Did you know that more events on the 2008 PGA European Tour schedule will be held in China than Scotland and Ireland combined? Not too bad for a country that didn’t have its first modern golf course until 1984. The Middle Kingdom now boasts more than 300 layouts from a veritable “who’s who” of international design firms. Courses traverse the country from the foothills of the Himalayas to the lush jungles of Hainan Island. With construction continuing at a dizzying pace, Golfing Magazine recently took stock of the boom and ranked the Top 5 courses to open in China since 2005.
1. Mission Hills Golf Club (Pete Dye), Shenzhen – 12-course Mission Hills opened its Pete Dye Course in 2007. A collaboration between the 85-year-old master and Schmidt-Curley Design, it features traditional Dye hallmarks including devilish pot bunkers, railroad ties and tee-to-green waste areas. Set against the backdrop of Mission Hills’ third and newest clubhouse, the 611-yard par-5 18th is highlighted by a cavernous bunker reminiscent of Dye’s 16th at PGA West’s Stadium Course. A two-putt on its three-tiered putting surface is cause for celebration.
2. Jian Lake Golf & Country Club, Shaoxing – With water in play on 15 holes, Jian Lake’s par-72, 7,435-yard layout is a beautiful but stern test. Well-bunkered with rolling terrain, its signature hole is the 197-yard island green 11th.
3. Lijiang Ancient City International Lakefront Golf Course, Lijiang – Although a mouthful of a name and a bit off the beaten track, it’s well worth the trip. Offering exceptional views of Mt. Wenbi, your shots will soar in the thin air of the Himalayan plateau. Very picturesque.
4. Bayhood No. 9, Beijing – Conveniently located less than one hour from the Forbidden City, ever present wind and water serves as the 7,260-yard course’s primary defense. Ever fancy playing 18 holes and seeing the Great Wall in the same day?
5. Mission Hills Golf Club (Zhang Lian Wei), Shenzhen – Schmidt-Curley Design’s collaboration with Chinese golf legend Zhang Lian Wei is the country’s first par-3 course. Delightfully fun but far from a pushover, it features replicas of some of the world’s great golf holes including Royal Troon’s “Postage Stamp” and turtle-backed putting surfaces made famous by Donald Ross. Perfect for sharpening your iron game while learning about golf’s long and storied history.