Golfing legend Jack Nicklaus is to design a course at Qiddiya, Saudi Arabia’s upcoming entertainment, sports, and arts city destination outside Riyadh.

The retired 81-year-old US player, who has a record 18 professional major championships to his name, will break ground on the new course later this year, marking his first golf design project in the Kingdom.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, chairman of Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation, said: “To have the greatest-ever golfer commit to making his mark upon our developing golf landscape in Saudi Arabia, and at a project as significant as Qiddiya, gives us great pride.

“To be part of the Nicklaus legacy will be something that we will always cherish, especially knowing the positive impact it will have on growing awareness of the sport at a domestic level, whilst increasing our national visibility as a vibrant new golf destination.

“We are looking forward to welcoming Mr. Nicklaus for his first visit to Saudi Arabia in the coming months,” he added.

Nicklaus said: “I am excited by this project and my first golf course design in the Middle East. To be selected as one of the first international designers to work in the Kingdom is a great honor.

“I’ve already spent time looking at the topography of the land, images of the backdrop and terrain, and discussing with our design team a strategy for the course.

“The design will fully integrate the natural environment and the beautiful Qiddiya landscape, bringing together green spaces and mountainous terrain to form a picturesque canvas for both a beautiful and challenging golf course,” he added.

The Qiddiya project was announced in 2017 and work at the site – located just a 40-minute drive from the capital – began in April the following year.

In January, work started on the design for Falcon’s Flight, the signature attraction of the Six Flags Qiddiya theme park, which will be one of the key elements to the project.

The park, which is scheduled to open in 2023, will cover 32 hectares and feature 28 rides and attractions across six themed lands.