Golf Course Architecture: Issue 55 - January 2019

48 CH INA’ S LOST COURSES Photo: Ryan Farrow “Believe it or not, there were many areas of standard open fields of red clay where we just found holes, relying on the stone formations mostly as a backdrop to greens. This would be no different from most properties where you play to significant backdrops, maybe of dense trees. The main challenge was connecting these areas in a logical manner without too much green-to-tee length. But the reality is most of the holes were ‘there’. The rock that posed the most difficulty was the small surface rock that required capping. To do so, we found plenty of areas of good material where we cut as much as we could to dig lakes and use the cut to cap the rock. The rock was sharp and hazardous, bushes were thorny, and the open areas and forests were thick with spider webs with massive spiders, so walking the site was a bit of an adventure. The funny thing is that the site had been covered with eucalyptus trees, so finding holes was tough as you could only see so far. “Fairly soon after opening we started hearing hints that it might be in the firing line. I think there never was a real grand opening but an ongoing soft opening stream of people. They never really did any advertising. I really believe that its closure had much more to do with the overall China golf situation than anything site specific. The only site-specific comments had to do with the back nine of the C course (the most spectacular setting) where there seemed to be more pushback – but that is also the area that is essentially an expansion of the park just over the hill. You have to remember there are three courses and many of the holes play within very typical settings with the occasional outcrop. I really think there would have been zero issues had China not clamped down on the golf market.” Mark Hollinger of design firm JMP is another old China hand, having built almost 30 courses in the country. “I have a few heart-breaking casualties,” he says. “A good example is the Silver Cloud course in the city of Fuzhou. The site was in a valley surrounded by mountain just a short drive from the downtown portions of Fuzhou. Very convenient for a great many golfers, yet very private. This is the home province of President Xi; whether that had an impact on what happened we will probably never know. Most of the site was an existing poor-quality golf course built many years ago by a Taiwanese developer. It had all the official permits to operate which were properly and legally obtained by my client, the new developer. We added more land, blew up the existing golf course and built a new beautiful 18-hole championship course which would have a convention hotel and clubhouse as well as some surrounding in-town residential components overlooking the golf. “No actual hints popped up regarding the golf course being in line for closure. We built and grew-in the course to a finished form and had it maintained to maturity through test golf play and were getting very close to an opening date. The new clubhouse and hotel, which were planned and submitted to the local government for final approval, had been delayed in a last round of plan review by the local government for no