From marsh to golf in China


Sean Dudley

Golden Mountain Golf Club in Qingdao, China, designed by Schmidt-Curley, has opened for play.

During a two year build, Schmidt-Curley’s team transformed a boggy swamp into a par 72, 7,005 yard course with rugged, natural bunkering and elevated, undulating greens. Holes have been designed to offer strong angles of play – a tactic favoured by Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley mentor Pete Dye – rewarding golfers who choose an aggressive line off the tee with a shorter approach into the green.

To make the property suitable for golf, Curley and senior design associate Patrick Burton cut down a nearby hill and transferred more than two million cubic metres of dirt to fill and shape the site. The course was capped with one metre of sand to ensure drainage and permit bentgrass tees, fairways and greens to thrive.

Beach bunkers have been used to frame many holes, with the aim of maintaining pace of play by keeping balls out of the water hazards. The bunkers also serve a second, purpose: cecause the land is still prone to seasonal flooding (it's located two miles from the Yellow Sea), the bunkers may flood but the raised fairways and greens will be protected.

“We took a very difficult site and created one of our most visually dramatic and exciting designs,” said Curley. “Golden Mountain is not overly demanding in terms of length and features wide, inviting fairways, but remains quite challenging – especially if the wind is up.”