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golf in china

Putting it on the Map These six courses – from the North, South, East and West of the country – have helped elevate China to the verge of golfing superpower status BY THE EDITORS

Sheshan Golf Club

Shanghai Best known for hosting the region’s richest tournament, the US$5.5 million HSBC Champions, Sheshan stands apart from most courses in Shanghai thanks to its rolling topography and excellent strategic design. The flagship course of Singapore-based architects Nelson & Haworth, who also designed the East Course at Kau Sai Chau, Sheshan’s elevated and undulating greens and imaginative bunkering have made it a firm favourite among European and Asian Tour pros. The club is also home to one of the best short par-4s in Asia: the 310-yard 16th, which can be reached in one with a drive over a 150-ft deep quarry. Such is Sheshan’s exclusivity however, it’s just a shame that so few will ever get the chance to try. Yardage: 7,143. 72.Kau Architect: Nelson & Haworth On-site at the East Par: Course, Sai Chau 50


Spring City Golf & Lake Resort, Mountain Course

Kunming, Yunnan Golf in China simply doesn’t get any better. Unlike the neighbouring Lake Course, a Trent Jones Jr-designed layout featuring exciting elevation change, at this mile-high resort, Nicklaus’s Mountain Course rises gently through towering glades and uses the natural terrain to its fullest. Exceptional fairway movement and well bunkered green complexes keep experienced golfers on their toes, and while many of the design elements will be lost on novice golfers, HKGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM

Pinehurst to become the world’s biggest in 2004 on completion of the Greg Norman-designed Norman Course, boosting the number of holes at this mega resort to 180. Although another two layouts have since been added (the par-3 Zhang Course and the members’ only Pete Dye Course), the Norman, situated at the club’s Dongguan site, remains by far the strongest test – and arguably its most scenic; the exposed front nine runs along a hillside, while the jaw-droppingly beautiful but much tighter back nine winds its way through two densely wooded valleys. Thick fescue flanks the fairways, and the bunkers are some of the deepest east of the British Isles. It is in the words of one member, the kind of place where God and the devil would square off with the destiny of the world at stake. (In case you’re wondering, God holes a 15-footer for par at the last for a 1-up victory). Yardage: 7,228. Par: 72. Architect: Greg Norman

Terrific Trio (clockwise from left): Sheshan provides a compelling finish to Asia's richest golf tournament, here at the 17th; the Norman Course at Mission Hills, arguably the toughest track on the mainland; golf doesn't get much better than the Mountain Course at Spring City.

everyone will just love the playing surfaces. Kunming’s mild climate and the club’s legions of greenkeeping staff keep both courses, which are carpeted in a silky smooth strain of bent grass, in almost tour quality conditioning year-round. Yardage: 7,453 Par: 72. Architect: Jack Nicklaus

Mission Hills Golf Club, Norman Course

Shenzhen, Guangdong HK Golfer readers need no introduction to Mission Hills. The brainchild of Dr David Chu, a one-time paper tycoon, the club surpassed venerable HKGOLFERMAGAZINE.COM



Yalong Bay Golf Club

Tiger Beach Golf Links

Qingdao, Shandong While 99.9 percent of golf course owners in China want their courses to look like Augusta National (although very few actually succeed), Beta Soong, a Taiwanese entrepreneur who made his fortune in electronics, took his inspiration from the classic links of the British Isles when designing Tiger Beach – and thank goodness he did. This is by far and away the most unique course in mainland China – and the total antithesis to the overwhelming majority of American-style courses in the Middle Kingdom. Featuring man-made dunes, seemingly inescapable pot bunkers, anklehigh fescue (which would grow to knee-height were it not for a herd of goats that are allowed to roam the course) and strong coastal winds that buffet players from all quarters, Tiger Beach is golfing nirvana for aficionados of the original form of the game. Yardage: 7,222. Par: 72. Architect: Beta Soong

Sanya, Hainan Tropical Hainan, scarcely an hour’s flying time from Hong Kong, has long been touted as China’s answer to Hawaii – but only now is it starting to emulate the latter when it comes to golf. While course construction on the island is rampant, with an estimated 30 layouts expected to come online within the next five years, Yalong Bay, one of Hainan’s oldest courses, remains one of the most enjoyable. Situated in the upmarket tourist resort of the same name, the palm-fringed course is within walking distance of a slew of beach-fronted five-star hotels and features an excellent mix of holes in first-rate condition. No surprise then that the course has been chosen to host a number of European and Asian Tour events since opening in 2000. Yardage: 7,189. Par: 72. Architect: Robert Trent Jones Jr

Luxe Hills Golf & Country Club

Chengdu, Sichuan Western China has been relatively slow to pick up the game, but this ultra-swish golf and residential complex, a 15-minute drive from the centre of Chengdu, has put it well and truly on the radar. Although it’s impossible to miss the expensive real estate that frames many of the holes here, Hollinger has produced a rollicking track from an unhelpful site that will keep the city’s nouveau riche happy for decades to come. Exceptional bunkering and ornamental water features are the main hazards to avoid, while putting on the course’s well-thought out greens is a joy. Although a private club, tee-times are available to visitors who stay on-site. Yardage: 7,335. Par: 72. Architect: JMP (Mark Hollinger)

Chalk and cheese: Different though they may be, the windswept links at Tiger Beach (above) and the pristine layout at Luxe Hills provide two rollicking golfing experiences. 52




golf in china Sheshan Golf Club BY THE EDITORS Shenzhen, Guangdong HK Golfer readers need no introduction to Mission Hills. The brainchild o...