Schmidt-Curley’s Inner Mongolian Links Masterpiece
April 14, 2016
Schmidt-Curley Design’s pioneering spirit has once more come to the fore in the shape of an authentic links-style course on the edge of the Gobi Desert and along the banks of the Yellow River.
Underlining their reputation as one of the world’s most active and innovative golf course architectural companies, Schmidt-Curley Design’s first project in Inner Mongolia is touted to change misconceptions about golf in China as well as inspiring developers to seek out great, natural sites.
Featuring 20-metre sand dunes, the 18-hole Dalu Dunes layout will be unlike any other golfing venue in the world’s most populous country – and will be open to the public.
Ahead of its soft opening next month, Lee Schmidt, Principal, Schmidt-Curley Design, said: “We are excited to introduce the Chinese population to a real links golf setting. The course consists of non-returning nines to make the most out of this dramatic terrain which features punchbowl greens, redans, dramatic fall away greens as well as challenging plateaus.”
Throughout the design process, Schmidt looked at not only preserving the existing vegetation and natural sand dunes but also the micro undulations in the fairways and green contours.
Schmidt, currently serving as President of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, said: “Keeping with the great links courses of the British Isles we recognise the importance of challenging golfers with a variety of uneven lies, partially blind shots, and opening up the golfer’s eyes to a variety of ways to play each hole.”
The fairways are wide (70-80 yards in spots) in order to keep a playable golf course during the windy season (Spring-Early Summer) which can see winds upward of 20-30 miles per hour.
Brian Curley, Principal, Schmidt-Curley Design, said: “We want golfers to think about where they want a shot to end up, not necessarily where they want it to land and stop as they have become accustomed to with the overly manicured and lush conditions found in places like Beijing or southern China.
“We hope this design will not only change the misconceptions of the game in China, but also inspire developers to seek out great, natural sites like those found here, on the edge of the Gobi Desert.”
Indeed, in terms of its potential impact on golf course architecture in China, some are already drawing comparisons with the Ben Crenshaw/Bill Coore-designed Sand Hills Golf Club in north central Nebraska where the land was shaped by the elements. In the aftermath of Sand Hills’ opening in the mid-1990s, hundreds of courses around the world followed those ideals.
Curley agrees. He said: “This course in Dalu could have the same impact on China”. In addition to the main course, a host of other facilities are also planned at the site, including an 18-hole par-three course, a putting course and a full service double-ended driving range, stretching to 400 yards.
Furthermore, a Golf Academy on north end of the driving range will feature a putting green, chipping green and five-acre short-game area with five separate target greens, ranging in distance from 40 yards to 170 yards.
About Schmidt-Curley Design
Founded in 1997 by partners Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley, Schmidt-Curley Design (www.schmidt-curley.com) is a full-service, international golf course architecture and master-planning firm. The tandem – leading fully-staffed offices in the USA (Scottsdale, Arizona) and China (Haikou, Hainan Island and Kunming) – has been named GOLF Magazine's ‘Architect of the Year’ and Asian Golf Monthly's ‘Best Golf Course Architects’.
Schmidt-Curley has designed more than 150 layouts in 25 countries. High-profile credits include 10 of the 12 courses at storied Mission Hills Shenzhen – the ‘World's Largest Golf Club’ – and all 10 at Mission Hills’ Hainan Island resort. Mission Hills Hainan’s Lava Fields Course is the only Chinese design ranked among Golf World’s ‘Top 100’, and was named GOLF Magazine's ‘Best New International Course’ of 2011.
Other award-winning results include Mission Hills Hainan’s Blackstone Course; Thailand’s Siam CC and Amata Spring GC; Southern Dunes GC (Arizona, USA); The Wilderness Club (Montana, USA) and French Lick Resort’s Donald Ross Course (Indiana, USA). The 54-hole Stone Forest International CC near Kunming is also garnering global acclaim.
Schmidt-Curley has worked extensively with golf’s biggest names – including Pete Dye, Nick Faldo, Jack Nicklaus and Fred Couples on numerous noteworthy projects – and boasts five ASGCA members (Schmidt, Curley, Grant Haserot, Andy Raugust and Patrick Burton).
Producing demanding yet beautiful and enjoyable courses, Schmidt-Curley strives to create golf experiences that stir the senses and elevate golfers’ appreciations for the land and the game. By balancing classic golf course architecture with ever-changing contemporary technology, Schmidt-Curley places an emphasis on site-adaptive courses, memorable and satisfying for all levels of play and always designed for cost-efficient maintenance and operations.