Design Notes

Arnold Palmer Design Company transforms Scotch Hall into Occano

Nick Faldo clears the way for Vietnam’s Silk Path Dong Trieu; Tom Lehman progresses at Minnesota’s Cragun’s Resort


At the end of November, golfers at Occano will find a refreshed layout at the Arnold Palmer Signature Course, which is situated along the Albemarle Sound of North Carolina.

Partnering with Arnold Palmer Design Company and Signet Golf Associates, Occano, a new real estate community developed by Dilweg, aims to bring the course back to its elevated status that earned recognition by Golf Digest as America’s ninth best private new course in 2009 — when the course was known as Scotch Hall Preserve.

"The Arnold Palmer Signature Course, combined with the picturesque setting on the Albemarle Sound, make playing the course a unique experience," said Michael C. Parah Sr., general manager of Occano.

Occano is using the renovation as an opportunity to re-envision the entire course to present an entirely different aesthetic and level of strategic interest. The $3 million renovation project began earlier this year following Dilweg’s acquisition of the Scotch Hall property in 2021, with the following enhancements scheduled for completion this month:

— Replacing bunkers using the Better Billy Bunker system and replacing drainage.
— The addition of zoysia sod around the edge of bunkers.
— Restoring and expanding the shape of all greens and surrounding enhancements.
— Resurfacing all cart path bridges.
— Ornamental plant removal to revegetate with native/natural plantings.
— Addition of tee space and forward tees to add a different style of play.

"The opportunity to revisit an already acclaimed golf course with fresh perspective is a special honor and we thank Occano for welcoming us to bring their vision to life," said Brandon Johnson, vice president and senior golf course architect at Arnold Palmer Design Company, the firm that designed the original layout. "With these comprehensive renovations, Occano will present residents and guests with a brand-new look and feel, as well as a new strategic level of play."

Occano's course covers 7,262 yards and offers five sets of tees. Debuted in 2008, the course offers stunning views of the Albemarle Sound. In April, the course, once again, was recognized in the North Carolina Golf Panel’s annual ranking of top courses in the state.

The reimagined Occano course will be open for public play with tee times available through the pro shop.


Nick Faldo and his Faldo Design team, already the authors of the highly ranked Laguna Lang Co course in Vietnam, are under construction with another course, Silk Path Dong Trieu, that could be even better.

After a visit to the property on Nov. 8, Faldo gathered with Silk Path’s senior management and project team in Hanoi.

"I really enjoyed my first site visit to Dong Trieu and am very happy with the course progress," Faldo said. "We have many great golf holes with interesting features including rock, elevation changes, pine trees, streams, lakes and mountain views. Silk Path Dong Trieu has the potential to become the best golf course in Vietnam and I look forward to seeing the construction progress on my next design visit in 2023."

In addition to being funded and developed by the Silk Path Group, a company with extensive work in the luxury resort and five-star hotel industries, the Dong Trieu golf course project also receives advice and oversight from the Everygolf Vietnam Joint Stock Company. With a development area of more than 320 acres and an investment of more than $60 million, the project satisfies all requirements for holding future international golf tournaments.

"This is a crucial project for the company in 2022 because it will help to further the promotion of the Silk Path brand and draw in a variety of tourists, including those from markets like South Korea, Australia, USA, and Europe, in addition to domestic tourists," said Bui To Minh, chairman of the Silk Path Group.

Included in the project is an 18-hole championship Nick Faldo Signature course and a 9-hole short course integrated with a golf instruction academy. Accommodations, entertainment and five-star service are also slated to be part of the Silk Path-branded resort environment. Silk Path Dong Trieu is scheduled for completion at the start of the fourth quarter, 2023.

Before the snow began falling in Minnesota, Tom Lehman and Duinick Golf were closing in on the finish line on a massive transformation at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd.

Lehman Design Group and Duinick have been in the process of converting the resort’s two 18-hole championship courses, Bobby’s Legacy and Dutch Legacy, into a new 27-hole layout called The Dutch.

"We want to give each course their own identity," Lehman told the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. "In some places, that means fixing the greens. They have these big berms that force every ball into the same spot in the fairway. It’s filled with divots."

Lehman, of Austin, Minnesota, also created a new 18-hole layout called Lehman’s Legacy that opened earlier in the fall.

"We wanted to dramatically improve playability along with building something new," said Jack Wawro, Cragun’s director of golf. "What we now have is a really amazing offering, where arguably some of the best land on the property wasn’t even being used for golf before."

Enhanced playability was key for the wide variety of golfers Cragun’s attracts.

"Our priority is focused on giving every single golfer the best possible experience, every day," said general manager Eric Peterson. "There were so many teeing areas that made for better green complexes. And vice versa. The playing corridors feel so much more expansive now on most of the renovated holes. It’s the same beautiful land, just used so differently."

Duinick Golf project superintendent Jacob Cooper illuminated the Lehman design process.

"Tom likes to focus on keeping his key features off parallel lines," he said. "He’ll go to the turning point on a hole and make sure all visual lines are broken up both ways, so the overall appearance is more natural."

The final nine holes under renovation, the Red nine on The Dutch 27-hole layout, are expected to open in summer 2023.