back tee. If successful, the green is reachable in two shots. If unsuccessful, the golfer will ultimately be playing backwards or sideways. 

The penultimate hole stretches from 115 to 202 yards from the tips. Photo by Sam Clayton

“One of the key objectives of developing this course is to get future generations of Pakistani golfers accustomed to elite golf courses. This hole will certainly do that.”

Rumanza’s game development ethos extends beyond the clubhouse and 18-hole course to a double-ended driving range with 30 bays, short game area and golf academy. Holes 1 – 9 are lit by MUSCO golf for play at night, while the driving range and shortgame area are also floodlit. They’re all key tenets in the overarching strategy to grow the game in Pakistan as well as announcing the country’s arrival on the global golf map.

“Introducing more Pakistanis to golf and developing and nurturing the local talent is certainly a key objective of Rumanza. Pakistan is currently a relatively untapped market when it comes to golf and we’re keen to change that,” said Clayton.

Hole 18. Photo by Sam Clayton

Longer term, a regular tour event is part of the strategy to continually inspire the new generation of Pakistani golfers and to expose Multan as a desirable golf holiday destination.

“Hosting a tour event in the near future is a clear goal for Rumanza Golf & Country Club. The facilities, stunning location and warm hospitality of the Pakistani people will make it a fantastic venue to welcome the world’s best golfers,” Clayton continued.

Rumanza Golf & Country Club is an affiliate member of International Management Group. IMG Prestige is an elite international network of courses that covers over 200 clubs around the world. Rumanza members will get privileged access to these clubs and can enjoy several benefits such as preferred access, special green fee rates, club discounts and many other privileges offered by clubs and resorts
in network.


BE AT 1 SERIES:
Tame ‘Sea View’, stroke index 1 at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club
Tame the 15th, stroke index 1, at The Els Club Dubai
Tame the 5th, stroke index 1, at Tower Links Golf Club
Tame the 15th, stroke index 1, at Yas Links Abu Dhabi
Tame the 7th, stroke index 1, at Dubai Hills Golf Club
Tame the 12th, stroke index 1, at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club
Tame the 13th, stroke index 1, at Al Zorah Golf Club
Tame the 10th, stroke index 1, at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club
Tame the 5th, stroke index 1, at Abu Dhabi Golf Club
Tame the 5th, stroke index 1, at Arabian Ranches Golf Club

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
The Middle East’s 18 favourite holes
The Middle East’s best par 3s
Top 10 Golf Courses in the Middle East: The Class of 2020

 

Kent Gray

Editor of Golf Digest Middle East. Has written about golf since 1989 and owned a suspect short game even longer.

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