Thursday, May 10, 2012

china A Moratorium To Dye For

A question regarding China’s moratorium on golf construction: Exactly how meaningless is it?

I ask because Dye Designs Group recently secured permission to start building not just one but two golf courses in the People’s Republic. “Two of our China projects have been green-lighted to break ground as soon as possible,” reports O’Brien McGarey, one of the firm’s principals, in an e-mail.

For the record, China’s moratorium is still in force. But developers are obviously finding ways to circumvent it.

As a result, McGarey’s firm is moving ahead with Guilin Sports, Tourism & Leisure Center in Guilin (in the GuangXi Zhuang Autonomous Region) and Minqi International Golf Club in Ruili, an outpost in western Yunnan Province. The courses will be designed by McGarey’s wife, Cynthia Dye-McGarey, who maintains offices in Englewood, Colorado and Shenzhen, China.

In Guilin, the couple is working for Guilin XinChang Investment Group, which owns a spread near the Karst Mountains that will eventually include 100 villas, a hotel with a conference center, and a hot-spring day spa. The site may not be ideal for golf, but it sure does catch the eye, as it features both karst landforms and natural springs.

“Of all the properties that I have walked in my lifetime,” Dye-McGarey said in a press release, “this is the most surreal setting.”

Construction on Dye-McGarey’s 18-hole, championship-caliber golf course is supposed to begin in July.

The course in Ruili will likely be more of a challenge. Ruili is located along China’s border with Myanmar (formerly Burma), and, like many of the world’s border cities, it’s a hot-bed of criminal activity. Last year, an architect employed by Joe Obringer, an Atlanta, Georgia-based designer, was kidnapped in the area while working on a golf project. His captors held him for four days, until they got the ransom they demanded.

Minqi International, which is being developed by Minqi Estate Company, Ltd., will consist of tourist-friendly attractions including housing, a resort-style hotel, and an 18-hole golf course. With luck, McGarey believes, the developers could break ground on the course before construction commences in Guilin.

These two courses are among nearly a dozen that Dye Designs has in various states of design and construction in the People’s Republic. The group includes Sky Oasis Golf Club in Yunnan Province, Xing Ning Golf Club in Xing Ning in Guandong Province, and two courses in the vicinity of Kunming City: Lin Da Fu Golden Beach Resort and Kunming Caiyunwan Lake.

For the better part of the past year, the moratorium has put most of the firm’s dozen or so Chinese projects on ice. But if every one of them got approved tomorrow, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised.

Some information in this post originally appeared in the October 2011 and March 2012 issues of the World Edition of the Golf Course Report.