Architect Jacobson Opens First China Course

Chicago-area golf course architect Rick Jacobson has opened his first 18-hole golf course in China. The Moon Course at Lion Lake Resort located northwest of Guangzhou, China (a/k/a Canton) had a "soft opening" in August in advance of the November 20-22 Ambassadors' Cup Invitational, where ambassadors from more than 30 nations participated in the international competition.

"Rick Jacobson is the most responsible and passionate person among all the designers I have ever worked with," said John Ho, vice president of Lion Lake Resort. "Rick has made many site inspections and he provided the construction team with detailed instructions. He likes to do things in person, and thus his design concepts are carried out more effectively and the construction process runs more efficiently."

While the Moon Course at Lion Lake is Jacobson's first course opening in China, he is currently working on a number of projects. Among those is Lion Lake's new 18-hole Moonlight Course, now under construction. The Lion Lake facility is a mixed-use hotel, resort, residential, and office development located in the China's largest golf market. Internationally known golf course management firm Troon Golf operates the golf facilities.

"We are very pleased that golfers are enjoying the Moon Course," Jacobson said. "The process of designing and building a golf course is most satisfying when all the work is done and people are enjoying the great game of golf."

Jacobson said he also is proud of the inaugural Ambassadors' Cup. "Golf is a sport that does not build walls between people; rather builds it bridges that connect people worldwide," Jacobson told the contestants.

The Moon Course and the soon-to-be-completed Moonlight Courses are a study in contrasts. The Moon Course is an unrefined quasi-inland links course that features native grasses, pine and juniper plantings, and classic bunkers with native grass eyebrows. Red rock outcroppings define the course's dramatic visual character and are utilized as a design element throughout all 18 holes. The Moon Course has five sets of tees to accommodate golfers of varying skill levels. It measures 7,115 yards from the tips and 5,084 yards from the forward tees, with three sets of tees in between.

The Moonlight Course will be located on the south end of the resort and will have a much more refined character than the Moon Course. Moonlight has a highly manicured look with a lush tropical landscape and bunkers with long flowing lines in the style of Alister McKenzie, designer of such classics as Augusta National, Cypress Point, and Royal Melbourne. The Moonlight Course will be a similar yardage to the Moon Course and will have five sets of tees, Jacobson said. Another similarity is that both courses feature streams, lakes, and waterfalls.

"The two courses are a very dramatic contrast in design styles that will provide golfers with a variety of challenges and differing golf experiences," Jacobson said. "We are very pleased that the Moonlight Course along with the Moon Course will form the foundation of one of China's premier golf resorts. Golfers will find both courses to be visually dynamic and uniquely challenging to their golfing skills."

Lion Lake features a two-level practice range, two large putting greens, and a short game practice area. All 36 holes will operate out of a full-service clubhouse.

"The Moon Course has been very well received by Chinese golfers as well as travelers from Europe and America," Ho said. "More than 30 nations sent their delegates to play in the Ambassadors Cup. All loved the course and were looking forward to playing again next year."

Jacobson has a number of other projects underway in China:

* The Chengdu Wolong Valley International Golf Club is an 18-hole championship course located at the focal point of a thriving mixed-use residential, commercial, hotel, and retail development in the city of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province situated in southwestern China.

* An 18-hole resort course called Chaozhou (JOW-ZO) Golf Club located about an hour by air from Hong Kong.

* The Si Hui (SEE-WAY) Golf Club, a 27-hole "destination" course located in the Guangdong province near the city of Guangzhou (pop. 11 million), better known to the western world as Canton. Guangdong province is the home of Mission Hills, the world's largest golf resort, just a half-hour by air from Hong Kong.

Jacobson's other international designs include an 18-hole seaside resort course at the Jewel of the Sea in southern Italy's Calabria province and the World Country Club in Osaka, Japan, an 18-hole private course.

Jacobson collaborated with Jack Nicklaus on Bayside Resort and Golf Club in Fenwick Island, Del., which was named among the top new courses for 2006 by both Golf Digest and Golfweek magazines. Jacobson worked with Nicklaus on many of Nicklaus' high-profile projects before starting his own firm in 1991.

Jacobson also is widely known for his renovations of several highly regarded classic courses, including Pete Dye's Des Moines CC, site of the 1999 U.S. Senior Open; Oak Park CC and Bob O'Link GC, both Chicago area Donald Ross courses; North Shore CC in Glenview, Ill., an H.S. Colt/C.H. Alison course; Glen Oak CC in Glen Ellyn, Ill., a Tom Bendelow original, and Sunset Ridge CC in Northfield, Ill., voted No. 1 Renovation of the Year in 2005 by Golf Inc. Magazine.