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Mission Hills Resort Haikou (Blackstone)
Haikou, Hainan Island, China
Designer: Brian Curley
One of Asia's foremost tournament tracks is the centerpiece of the new Mission Hills complex in southern China that has 10 courses and counting. Amid the surplus of new layouts, there's no chance of this beautiful brute getting lost in the crowd. Following a host of celebrity designers who were enlisted to help out at the first mammoth Mission Hills site, located in Shenzhen on the mainland, Chinese golf patriarch Dr. David Chu let Curley go it alone on Hainan, and he went on to carve out a relentless lineup of heavily bunkered holes draped on black volcanic rock, a striking if unplayable hazard that frames many fairways. At 7,808 yards and par-73, the aptly named Blackstone should prove a worthy venue when the Molinari brothers defend their 2009 title at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in November.
Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort
Cape Kaliakra, Bulgaria
Designer: Gary Player
Big-time golf in Bulgaria? Believe it. Player is the first to make inroads in this former Communist-bloc stronghold with a pair of designs along the western coast of the Black Sea. Most compelling is Thracian Cliffs, codeveloped by Krassimir Guergov, a media mogul, founder of the Bulgarian Golf Association and an associate member of the R&A. Bulgaria attracted 8.9 million visitors in 2008, predominantly Germans, Greeks and Romanians, and championship golf is now among the enticements. Said Player of Thracian Cliffs at its June opening, "I've seen a lot and can say that there is no course like Thracian Cliffs anywhere in the world." The rocky coastline indeed forms a stunning backdrop for golf, notably at the par-3 6th, the tee of which is perched 44 yards above the green with a full frontal panorama of the Black Sea beyond.
Yas Island, Abu Dhabi