Golf Course Architecture: Issue 55 - January 2019

53 The belief in the industry was that golf development was permitted, indeed encouraged, on Hainan, even at a point when the government was trying to choke it off in the rest of the country. “Simapo was actually fully permitted by the provincial government,” says Doak. “But the project was in a very visible location, and the national government didn’t want to look like they were making exceptions to their crackdown on illegal activity, so they ordered it closed anyway, with the local government responsible to the developer for reimbursing their costs! Of course, that was never going to happen, but my friend suggested they would make good by granting more development rights to our client. “I’ve had a few of my courses close, so it’s not as big a deal to me as it was for Eric Iverson, who spent three years of his life going back and forth to China. My wife has always said art is about the creation, not the end result; but she didn’t like me being away that much, either. So I guess I’m a bit more wary of potential projects now if I’m not sure they will be around for the long term.” Dana Fry is another veteran China hand, settling in Hong Kong for a time. Fry’s CTS Tycoon club in Shenzhen was forced to close in 2017 – but here the situation is a little different, as the reason for closure was made public. “Tycoon was located very close to a reservoir that was a major source of drinking water for Shenzhen,” says Fry. “In November 2017, the club was informed by the regional government that it was part of a zone protecting the reservoir, and would have to close.” Tycoon, founded in 1999, was one of the most popular courses in the golf- rich Shenzhen region. Members were predictably unhappy at the closure, with one man telling a newspaper he acquired membership in 2011 for nearly HK$300,000 (US$40,000) but only received HK$50,000 in compensation, the original price of membership back in the early 90s. “The central thing I have learned from this whole process is that there appears to be no rhyme or reason to it. Many courses had conflicts with every one of the concerns I listed yet still survive,” says Curley. “I still believe the establishment of an approval process would be a great benefit for the country and environmental concerns should be at the forefront of decision-making. I have always felt that, in time, golf may not just reappear but actually be welcomed. Many factors could influence this, especially if the country ever fields a top-level PGA Tour player. “President Xi has done great things for China on many levels, especially with regard to corruption, and appears to be in for a very long term and loved by most. My understanding of the way things work is that policies like this typically get repealed or removed by the next round of governance, or the existing politburo may be seen as changing their minds and subject to questioning of why it may have been put in place to begin with. Better to let the next guy have his own policy. “In addition, golf is just a pebble in the shoe of politics when there are far greater issues to deal with. In a country of 1.5 billion, not even one per cent play the game. I am hopeful, but not anticipating any movement in the near future.” GCA CTS Tycoon in Shenzhen, designed by Dana Fry, was closed in 2017 Photo: Fry-Straka CH INA’ S LOST COURSES