Journey to China to tackle a fantasy calendar course
Stoneforest International Country Club Kunming, Yunnan, China 7,528 yards, par 72 Green fees: $120-$230 011-86-871-5170263 stoneforestgolf.com Looking for the most unique and spectacular new inland course in the world? You'll find it at Stoneforest International Country Club, located at 6,500 feet in the mountains of southwestern China.
Stoneforest is a complex of three courses, the 'A' (Yufeng Ridge); the 'B' (Master's Resort); and the 'C' (Leaders' Peak). While the 7,203-yard 'B' is considered the club's tournament course and sports some rock-solid moments of its own, the 'A', which opened in November, and the 'C,' which debuted in June, are the stars. The courses hug the edge of the Stone Forest, which is part of a national scenic area, and weave through astonishing limestone pillars that resemble a petrified forest.
Architect Brian Curley managed to emphasize strategy and playability while avoiding gimmickry, allowing each layout to yield to the setting. The result is pure fun, with dozens of thrilling encounters with the multicolored monoliths.
Highlights on the 7,241-yard 'A' include the par-4 8th, par-4 13th and par-3 16th, each cocooned by rock spires. The 'C' course wins best in show, though, for the early holes that tumble through mature pines and later holes such as the mind-boggling, short par-4 11th (above) and the all-or-nothing par-3 12th. You may never make the journey to get here, but take it from one who has: This place rocks!
(Photo: John and Jeannine Henebry)