New Golf Course Coming to Inner Mongolia

A new links-style golf course in Inner Mongolia will be opening soon on the edge of the Gobi Desert and along the banks of the Yellow River.

The project is being overseen by the U.S.-based Schmidt-Curley Design, which has done many golf projects in Asia. The firm's first project in Inner Mongolia is touted to change misconceptions about golf in China as well as inspire developers to seek out outstanding, natural sites.

Featuring many sand dunes, the 18-hole Dalu Dunes layout will be unlike any other golfing venue in the world's most populous country - and it'll be open to the public. Ahead of its soft opening in July, company principal Lee Schmidt said of the project: "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."

The par-72 course, which measures 7,195 yards from the back tees, lies about 90 kilometers south of the Inner Mongolian capital of Hohhot, in a small town called Dalu.

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, current president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, said: "Keeping with the great links courses of the British Isles we recognize 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 the course playable during the windy season of spring and early summer, which can see winds upward of 20-30 miles per hour.

Depending on daily pin locations and wind direction, Schmidt-Curley have provided alternate routes, allowing golfers to find the right section of the fairway or hit running shots into greens using the side of a hill or mound instead of flying a greenside bunker.

Company principal Brian Curley said of the course: "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."

In terms of its potential impact on Chinese golf course architecture, some observers are drawing comparisons with the Ben Crenshaw/Bill Coore-designed Sand Hills Golf Club in remote north-central Nebraska, where the land was shaped by the elements. After Sand Hills' opening in the mid-1990s, hundreds of courses around the world followed those ideals.

Curley agrees, noting, "This course in Dalu could have the same impact on China, a market that has demanded more modern, garden-like courses and historically has been slower to respond to new trends."

In addition to the main course, other facilities are planned at the site, including an 18-hole par-3 layout, a putting course and a double-ended driving range, stretching 400 yards.

A Golf Academy on the north end of the range will have 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.

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