American architect Mark Hollinger expects a six year labour of love to come to an end next spring when his course at the new Juizhaigou resort in the mountains of Chinaʼs Sichuan province finally opens.
Built on behalf of Chengdu-based development firm Honyee Investments, the co-owner of Hollingerʼs Luxe Hills course in the city, Juizhaigou will be attached to a 400-room resort hotel run by Banyan Tree. The first phase of the hotel is currently under construction.
“The Juizhaigou area is very popular with Chinese and foreign tourists, and has over three million visitors per year,” said Hollinger, a partner in the JMP design firm. “They come to experience the great natural beauty of its mountains, scenic rivers, waterfalls, and Tibetan culture. It is a similar setting to Yosemite National Park in California.”
“The golf course is built on the most exhilarating natural scenic site I have ever seen,” he added. “The views from many of the holes have views of over 50 miles and the setting is totally pristine. It is not a walking course, as we have tried to use the natural setting as much as possible – we wanted it to appear as if it grew out of the natural landforms. But the holes are very strategic with numerous angles of play from mostly elevated tees to wide fairways situated among a variety of natural hazards. All the landscaping we integrated into the setting was totally indigenous: trees, shrubs and groundcover was all transplanted from the site. We have introduced nothing from off site, other than the turfgrasses and an accent alpine wildflower seed mix that was especially formulated for this location.”
The long construction schedule at Juizhaigou is partly down to the rugged site, but also to the impact of the huge earthquake that hit Sichuan in 2008. “I was in Chengdu when the quake hit, and my onsite team was in Juizhaigou. They were not able to leave for over a month,” said Hollinger. “After the earthquake, all our earthmoving machinery was requisitioned by the Chinese government for almost a year to assist with emergency repairs to roads, dams and other infrastructure.”