Home' Australian Golf Digest : June 2017 Contents june 2017 | australiangolfdigest.com.au 99
presents far less tree cover. There is a
sense of expanse that creates a ‘big’ look
while the black rocks and sand dominate
the landscape like no other course in the
world. At 6,767 metres, it too is capable of
hosting significant events.
6MEADOW LINKS: Based upon the
traditional US Open courses of the
eastern United States, this layout
features lay-of-the land sensibilities
and somewhat geometric shapes in both
bunkering and fairway lines. Distinctive
features, such as the fabled ‘Church Pew’
bunkers, make for a unique look where
grass-faced bunkers and native grasses
give the course an open meadow feel
with occasional clusters of trees. The
large greens make putting difficult.
7STONE QUARRY: This course
showcases all the wild-ride features
associated with Pete Dye’s designs.
Railroad-tie sleepers, abrupt mounds
and moguls, long sandy waste bunkers,
devilish and sometimes small greens
plus railroad car bridges all create a
distinct look and playing experience.
These features prove all the more
dramatic as the course snakes through
ancient volcanic quarries supported by
steep rock walls and timbers.
8DOUBLE PIN: This collection of 18
par 3s incorporates a unique and
distinct feature: two pins on each
green. The flags are designed to offer t wo
options: one easier and more assessable
hole location and one more difficult. An
arboretum-style landscape provides an
enjoyable atmosphere full of colourful
trees and flowers, complementing
the blue skies and clean air of Haikou.
Players of all skill levels will be able
to handle Double Pin, while everyone
from families and beginners through
to tour pros will find a quick round to
complement their day’s play or practice.
9THEPRESERVE: With a strong
emphasis on beautiful landscaping
based upon a backbone of dense
palm plantings, this user-friendly
course plays off a more modern design.
Sculpted bunkering punctuates wide
fairways leading to green complexes
where perimeter mounding feeds balls
onto the putting surfaces with modern
conviction. Vivid landscaping with an
abundance of flowering shrubs and
ground covers are the dominant images
on this course, while palm trees add a
welcome relief from the sun.
10SHADOW DUNES: Bringing sand
to the city, this course offers a
unique environment of towering
sand dunes and native vegetation found
along the vast beaches of Hainan Island.
This course features large undulating
contours that feed into some of the
largest greens at the resort. These wild
surfaces will leave monstrous putts at
times. Not a course to be over-powered
by prodigious length; short game
and pinpoint accuracy are the more
desirable traits across the 6,035-metre,
Each of the Mission Hills Haikou courses has a
different look and feel – and a different story.
unsuccessful farming land is now one of the
premier golf resorts in the world.
The greens on all 10 courses are paspalum, a
grass I enjoy more and more every time I play
on it. In a high-traffic, tropical environment
these lush surfaces stay hardy and play truly.
The green sizes don’t vary much except for
the Lilliputian putting surfaces of the pitch-
and-putt Stepping Stone course and the
gargantuan greens of Shadow Dunes, which
average more than 1,000 square metres each.
The bunkering is a feature throughout without
being overdone. Stepping Stone features the
fewest with 43 while Stone Quarry owns the
most sand with 215.
The mark for the speediest tour of playing all
10 courses is two days, which is an exceptional
feat. Somewhat surprisingly, the record for
haste is not held by the super-fit Dr Chu.
“Nobody likes to play golf with me, because
I find the sport too slow,” Mission Hills’
chairman quipped to Australian Golf
Digest. “What I do is I play speed golf. So I
don’t talk with you when we play, because I
just want to sprint and I just want to run and
get a full workout out of it. My fastest round is
45 minutes (on the Vijay course, in Shenzhen).”
Still, 10 courses in 48 hours is a frenetic
pace and one too swift to allow for the
individual charm of each course to sink in.
Yet it does beg the question of such a vast golf
complex: do you need to play all 180 holes?
You may, of course, but a four, five or six-
course golf ‘degustation’ will still give first-
timers a taste of Mission Hills Haikou – and
leave something to thirst for next time.
What Mission Hills Haikou gives you is a
magnificent snapshot of a different side of
China, a cleaner, tropical, less frantic view
of the world’s most populous nation. It’s an
expansive resort and the entire complex
is growing at a speed reflective of modern
China, although the sense you’re in a singular
part of the country is palpable. And the golf
on offer is first-class, perhaps bordering on
daunting when you consider the menu –
much like when a waiter places an enormous
meal in front of you and for a moment you
contemplate whether you have the patience
and stomach to finish it. Indeed, the only time
I encountered any feeling of disappointment
The par-4 third hole at Lava Fields
asks for both shot shapes.
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