The Blackstone course at Mission Hills on China´s Hainan Island is just one of 10 courses in the Mission Hills complex.
Built on the black lava rocks the course is an absolute brute. At 7808 yards from the championship tees, length is definitely a big player here if you want to score well.
Constructed on a 350-acre site, the course weaves its way through mature trees, jungle vegetation and natural wetlands to create what can only be described as a course designed for the natural terrain.
Brian Curley, of Schmidt & Curley design was the designer and has crafted a true test of golfing ability.
The challenge that the courses possesses was never in doubt with the 2011 World Cup being allocated to the course before construction was even completed.
Perhaps surprisingly for a tournament golf course, there is no rough, instead the design team wanted to create a soft, natural looking golf course with few sharp lines. Instead they have opted for bunkers that blend perfectly in to the lava rock and fairways that have been designed with surface drainage at the forefront.
This results in rolling fairways that follow the natural humps and bumps of the terrain.
Add to this natural landscape the lava rock outcrops that call for long carries, the contrast between the whites, blacks and greens and Curley has designed a world class golf course.
From as early as the 2nd hole it is evident the care taken to ensure the course followed the natural terrain. A true 3 shot par 5 that doglegs twice, putting a premium on accuracy and careful planning to leave a short iron approach to the green.
The 518-yard par 4, 4th is probably the most difficult hole on the course. A long carry over a deep ravine is just the beginning, successfully clear the ravine and your ball will have to find the fairway which is protected left by bunkers and a steep slope to the right that will leave a blind approach. A par is always a welcome score on this hole.
Of the par 3s the 11th must be the most challenging. 227 yards the hole requires a well struck tee shot to avoid the enormous bunker left. Bail out right and getting up and down is no easy task.
The 681-yard par 5 14th is a brute. A solitary bunker protects the hole, favour the left side to avoid the only other obstacle, a tree some 120 yards short of the green to the right centre of the fairway. The lack of obstacles does not make this hole any easier and a par is a great score.
Also worth a mention is the last, a par 5 that is reachable, if the drive carries the marshland and lava rocks. The green sits perilously close to the water´s edge, adding to the danger of the hole. The smart play is left of the green where the lie of the land can guide the ball onto the putting surface.