Schmidt-Curley announces new courses at Mission Hills

By November 2, 2010, 7:06 pm

The WGC-HSBC Champions is returning to Shanghai. But that's not the only reason you should give China's golf courses a second look.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Schmidt-Curley Design, one of the world's most active and innovative golf course design firms, announces three new courses have opened for play at Mission Hills Resort Hainan, China, the country's only tropical island which the government announced would be developed into an International Tourism Resort by 2020.

Designed by company co-founder and 25-year industry veteran Brian Curley, the new Blackstone, Stone Outback and Stone Ruins courses are Schmidt-Curley's latest collaboration with Mission Hills China, Asia's leader in sports and leisure development. The firm is architect of record for 10 of Mission Hills Shenzhen's 12 acclaimed golf courses.

Set on tropical Hainan Island – popularly referred to as the 'Hawaii of the East' – and just 15 minutes from Haikou Meilan International Airport and downtown, the courses are destined to be regarded among Asia's finest layouts and the world's greatest collection of volcanic golf courses. The Blackstone Course has already been tabbed to host the 2010 Mission Hills Star Trophy and 2011 Omega Mission Hills World Cup.

Blackstone Course

Blackstone is a 350-acre core golf course that weaves through a striking landscape of mature trees; thick, jungle vegetation; and expansive lakes and wetlands. To make construction possible, the site's dominating characteristic – a dense bed of lava rock – was capped to an average depth of over one meter with soil transported from 20 miles away.

'The volcanic theme is integral to the design,' says Curley. 'Wild, irregular bunker edges and transitional sand areas meld seamlessly into the lava rock framing many holes. Uncapped portions of the lava bed periodically cross the line of play, requiring forced carries and creating a dramatic visual contrast to the vibrant, green turf and sand. We also incorporated lava rock walls and ancient village ruins as a testament to the site's past.'

Dramatic elevation changes punctuate the rolling topography. To preserve the abundant lava rock and stately trees, great care was taken to discover as many natural holes as possible. Paspallum fairways gently sweep across the land and were routed to maximize surface drainage thereby limiting drain inlets commonly found on the region's courses.

'We wanted it to appear as if liquid turf was poured from the sky and flowed along the terrain just as the lava did centuries ago,' says Curley.

'From tee to green, players experience an immaculate blanket of turf – Blackstone does not feature any rough, even on bunker fingers and surrounds,' says Curley. 'The hard-line edges associated with most golf courses are non-existent.'

The course begins in the more heavily wooded portion of the property with a compelling variety of holes and natural amphitheater green settings. It crescendos by snaking through raised terrain, offering excellent spectator vantage points for the closing holes. Intimate green to tee relationships will make the course easily walkable for players and spectators alike when it hosts major international tournaments.

Says Curley: 'At over 7,600 yards and with several risk / reward opportunities on the inward nine, Blackstone will quickly prove to be one of the world's premier tournament courses. We created not only an outstanding tournament layout, but one planned with all the facilities and accoutrements needed to host the sport's biggest events.'

Stone Outback Course

Inspired by the Australian Sandbelt's iconic courses, Stone Outback is distinguished by large, high-flashed bunkers with crisp, thick lips rising above fairway and green surfaces. The gently rolling site is populated with Eucalyptus trees, further evoking its Australian influences of Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath and Metropolitan Golf Club.

'While some of the bunkers are formal and surrounded by turf, many transition without a clean edge to the native jungle vegetation bordering holes,' says Curley. 'This creates a unique and much more natural landscape.'

Its wide playing corridors – with fairways featuring only surface drainage – encourage second-shot creativity into large, undulating greens. Square tee boxes add to the distinct look. Like the Blackstone and Stone Ruins courses, it sprawls over a huge expanse of land yet offers adjacent greens and tees to promote walking.

Stone Ruins Course

Stone Ruins pays homage to the classic American golf courses built at the turn of the 20th century. It has a distinct, authentic feel – holes were routed to leave the densely forested site as undisturbed as possible – and is marked by quirky features typically associated with revered courses such as National Golf Links, Chicago Golf Club and others. Abrupt mounding; deep pot bunkers; severe ridges; blind shots; varied, sometimes geometric, bunkering; an array of green sizes and wicker basket pins are highlights.

'The oldest course in China is a new course in Haikou,' says Curley. 'Stone Ruins provides a welcome relief from the many cookie-cutter layouts that dominate golf today, recalling an architecture period when experimentation and expression were much more openly embraced.'

For more information about completed and current projects, visit www.schmidt-curley.com or call 480.483.1994.

About Schmidt-Curley Design

Founded by partners Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley with offices in Scottsdale, Arizona; Haikou, Hainan Island, China and Kunming, China, Schmidt-Curley is a full-service, international golf course architecture and master-planning firm with more than 100 layouts in 24 countries, including the U.S., Thailand, China, Vietnam, Mexico, Egypt, Sweden and Korea. The tandem is responsible for crafting 10 of the 12 courses at storied Mission Hills Shenzhen – the 'World's Largest Golf Club,' accredited by Guinness World Records.

Schmidt-Curley teamed with Pete Dye, Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal, Ernie Els, David Duval, Annika Sorenstam, Vijay Singh, David Leadbetter and Jumbo Ozaki to create a golf experience unlike any other globally. High profile, award-winning projects from Schmidt-Curley include Bali Hai and Siena Golf Clubs (Las Vegas), Amata Spring Golf Club (Chonburi, Thailand, four-time host of the PGA European Tour's Royal Trophy), Terra Lago Golf Club (Indio, California, site of the Skins Game from 1999 - 2002), Twin Creeks Golf Club (Cedar Park, Texas) and Crosby National Golf Club (Rancho Santa Fe, California).

Schmidt-Curley has also worked extensively with golf's biggest names – including Dye, Faldo, Jack Nicklaus and Fred Couples on numerous high-profile projects – and boasts four ASGCA members (Lee Schmidt, Brian Curley, Grant Haserot and Andy Raugust).

Producing demanding yet beautiful and enjoyable courses, Schmidt-Curley strives to create golf experiences that stir the senses and elevate golfers' appreciations for the land and the game. By balancing classic golf course architecture with ever-changing contemporary technology, Schmidt-Curley places an emphasis on site-adaptive courses, memorable and enjoyable for all levels of play and always designed for cost-efficient maintenance and operations.

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Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

The Monday morning headline will be …

REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



What will be the winning score?

HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”