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course report

Fun and Fear at Fenghuangshan

saline-tolerant Seashore Paspalum grass (a type popular due to the generally poor quality of water available) on its fairways, tees and roughs and silky Bermuda TifEagle grass on its greens. On our visit, the putting surfaces were running at around nine on the stimpmeter, which makes them quicker than average, while it was hard to find fault with fairway lies, with most balls sitting up high on the Paspalum. Only time will tell if the club can maintain these kind of playing surfaces.

Course with a view (l-r): the 10th is the highest point at FHS; lychee trees flank many of the holes on the back nine.

Caddies

Most of Fenghuangshan’s caddies, who are all female, hail from the central western provinces of Sichuan and Hunan – and the majority are very new to the game, although they’ve clearly been well trained. Understandably, Mandarin is their language of choice, but most have a decent grasp of Cantonese. English speakers, however, might struggle to communicate at times, but their enthusiasm in congratulating good shots (and their thoughtfulness commiserating bad

This memorable course, one of the newest in the Shenzhen region, offers an intriguing blend of the sublime and the ridiculous BY THE EDITORS Background

Fenguangshan, also known as Phoenix Hill, opened its full 18 holes in January 2008. Developed in harness with the local government by a mainland owner, the club is not really a ‘club’ in the proper sense of the word – they’re not planning on issuing memberships any time soon, meaning this track is open for all, seven days a week. Fenghuangshan Golf Club (Phoenix Hill) Yardage: 6,806. Par: 72 Xiangxin Road West, Yantian District, Fenghuangshan Town, Dongguan Tel: (86) 0 769-87280988 Website: fhsgolf.net Green Fee: HK$600-940 Booking: Golf 007 (golf007.com; 21873146)

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Course

Cripes, where to start? It’s fair to say that Fenghuangshan is one of those courses that will be loved and loathed in equal measure. Let’s start with the pros: laid out over spectacular mountainous terrain, 40 minutes from the Hong Kong-Mainland border in Dongguan prefecture, the course

winds its way around a series of disused mines – the open-cast remnants of which form many of the hazards here – and features some quite brilliant holes, especially late on the back-nine. The cons: there are at least four holes that beggar belief. While the course is home to some of the most exciting and well-thought out golf holes in the area, it stumbles in parts purely because of the owner’s wish to make this a par-72 layout. When will owners realize that having a par-71 or par-70 - even a par-69 - course in China is no disgrace? Clearly not here, because in an attempt to maximize use of his plot of land, the owner, who is also the designer, has squeezed in a ridiculous dogleg-right par-5 (the 570-yard fourth), which can only be negotiated with an iron off the tee due to the ravine that bisects www.hkga.com

the fairway at around 220-yards off the tee. The 15-yard landing area at the tiny, yet scenic par-4 second is another cause for concern (it’s an automatic reload if you miss it by a foot), as are at least two other holes. But despite this, Fenghuangshan pretty much works. The views of the surrounding town (and accompanying industrial sprawl) is certainly impressive from the 10th tee – the course’s highest point – and the splendid Lychee trees that form the backdrop on a number of approach shots add a certain maturity that belies the layout’s age.

Conditions

Ver y good indeed. Like ma ny of t he newer courses in the immediate region, Fenghuangshan uses a combination of the hardy www.hkga.com

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results

for completion in the first half of this year, but that is looking far from likely. In the meantime, visitors will have to make do with an austere locker room (think British boarding schoolstyle circa 1970), a poorly-stocked pro shop and a simple restaurant on the second floor. A slightly better equipped conference area, capable of sitting up to 80 people, makes it possible for societies to host tournament days here.

Monthly medal winner Donald Nimmo

December Stableford 18 December Division 1 Winner: Diana Ting (35) Division 1 Runner-Up: Pamela Hwang (33) Division 2 Winner: Mirenda Lok (36) Division 2 Runner-Up: Liz Ho (34)

Service

No major complaints. Check-in was a formality and the staff was friendly and helpful. We were able to tee off on time – and, more importantly, our fourball, thanks to a vigilant team of on-course marshals, was able to get round in four hours. Given that we visited on a Saturday this was something of a result. Kudos!

Chris Fry Trophy 2008 Winner: Runner-Up:

ones) makes them a nice bunch to be around. You should listen to them, too. Don’t be surprised by some of the club selections off the tee – it’s that kind of course.

Clubhouse

Risky business (from top): elevation changes at FHS; the short par-four second wraps its way around a old mine.

Although describing the current nondescript two-storey clubhouse as a flophouse is probably something of a disservice, there’s no doubt the facilities at Fenghuangshan are spartan and decidedly minimal. There’s a reason for this: it’s only a temporary structure, although when the club will complete its main clubhouse, a massive edifice commanding excellent views of the surrounding area, is uncertain. It was due

Felicia Louey KR Shin

Men’s Section

Founder’s Cup 13-14 December Scratch Winner: Jackson Chu (174) Nett Winner: Stuart Gethin (142) Captain’s Cup 20 December Gross Winner: Sihao Yan (80) Gross Runner-Up: Peter Sun (82) Nett Winner: James Fung (70) Nett Runner-Up: M Desombre (71 C/B)

Verdict

Despite a few obv iou s design f laws, Fenghuangshan is very close to being one of the region’s must-plays. Views aside, the uniqueness of the site makes for some truly exceptional holes and a memorable playing experience. But it could be so much more. If the owner is willing to splash the cash and employ the services of a noted architect to redesign some of the more ridiculous holes out here then he would have something very special indeed. It will also be interesting to see whether the course conditions remain the same once the club opens its rather grandioselooking clubhouse. We sincerely hope that money will continue to be spent on the course, rather than on extravagant luxuries off it. There are too many clubs in Guangdong that have suffered once the course becomes second priority.

Christmas Scramble 10 December Winners: Sunny Kang, Lily Lau, Callie Botsford, Eileen Booth (55) Runners Up: Haj Wilcox, Elsa Chao, Liz Amez Droz, Nakako Honda (57 C/B)

Around the Clubs

Chairman’s Cup 20 December Winner: Bruce Kong (40) Runner-Up: Peter Kwan (38 C/B)

The Hong Kong Golf Club HKGC vs Royal Bangkok 13 December HKGC: 24½ Points Royal Bangkok: 7 Points *Played over the Eden Course Arthur Woo Trophy 14 December S Limbu won the Arthur Woo Trophy played over the New Course with 37 points. J K Ball was the runner-up with 35 points. Monthly Medal – Gross Section 3 January D C Nimmo won the Monthly Medal Gross Section played over the Old Course with 72. Monthly Medal – Nett Section 3 January H M V de Lacy Staunton won the Monthly Medal Nett Section played over the Old Course with 69. Sir David Trench Cup Final 4 January S Chatjaval won the Sir David Trench Cup Final played over the New Course with 36 points. M Sullivan was the runner-up with 35 points. HKGC vs Discovery Bay Golf Club 4 January HKGC : 13 points DBGC : 11 points * Played at Discovery Bay Golf Club

Discovery Bay Golf Club Chairman’s Cup 6-7 December Winner: BR Kim (141 C/B) Runner-Up: JS Park (141) Best Gross: Matajiro Nagatomi (149) The KS Hyun Mixed Greensome Cup 2008 20 December Winners: KC Liu & Phoebe Liu (63) Runners-Up: BR Kim & JR Kim (66) Best Gross: Stuart Winchester & Rungnapa Winchester (73) Christmas 3 Clubs Stableford 21 December Ladies Division Winner: Yasuyo Nagatomi (37) Runner-Up: Cally Ying (31) Best Gross: Rungnapa Winchester (23) Men’s Division Winner: Runner-Up: Best Gross:

BR Kim (33 C/B) John Seto (33) Matajiro Nagatomi (28)

Matajiro Nagatomi won Best Gross at DBGC's Chairman's Cup

Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club Ladies Section

Ladies Golf Championship 3 December Winner: Anita Chu Runner Up: Haj Wilcox Division 2 Winner: Takako To Division 2 Runner Up: Kanako Tanaka December Medal 3 December Division 1 Gross Winner: Oshima Kok (82) Division 1 Nett Winner: Lydia Mak (71) Division 2 Gross Winner: Peggy Wong (101) Division 2 Nett Winner: Liz Amez Droz (75) 58

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0901Fenghuangshan