In a true case of east meets west, golf course architects Dana Fry and Jason Straka have signed on to design a rare course in the Inner Mongolia region of China that will have hints of iconic American courses like Bandon Dunes and Sand Hills.
The course at Batu Bay Golf Club will be perched on a bluff populated by sand dunes and overlooking the immense Batu Bay reservoir. Owned by the Inner Mongolia-based Oriental Holding Group, Batu Bay will have a Banyan Tree Hotel on site, and the course will be open to the hotel's guests.
"Batu Bay has the chance to become one of the world's great courses due to the excellent soil conditions, natural sand scrub vegetation and awesome views of the reservoir," said Fry. "It has a Sand Hills (Nebraska) or Bandon Dunes (Oregon) feel to it."
Though isolated – like Bandon Dunes and Sand Hills in that respect – the site contains hundreds of acres of sand dunes on a hill above the large reservoir. Native scrub covers the entire site, but there are virtually no trees anywhere on the property.
"We will move very little earth," Fry told Golf Course Architecture . "Because of the wind, we will make the turf areas around 50 percent wider than normal. Tees will be treated as if they are desert tee boxes with native scrub around them, and the scrub will border both sides of the holes, except in areas where we connect the turf between holes. Bunkers will have a wild and woolly look. We will plant fescue everywhere except the greens. It will be special."
Course construction is scheduled to begin next May, with the layout slated to open in late summer 2014.
The venue is three hours from the regional capital of Ordos, and the closest airport is in Yulin City, about a one-hour drive away. The region, however, is a growing tourist destination known for its natural beauty.
The Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design firm takes the word 'global' in its name seriously. The company – which was formed earlier this year – is based in Dublin, Ohio (where Straka is), but also has offices in Brazil and Hong Kong (where Fry lives).