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Why They Are Here

Updated: Feb 4, 2020

“Hot Pot is a popular meal where a multitude of raw, curious and sometimes disturbing ingredients are tossed into a boiling pot of insanely spicy oil to be fished out and consumed, endorphins firing faster than a runaway supercollider.”

Why are they here?

Golf Course Architect Steve Forrest isn’t here for the Karaoke Bars Course Shaper SC (CC Ryder) isn’t hear to study Chinese Poetry Golf Course Architect Lee Schmidt isn’t here for the “Exotic Food Offerings”

Golf Course Writer Darius Oliver isn’t here to make new friends Robert Trent Jones II Architect Mike Kahler isn’t to promote Cohen’s Lifestyle Clinics Golf Course Architect Brian Curly isn’t here to advance his music career.

Troon Management Executive David Townend is not here for the Chinese Opera Golf Course Architect Dana Fry isn’t here to add to his frequent flyer miles Project Management Executive Owen Hester isn’t here to study village culture.

Breaking Ground developer Zenta Thomas aka “the girl in black” isn’t here for the colorful fashions Cynthia Dye is not here for the warm beer Land Planner Craig Studer isn’t here for the pseudo French Cuisine.

Course Shaper DM isn’t here for the tanning opportunities.

JFO Business Director Zhouyi Obringer isn’t here to start a new career in high adventure international diplomacy and soldier of fortune style rescue (Although she should consider it).

I am most definitely not here for the Yak Cheese.

This is China. It is 2012 and while the rest of the world’s economy makes up its mind as to which direction it is going, this fireworks finale of enterprise, at least from a street view, shows no sign of abatement.

China has discovered golf and golf designers have discovered China. With this migration of designers to the Far East comes a riotous calamity of expat camp followers, entrepreneurs, old hands, and adventurers. New and old stories abound and the well of funny, interesting, touching, appalling, and sometimes frightening tales seems bottomless. A lot of them are probably true.

Who are these people? They are just a few of the players on the world’s current center stage in golf development.

The column is about those people and the stories that keep them coming back; and in the telling, relatively sane. It is also about the designing and building State of Art golf in an environment so “foreign” to the concept that it is a gross inaccuracy to use the term. Thinking of a better way to phrase it, “interplanetary” comes to mind. The offerings here are about coping. They are about extraordinary moments of vision, intermingled with mind boggling red tape, maddening cultural complexities, and always, always the regular often madcap disorienting experiences that leave participants wondering, “What the hell just happened? “ And then, despite very unlikely odds, the eventual emergence of beautiful golf tapestries.

I do a lot of head shaking these days. Coming from a small town in Northeastern USA I am bewildered as to what forces conspired to place me here. My background could not be more ill-suited to the task. A lousy golfer at age 12 beating it around terrible public mom and pop operations of the day, my interest in golf waned the closer I got to the golden ticket, i.e., a driver’s license. Was it the prospect of a bevy of the hottest high school girls in awe of my coolness and glorious feats of sports prowess, arriving at the party and tumbling sexily out of my AMC Gremlin (XL Model mind you) to the palpable envy of friends and onlookers? Yes.

Somehow here I am, thirty-some years chasing a little white ball, a player in some acts, audience in others, a little dazed yet irresistibly compelled to rescue and tell some of these exceptional stories that are roaring by daily on this unbridled torrent of Asian life.

In addition to writing these missives as a companion piece for show creator Zenta Thomas’, “Breaking Ground”, Sam Sakocius of Project Control International is a golf development executive, entrepreneur, adventurer, lecturer, author, and full time resident of China.

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