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GOLF GUIDE


making the trip. To the traveller who just wants to play in an incredible location, it’s hard to go wrong with any course in the more remote regions of China. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf


Course in Yunnan is a par 72 facing the mountain from which it got its name. It’s also the second-highest in the world at 10,170ſt above sea level, the longest par 72 and its fiſth hole — par five, 711 yards — is the longest par five on the planet. This is a course that manages to set records while also being a true natural, woodland, beauty. But as easy as it is on the eye, it’s not so easy on the scorecard — the shortest par four is 436 yards. Don’t expect to beat your handicap, but you won’t care too much, not with the view of the snow-topped Jade Dragon Snow Mountain to ease your woes. Completing a trio of picture-postcard


courses is Stoneforest International Golf Club, also in Yunnan. The name gives it away: this three championship course destination is set within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with each course meandering its way through the karst peaks, giving it a truly stone-age feel. Amid wildly varied rock formations, there’s no place quite like this, you’re playing amid truly one of the world’s great natural wonders. And although you’ll no doubt need to be mindful of dangerously ricocheting golf balls, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a course as bewitching as this one.


Three top 100 courses Naturally, bucket-list golfers oſten start their list of courses with Golf Digest’s top 100, and considering China’s comparative infancy in the market, three entrants in this US and UK-dominated listing is impressive. A regular on the listing — and currently


placed 86 — is Shanghai’s Sheshan Golf Club. Perhaps one of China’s most well-known


“You’re playing


amid truly one of the world’s great natural wonders”


courses due to it hosting — for all but one year when Mission Hills hosted it, more of whom later — the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament since 2005. The prize fund is just shy of $10m (£7.62m), which gives you some idea of the calibre of the course itself. Globally renowned architects Nelson & Haworth are the masterminds behind the 18 holes and they’ve gone about their work with aplomb, creating a course that’s been voted China’s


best and has hosted the likes of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson. Yunnan, specifically Kunming, provides


another entrant with the lakeside Robert Trent Jones Jr-designed Spring City Golf and Lake Resort coming in at 75. Hugging the shoreline of the Yangzonghai Lake, the 7,2004-yard, par-72 Lake Course is challenging with tight, narrow fairways. Given that the resort’s other course, the Mountain, is designed by Jack Nicklaus, it’s a golfing nirvana and the golf lodges and villas offer perfect overnight luxury. Ranking far above these two stalwarts


of the Chinese golf scene — both of whom simultaneously claim to be the nation’s best — is a comparative newcomer, Shanqin Bay Golf Club on Bao’ao, Hainan Island, off the south coast, near Guangdong. The tropical island location is only one tick-in- the-box of many. It overlooks the South China Sea, has a sandy beach alongside and is the work of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, whose work includes Tasmania’s Lost Farm at Barnbougle — elements of which you can find delicately echoed in Shanqin Bay. There’s the roughest of rough terrain, wind- swept fairways abound and ridge-top greens that you’ll need to be careful not to miss, it’s a coastal course that’s almost as challenging to play as it was to build on this mountainous landscape. The only thing harder in fact is geting a tee time — it’s super exclusive (a


Mission Hills


170


ABTA Golf 2018


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