Features

Golfing around... Southern China

26 Jan 2005 by business traveller

It was 21 years ago that Chung Shan Hot Spring Golf Club opened its doors for business, marking the reintroduction of the royal and ancient game to mainland China. Ten years later, in 1994, the first course at Mission Hills Golf Club, now the world's largest golf establishment, was unveiled. At that time, Guangdong Province was home to less than 20 courses. Now that number has more than quadrupled, and Mission Hills alone has 10 courses.

It's not just the quantity that's impressive, but the quality too. The courses have been designed by a who's who of famous names (see below), attracting Chinese and expatriates alike. There are also signs that China is beginning to embrace the concept of golf tourism. Until now, golfing tourists have been predominantly lured by the desire to experience a truly different destination. Now, though, they are coming because of the world-class facilities on offer.
Report by Spencer Robinson

CHUNG SHAN HOT SPRING GOLF CLUB

Where is it? About 20km south of Chung Shan City in the Sanxiang District of Guangdong Province. The club is on the road from Zhuhai to Macau.
What's it like? As the first modern-day golfing establishment in the People's Republic, Chung Shan Hot Spring holds a special place in China's golf history. It is also the only club in China that boasts courses designed by both Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Opened in 1984, the parkland-style Palmer Course staged the 1988 Alfred Dunhill Cup Asia-Pacific qualifier. A second 18-hole layout, bearing Nicklaus' signature design, opened in 1993.
Club address: Sanxiang Commune, Zhongshan City, Guangdong Province, China.
Contact: tel 86 760 669 0055, email [email protected], www.cshsgc.com.cn
Green fees: Weekdays US$71; weekends and Hong Kong public holidays (as a member's guest) US$85. Caddie fees US$23/18 (two classes of caddie). Buggy
fees US$28.
Can I rent clubs? Yes. Golf clubs at US$15. Shoe rental at US$6.
Club hours: Open year-round. Daily times dependent on daylight. Booking department will suggest tee times.
Minimum required handicap: No handicap certificate required for visitors.
Facilities: Two 18-hole courses: Palmer Course 5,929 metres, par-71; Nicklaus Course 6,396 metres, par-72. As well as three practice holes, there's a driving range and pro-shop. After your round, try the hot spring pool, steam sauna and spa bath, then visit the recently constructed massage area.
After golf: The 9,485sqm Spanish hacienda-style clubhouse has a banquet area serving Western and Asian cuisine. Other facilities include tennis courts, swimming pool, meeting room and multi-function room. Rooms available at the adjoining Chung Shan Hot Spring Resort.

ZHUHAI GOLDEN GULF GOLF CLUB

Where is it? 30km west of Gongbei Customs and Jiuzhou Port, the border which separates Macau and Zhuhai.
What's it like? Designed by Colin Montgomerie, the club opened in November 2002. Constructed on reclaimed fish farms on the edge of the South China Sea, the site has been transformed into a links-style course featuring generous fairways. The land is exposed and strong winds often pose a challenge. Montgomerie describes the layout as a ?modified links course that captures much of the essence of great links play, but which also provides for the needs of the overall project and the Asian golfer?.
Club address: Jinwan Road, Golden Coast, Jinwan District, Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, China.
Contact: tel 86 756 763 1888, email [email protected], www.zhggg.com
Green fees: Weekdays US$41 including general fee; weekends US$87 including general fee. Golf cart fee US$31.
Can I rent clubs? Yes. Golf clubs cost US$30 and golf shoes US$10.
Club hours: Open daily, from 0700.
Minimum required handicap: Guests are required to declare their handicap when booking is made.
Facilities: Par-72, 18-hole course, measuring 7,010 yards from the championship tees, and a nine-hole course under construction. Practice facilities include a double-ended driving range with natural turf hitting area, two putting greens, chipping area and practice bunkers. There is also a teaching academy.
After golf: There are two restaurants offering Chinese and Western food and a Scottish-style pub, plus a health centre, gym, swimming pool, multi-function room, sauna, steam rooms, spa bath, massage and karaoke rooms ? all found in the country club. Accommodation is available at the adjoining two-storey, 50-room Golfer's Lodge.

MISSION HILLS GOLF CLUB

Where is it? Straddling the economically booming cities of Shenzhen and Dongguan, Mission Hills is a 30-minute drive from the Hong Kong border. The club also has direct freeway access via the Mei Guan and Ji He Highways.
What's it like? Boasting 10 signature courses, Mission Hills is the world's largest golf establishment, even accredited by Guinness World Records. It's been named as one of the top 10 sights in Shenzhen and is a nationally recognised AAAA-rated tourism resort. Since the opening of the Jack Nicklaus World Cup Course in 1994, it has staged many major events, such as the 1995 World Cup of Golf (won by Americans Fred Couples and Davis Love), the inaugural Dynasty Cup between Asia and Japan in 2003, and the first visit to China by Tiger Woods in 2001. The first five of the courses are located in the original Guanlan Town site, while the most recent five are within the region of Dongguan.
Club address: No 1 Mission Hills Road, Guanlan Town, Shenzhen, China 518110.
Contact: tel 86 755 2802 0888, email [email protected], www.missionhillsgroup.com
Green fees: Mission Hills is a private membership club where green fees for members are complimentary and their guests enjoy a special rate. 
Can I rent clubs? Yes, clubs (US$27) and golf shoes (US$7) can be rented.
Club hours: Tuesday to Saturday, the club opens at 0530 and closes at 2358. Monday and Sunday, 0530-2230.
Minimum required handicap: Guests are required to declare their handicap when booking.
Facilities: The club's 10 courses have been designed by the biggies ? Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Jumbo Ozaki, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, David Duval, Jose-Maria Olazabal, David Leadbetter and Annika Sorenstam. A 64-bay floodlit driving range is complemented by two natural turf ranges with multi-tiered playing surfaces. The club is home to China's only David Leadbetter Golf Academy.
After golf: Mission Hills has a 315-room hotel attached to the palatial 27,600sqm clubhouse. As well as the largest pro-shop in Asia, there's a badminton hall, swimming pools, gym, and snooker tables. Imported from Sweden, the Playworld at Mission Hills Country Club is the largest outdoor play system in China. There are seven restaurants ? Chinese, Japanese and Western and a bar. Spa service is available at the nearby country club.

LONG ISLAND GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB

Where is it? At the foot of the Lotus Hill in Changan County, the club is accessible by car through the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Superhighway. It can be reached
in 35 minutes from Hong Kong's Huan Gang border.
What's it like? Opened in 1995, Long Island is home to three picturesque nine-hole layouts ? designed by JMP Golf Design Group ? which have been
skilfully carved into the valley of Lotus Hill. The club has hosted numerous amateur tournaments and also stages an annual charity event, benefiting
the local community.
Club address: Lotus Hill, Changan Town, Dongguan City, Guangdong Province, China 523846.
Contact: tel 86 769 5313 888, www.longislandgolfclub.com
Green fees: Weekdays US$30; weekends US$133. Night golfing fee (nine holes) US$22. Caddie fee US$13. Golf cart fee (for two) US$27.
Can I rent clubs? Yes. Golf clubs can be hired for US$21, and shoes for US$7.
Club hours: Open daily, from 0630-2100.
Minimum required handicap: Guests are required to be introduced by members and need to possess a minimum handicap index of 24 for men and 36 for women.
Facilities: Three nine-hole courses ? West, East and North. The championship North-East combination measures 6,847 yards from the tips. Comprehensive practice facilities include a 30-bay driving range, practice bunkers and putting green. As well as a golf school, there is also a mini nine-hole Executive Course.
After golf: There are three dining outlets on the premises ? Deluxe Chinese Restaurant, Matsuyama Japanese Restaurant and Island Café. Other facilities include rooms for playing cards, mahjong, snooker and video games, a fitness centre, tennis courts, swimming pool, children's games room and the Galaxy Theatre. Fishing is another option to consider, with fishing rods and bait box for hire. The 41-room Island Lodge Hotel is convenient for overnight stays.

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