Golf/Golf Architecture

Stoneforest International: Golf in the Chinese Badlands

In case you haven’t heard, golf in China is sort of taking off these days. Last year we heard from Dave Zinkand of Coore & Crenshaw on their new project in “China’s Hawaii”, and the other day I learned about Stoneforest, a three-course complex from Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley in a crazy rockscape that reminds me more than a little bit of the Badlands.

While the first thing that leaps to mind in viewing these pictures is how long it’ll take for someone to get beaned by a Mach 1 rebound off of one of these formations, Brian Curley says there’s room to play. “The photos focus on the rock but there is plenty of turf,” he said in an email.

Stoneforest is located in Yunnan Province, which is in the south-central interior of the country and shares borders with Burma, Laos and Vietnam. “This region is all cool season grasses,” Curley says. “So it will have bent grass fairways tees, greens. That is the reason so many Yunnan area courses get ranked so highly.”

I can’t sign off on this post without also sharing a few highlights from Stoneforest’s website. In fairness, it’s pretty well done, with few egregious examples of the “Chinglish” that can be so entertaining to English-speaking visitors, but nevertheless there are a few enjoyable turns of phrase:

“The Stoneforest International Country Club is a comprehensive leisure cluster that integrates sports, races, health preservation, culture, entertainments, delicacies, businesses, exhibitions and accommodation into one and also the first full membership golf club in southwest China. ”

“The layered Karst landform is so fascinating. The scattering strange stones and elegant stones are like exquisite bonsai, being more beautiful than people can take in.”

I’ve honestly plumbed the depths looking for a witty comment and came up empty-handed. Existentially speaking, this one is iron-clad.

“Stoneforest International Country Club is an exclusive golf club open to member only that integrates natural ecology, golf and features of high-end life into one. While creating a unique culture as a place for the intellectual and wealthy circles, it makes you feel the comfort and calm while immersing yourself in the nature and in the Stone Forest like cultivating dhyana and one’s morality. It is the common perfect state you and I are pursuing together.”

Hey, speak for yourself, buddy! And now for the payoff pitch:

“Stoneforest International Country Club becomes a model of favorable climate, fabulous geographical position and support of the people because of our rock-solid true faith, star-like illuminating expectation for perfection and our moon-like bright mind.”

YES. American copywriters, take note. This is what they call confidence in your product. “7,200-yard championship course”? “Playable for all skill levels”? “Five sets of tees”? Please. If your copy can’t convince the Rev. Sun Myung Moon to cut a check and become a member, you’re not trying hard enough.

Photos: Ryan Farrow.


2 comments for “Stoneforest International: Golf in the Chinese Badlands”

  1. That is absolutely amazing. One of the most incredible golf courses I’ve ever seen. Can’t imagine the number of crazy bounces you’re going to see out there!

    Posted by Michael Green | February 25, 2011, 5:00 am
  2. Chinese “Arrowhead”

    Posted by John Dunn | March 17, 2011, 6:08 pm

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