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Every golf course is unduplicatable. The vegetation, gullies, the climate and wildlife make up the soul of the golf course. The most difficult part to build a great course is to get along with the philosophy of mother Nature. The Yulin Desert Course is a masterpiece of reverencing and embracing the Nature. For 3 years of time, the course designer Jun LU and his team worked intensively at the southern edge of Mu Us Desert with methods of restoring the original landscape, embedding 18 fairways into the desert. They used eco-friendly technologies to make a “gift from the Nature”. In 2019, the Yulin Desert Golf Course was awarded by the Golf Environmental Organization (GEO) as an example of eco-friendly course in China.

So how the golf course and desert, the human beings and the Nature could be getting along each other? What is the key to the all harmonies, technologies or arts, or even wisdom? Where does water for irrigation come from in the desert? Is desert short of water? Yulin Desert Golf Course gave an extraordinary answer by making use of coalmine waste. As Yulin is famous for abundance of coal resources, the golf course is surrounded by mines. There is a large amount of underground water coming out during the excavation. With highly dissolved minerals. this kind of hard water is not suitable to the normal use, but it is good enough for the irrigation of the course after being purified. The one-stone solution offers water for the golf course and reduces the environment pollution. A set of high-end water processing equipment stands beside the No.9 fairway, drawing magic by turning the waste into the useful water. The advanced pretreatment and fine filter are supplying adequate water for this land.

Lu decided to keep the existing lakes on the course even though they might be a little bit difference from the course style. There are 3 artificial lakes with a total of 48,000 square meters and a storage capacity of 70,000 cubic meters. Water is the essential to grass, and sufficient storage guarantees for the usage. Also, considering the coal mine maintenance, pipeline maintenance and other special circumstances, the existence of artificial lakes could undertake the precipitation of purified water and storage after processing. Water is precious in the dry northern part of Shaanxi, and Yulin has a history of 70 years for sand control that made worldwide fame for. Those two facts make the lakes on the course being the favorite scenery, and that is the symbolic view of Hole 18 with the lake mirroring the vast blue sky in the desert. The concept of water solution in balancing short-term and long-term benefits of irrigation system is like a mathematical formula to maximize the efficiency of water-saving for the course. By calculating the area of grass, the designer made precise arrangement for the spraying range of each sprinkler to avoid the omission and waste of irrigation to the greatest extent. Besides the position arrangement, the expensive angle adjustable sprinklers were chosen to make the spraying range more accurate so as to improve the water efficiency by 4 to 5 times. The advanced automatic decoder central control system of Rainbird applied in the irrigation system could perform well to supply water accurately under detailed commands as well as in full intelligent control system. The maintenance staff could control any sets of sprinklers with remote devices. Merging all the ecological thoughts in the irrigation management details, the design would make return for a long time in operation by relative higher investment at the beginning.

Waste recycling made concrete waste into intangible. Yulin was rebuilt from a western parkland style to a pure desert links. During the renovation, a problem was raise: how to deal with the 14,000 tons of concrete waste from the demolishing the drive way? More problems on waster transportation, solution and cost was sending challenges to the designer. Lu came up with a great and ecological idea again, which is to utilize the concrete waste to make for the shore of artificial lakes. Lake shore as a tiny detail though, traditionally is a vital part impacting the consistency of the course view. However, eco-friendliness and environment sustainability is also Lu’s belief as “not blindingly pursuing style but utilizing all the waste to save the environment”. Therefore, by the method of blocking building Lu’s idea was carried out. As for the driveway, it was built by local material sand to create the nature style in a links golf course after removing the concrete, which was the first sand cart path in the golf course in China. Prosper paved lake shore and natural sand path seem ordinary, but the stories behind about cost controlling, recycling, sustainability are all valuable and respectful.

Subtraction of grass in the desert course followed the latest trend of decreasing grass area in course design today. Decreasing the grass area means the saving water in irrigation, chemicals and fertilizers, as well as the maintenance budget, which is one of the important indicators of a eco-friendly course. After the renovation, the size of grass area excluding the driving range is 206,400 square meters by a decrease of 45.7% from 380,000 square meters before. The new grass area accounts 27.6% of the whole course, even lower than the 30% benchmark recommended by GEO. The area without turf were instead planted local wild vegetation such as sand willow, sea buckthorn, scoparium and caragana to recover the nature scene in the desert. After several years of recovery, the vegetation covered the sand hills perfectly, allowing various local plants flourishing, presenting colorful natural scenery along with the seasons.

Various types of bunkers are the symbol of typical links style golf course, and Lu decided to bring in the traditional sod wall bunkers. The renovation of the course left lots of turf remaining that taking good use of would not only avoid the waste but also protect the environment, becoming a highlight recognized by GEO. While the layers of turf being built up and growing healthily, people realized the meaning of the course renovation. The sod wall bunkers in the desert created a beautiful light and shadow backdrop as the drama unfolding on the fairway, also provided challenges and fun for golfers.

The wind, climate and soil conditions of Yulin are so good for the hard greens and fairways, which provides great experience for golfers to enjoy balls rolling fast as possible. The Hole 15 has a lot to show for with the design of two greens. Lu put the topography and wind into play and set up two greens. By switching the locations of original tee green, the wind. Lu made the greens face the south, a more attractive perspective also safer and better way for maintenance, thinking of the gale from the north in winter and spring. Speaking of those legendary two greens, the Green B is in the right front, with a high dune behind it. The hill of the dune is the peak of the whole course and is the location of the fortress-like Green A. Facing the wind-gap from the northwest and in a 9-meter height difference from the fairway, the Green A demands a high trajectory shot. That is the high noon time for the low handicappers. The dunes, the greens, the vegetation, the wind, integrate freely and respectfully here, in the perfect name of the Yulin Desert Golf Course.

The bunkers the reflection of traditional links Here comes the trump card of Lu, who brings the historical weapon: Sod Wall Bunkers. Among various types of bunkers, this is the most traditional one. The reconstruction of the course produced a large amount of turf remaining. Taking good use of it would not only avoid the waste and protect the environment, but make GEO very proud for finding a flagship in China eventually. Even to GEO’s amazement, Lu went further by unearthing the Sod Wall Bunker. While watching the layers of turf being built up, everybody recognized there was something historical reviving and sensed the significance of the transformation of the whole course. The sod wall bunker in the desert provided a beautiful light and shadow backdrop as the drama unfolding on the fairway, and also reminded the players that more challenging and pleasure stage was coming up. That meant the green, of course.