Brian Curley of Schmidt-Curley turned his attention to Chinese golf course design years ago, before it was the place for innovative design. Upon first arrival, the renowned designer was aware that golf had yet to seep into the Chinese culture like it had in America – but with the addition of a few quality courses, golf has become a pastime akin to their American counterpart for businessmen and residential spectators alike. “I am proud to have been associated with so much of China’s golf movement and its future. People have no idea of how good the courses are – and will – be.”
Brian Curley’s design company is on the frontier of Asian design, making them one of the world’s most renowned golf course architects in the world, and helping Brian land some of the most sought-after and prestigious deals, including the Mission Hills Hainan and Stone Forest International Country Club. The strength of Schmidt-Curley has been portrayed in ten of the Mission Hills Hainan designs, including recent additions Stone Quarry, Shadow Dunes, Double Pin and Stepping Stone; and Stone Forest International Country Club’s three courses.

As part of Curley’s partnership with Mission Hills in southern China, the designer was asked to tackle Mission Hills Resort Haikou all on his own. The aptly named Blackstone is the tenth course in the Mission Hills Resort, but has by-and -large become its flagship green, as expert and novice golfers reminiscence about the strategic placement of bunkered holes and lengthy fairways; and particularly his use of the local landscape. “The lava rock base has been incorporated as an integral element of the design by weaving irregular lines of turf and rock, eliminating the typical hard line edge of most courses,” says Curley. “Adding to the look are wild, irregular bunker edges and transitional sand edges that effortlessly work into nativelava rock.” Amassing 7808 yards with a par-73, Blackstone’s showcase will be the home to this year’s Omega Mission Hills World Cup. In the years since development, it also hosted the Mission Hills Star Trophy, Asia’s first celebrity pro-am, where celebrities Catherine Zeta-Jones and Matthew McConaughey swung aside legends Greg Norman and Nick Faldo.

Brushed thick with trees and jungle-like vegetation, expansive lakes and wetlands, both professionals and neophytes celebrate Blackstone’s challenge as well as its exceptional, and tactical, landscape. While not a fan of the term “signature holes,” Brian points to Blackstone’s 16th as its most recognized, due in part to its drivable variety – including an abundance of tee options and a green surrounded by severe slopes and deep bunkers.
 "This hole can yield small and big numbers – a hallmark of a good, short par-4,” says Curley.
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