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McConnell Golf, LLC
Skydoor Goes Green
The first nine holes at Skydoor Golf Club in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province and have been completely sprigged. Richard recently returned from four days on site where he finalized seven more putting surfaces and the remaining sand bunkers in preparation for sand capping and interim sod lines. The remaining holes will all be sprigged within the next thirty days. October 15th is the target date for opening the first eighteen holes.
Hole A3: Three Sisters Peak (Par 5 - 587 Yards)
Shaper David Gray, who has shaped for Richard on numerous projects in the past decade, wrapped up a two month stint on site. He was vital in shaping the greens complexes (including the putting surfaces) as well as the sand bunkers. After completing some work in Hilton Head, David will return to Skydoor to begin shaping the next nine holes, on which the client has just begun earthmoving operations. The project will continue uninterrupted and Richard will be back in late July or early August to finalize sand bunker shapes and begin painting grassing lines.
Unfortunately, the same seems not to be true for other projects in China as the central government recently shut down all golf projects throughout China (except on Hainan Island) for review. This is not the first time a country-wide shutdown was demanded from Beijing. In fact it was only three years since the last review. Even though golf construction has been rampant in China, technically the construction of new golf courses has been outlawed since 2004.
The primary concern with the government is the use of farmland for golf purposes so not every project will be reviewed. The shutdown started in early May in Yunnan Province. No one is too worried, though, and most expect construction to resume. Richard’s project in Zhangjiajie is not affected because there is no farmland being used for golf purposes. Frankly, it is hard to grow significant crops on 2:1 slopes, even in China.
But that doesn’t mean that Skydoor didn’t have its own government scrutiny. It seems the Mayor of our humble village was unhappy that one of our holes did not have any sand bunkers surrounding the green. After months of trying to get Richard to add sand, an ultimatum was handed down, mostly to Richard’s amusement. Nonetheless, Richard relented for the good of the project and added one bunker. Thankfully, there are two other greens complexes that are bunker free, an important aspect of variety for Richard Mandell Golf Architecture. The Mayor seems to be ok with things now that he has his precious sand bunker. Richard, in turn, plans to sit in on the next City Council meeting to discuss improving traffic patterns. He has a few traffic lights and sidewalks he is demanding.
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