American Architect Completes Course in China

Chicago-area golf course architect Rick Jacobson has added a new desert course to his growing international portfolio. Jacobson recently completed construction of the 18-hole Desert Forest Course at Yulin Golden Dunes in the city of Yulin, China, a metropolis of 3.4 million people located an hour by air from Beijing.

Currently in the grow-in phase, Desert Forest is defined by massive sand dunes and significant elevation changes along with water features on several holes. The layout is expected to open next summer and is the first of two courses Jacobson is set to design in the residential development. The second will have a desert-links theme.

"The Yulin Golden Dunes development is located on one of the more unique sites that we have encountered anywhere in the world," Jacobson said. "It is in a high desert region with an elevation of 1,140 meters (3,750 feet) - about a half-mile high - and features topography characterized by 20- to 50-foot rolling dunes that we have used to frame holes, create strategic options, and bring interest and excitement to the golf experience."

Desert Forest stretches for 7,560 yards from the championship tees in part to account for the increased ball flight in the higher elevation. The front tees measure 5,510 yards, and there are three other sets of tees to accommodate golfers of various skills.

Water enters play on seven holes, with several connected lakes serving as a water-collection system to supply irrigation throughout the course. Jacobson is planting native shrubs, grasses, wildflowers and pines to accentuate the natural desert environment.

The landscape is intended to reflect a regional effort to reduce desertification - i.e. the expansion of desert - by reducing wind erosion with specific plant varieties, Jacobson said. "Yulin Golden Dunes is going to be unique in the Chinese market from a visual perspective and from a playability standpoint," he added. "The massive dunes will differentiate the golf experience from all other courses in this international market."

In order to accommodate its golf clientele, the development also will feature a full-service clubhouse, a two-tier covered practice range, and a large putting green.

The second course - which will be called The Links Course at Yulin Golden Dunes - is currently in the design phase with construction to begin in the future.

Among Jacobson's other China projects are Mogan Mountain Golf Club and Lion Lake Country Club. Jacobson recently broke ground on the Mogan Mountain course near Hangzhou, a city of approximately 3 million in the Yangtze River Delta about 100 miles from Shanghai.

Meanwhile, Jacobson's Moon Course at Lion Lake County Club near the city of Guangzhou (a/k/a Canton), was named "Best Golf Course Design" for 2009 by China Golf Magazine. In addition, the course has been selected as the 2010 "Best New Golf Club" in China at the "People's Choice Awards."

Jacobson has been active in international golf course design since he opened his firm in 1991 following many years with Jack Nicklaus. Jacobson's first original 18-hole design was the World Country Club in Osaka, Japan. He's currently working on several other courses in Asia.

Jacobson reunited with Nicklaus domestically when the two collaborated on Bayside Resort and Golf Club in Fenwick Island, De. The course was named among the top new courses for 2006 by both Golf Digest and Golfweek magazines.

Voted Golf Course Architect of the Year in 2007 by the National Association of Private Clubs and Directors, Jacobson also crafted such heralded tracks as Augustine GC in Stafford, Va., Bull Run CC in Haymarket, Va., Bear Trap Dunes in Ocean View, Del., and The Club at Strawberry Creek in Kenosha, Wis.