Haikou, China: Two Schmidt-Curley Design courses at Mission Hills Haikou have received acclaim in the wake of the latest top-level professional events to be staged at the world-renowned Hainan Island resort.
The Blackstone Course was the scene of Korean Ryu So-yeon’s triumph in last month’s World Ladies Championship.
Meanwhile, the Sandbelt Trails Course had the honour of hosting the Buick Open last week, the opening leg of the 2015 PGA Tour China Series.
Brian Curley, Principal at award-winning Schmidt-Curley Design, a long-time member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation, said: “We are honoured that the Blackstone and Sandbelt Trails courses at Mission Hills Haikou were selected for these tournaments and that they received so many positive comments from the players.”
Ten-course Mission Hills Haikou – entirely master-planned and designed by Schmidt-Curley – has established itself as one of the most prominent tournament venues in the world’s most populous nation.
The Sandbelt Trails Course was inspired by the Australian Sandbelt’s iconic courses.
Opened in 2010, Sandbelt Trails’ wide playing corridors encourage second-shot creativity into large, undulating greens. Fairways and putting surfaces are frequently flanked by yawning, high-flashed bunkers, evoking its Australian influences of revered courses such as Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath and Metropolitan Golf Club.
Speaking after his come-from-behind victory in the Buick Open, New Zealander Josh Geary described the layout as ‘superb’.
Four shots off the pace heading into the final round, Geary closed with a four-under-par 68 for a winning total of eight-under 280.
He said: “Starting the final round I was really hoping to win and thought if I shot a good number it was possible, given the conditions and the way the course was playing, which was very tough.
“I’ve been very impressed with Mission Hills Haikou. It’s my first time here and they have been fantastic hosts. The courses are superb.”
A fortnight earlier, Major winners Park In-bee, Suzann Pettersen and Ryu So-yeon headlined the World Ladies Championship, a joint-sanction event between the Ladies European Tour and China LPGA Tour.
With rounds of 72, 73, 65 and 69, it was world number eight Ryu who emerged victorious on the par-73 Blackstone Course. Her four-day total of 13-under 279 was one stroke ahead of compatriot and defending champion Park.
Host of the 2011 World Cup of Golf, the course weaves through a striking landscape of mature trees, lava rock, and expansive lakes and wetlands. Lava rock walls and village ruins created years ago remain as a testament to the site’s past.
The Korean duo of Ryu and Park were joined in their praise of the course by Australian Rebecca Artis and rising Chinese star Ye Lei, who finished in 55th place to claim the leading amateur prize.
Artis, fresh from a runner-up finish in the previous week’s New South Wales Open on the Australian Ladies’ Professional Golf Tour, said: “I love the golf course, I think it’s great. It’s in really good condition – a great golf course.”
For 13-year-old prodigy Ye, who attends international school in Shanghai, it was a week to remember. “It has just been a great experience, to see what life is like for the professionals and to be able to learn from them.
“The Blackstone Course is really a challenge and a great course to learn from. It’s in wonderful condition and it has tested my game.”
Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, Schmidt-Curley Design has two fully-staffed China offices (in Haikou and Kunming) to promote quicker mobilisation, lower travel costs and other valuable advantages over competitors.
Singapore: Michael Braidwood, one of the most respected educators on club management in the EMEA region, will be the presenter for the third instalment of the Asian Golf Industry Federation’s Sustainability Series.