Golf Courses in Mission Hills Golf Resort, Shenzhen
Course-by-Course Introduction to Mission Hills Shenzhen, China
This is the world’s largest golf course with 180 holes! It is located in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province.
Founded in 1994 and just at the border with Hong Kong, Mission Hills is the World’s No. 1 Golf Club as accredited by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2004. It is an exclusivey gated residential complex housing a five-star hotel, resort and country club with the largest tennis facilities in Asia as well.
The 180-hole course is actually represented by 10-signature golf courses. It is also the home base of China’s David Leadbetter Golf Academy. The Mission Hills complex is one of the top 10 sights in Shenzhen and is nationally recognized as one of the top-rated tourism resorts. Shenzhen’s BaoAn International Airport is a mere 40-minute drive to the golf club.
Apart from being a five star resort it offers an all-year-round playing golf green condition, 228 luxurious rooms, 50 tennis courts with three different types of surfaces. This fantastic resort attracts visitors from around the world. With an area of 20 square kilometers, it would take two days to complete one circle of this huge complex. Free shuttle buses are offered by Mission Hills connecting Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Kowloon. It is available every 30 minutes when on schedule.
According to Executive Director Tenniel Chu in a recent interview with STARGOLF of The Star Daily of Malaysia, not only does operation “..doing better than expected” and therefore presumably amply allows for expansion, the number ’12’ also rhymes with the Chinese Zodiac which has 12 animals representing it. There seems something running parallel here if you have read about the fervent search by a new and much more self-confident China to recover the 12 bronze animal heads of the famous Yuan Ming Yuan plundered by foreigners towards the end of the Qing Dynasty. Well, it may not be exactly the same feat in completing twelve golf courses to match the same number of auspicious animal representations but it sure augurs well, not least with help from “..the golf world’s best-known architect” Pete Dye and China’s prodigal son of golf, Zhang Lian Wei, who will have the last course named after him in honour of his contribution to golf in China. Well, one should have no doubt there’s not a mission in Mission Hills that’s a mission impossible! – Feb. 2008
Norman Course – 10 years after the first ever tee-off in Mission Hills, Greg Norman added the 10th. course to this huge complex of golf. This 18-hole Par-72 7,214-yard course has been, in a brush stroke, described as ‘reflecting the perfect combination of golf course style and nature’. Whatever that means and whichever type of visitors it was meant to entice in the promo material, it sure seems short of descriptive than what the technicals would ruthlessly reveal. At a slope rating of over 140 against the top of the scale of 155 (The US average of a difficult course is only 113; slope rating is the measured degree of difficulty for mid- to high-handicappers – alas, it surely includes the writer!), it’s no wonder ‘..here, mercy is a commodity in short supply for the errant..’, laments a golf course critic. I guess that speaks all for what could be expected playing this course.
In fact you could get a feel of the course by just having a glance at an empty scorecard. Both Par-4s of Hole#12 and Hole#17 are over 480 yards and the Par-5 Hole#14 is 644 yards long. And that’s not all; some tee shots demand a carry over of about 260 yards! Any room for error? Don’t bother finding out, it certainly won’t be there in the gnarly fescue (Festuca plant commonly used as rough in golf courses of the US and Canada) lining the fairways. Noticed the stylised picture of a large crater-bunkering on the glossy hand-outs? It wasn’t there only to beautify, it actually exists somewhere on the course and, it has company of its kind there as well!
Perhaps Signature Hole#4 is something to cheer about. It is comfortably short at 147-yard and there are no bunkers here to guard the green! But the accompanying photo of the hole will quickly and surely make you save the cheers. This Par-3 has the tee box at 4 o’clock in the pic. The silky green is fast; landing anywhere from 12 to 3 o’clock right of it will end in thick bush of a certain no retrieve and anywhere beyond the front edge is equally suicidal as the lake awaits patiently down below.
Leadbetter Course – Apart from the meticulously manicured landscape and aesthetic ground covers, the Leadbetter Course demands accurate approach shots to large but undulating greens. Additionally large sand bunkers litter the fairways and protect the greens as well while elevated tee boxes are strategically placed to raise the degree of difficulty. But otherwise, the course is eminently playable by golfers of all levels. The catch is or the ulterior good intention in the design of Mr. Leadbetter (The mother of all golf teachers?) one suspects is, at the end of the day, all the clubs in the bag will have to have been used. So, before you head to this course to scalp your buddies for Hole#19, learn the correct swing technique first. (But where can I find a good school?)!
Signature Hole is the Par-3 183-yard Hole#16 which tees-off over a ravine to an island green sandwiched between creeks from the ravine. Apart from being a testing ground, this scenic hole also offers great photo opportunity (view pic).
The Par-4 395-yard Signature Hole, aptly numbered 13, has a deep valley lined with bunkers awaiting the tee-shot. For those lucky enough there’s some space to the right but with poor angle for the second landing. Big hitters could always try to carry over and save the day.
Olazabal Course – The course is a majestic vista of the original flora and fauna, and streams of clear water crossing paths with the paspallum-covered fairways giving rise to a spectacular backdrop for a championship course. Finger-shaped sand pits with deep bowl-bottoms and thick grassy vertical lips characterise the course.
Following the reservoir and curving right on the Par-5 580-yard Signature Hole#15, a plethora of Olazabal’s ‘bowl-bottoms’ greet an unsuspecting visitor. Strategically, a conservative play, meaning accurate placements and landing with the 3rd., will yield good scores here; otherwise attack only, meaning attempting the green in two taking full advantage of the steep slope on the right to bounce the ball back to the fairway, if you are willing to risk paying the price!
Vijay Course – Vijay Singh incorporates much of what makes Pebble Beach special and the result is a spectacular golf course that ranks well at the top in many aspects in Asia at least. The main feature is the strikingly visual sand bunker stretching a long 45 meters with the sand running right down and meeting the water (For another golf course with a similar type of sand-and-water bunker, visit Dam Vac Golf & Country Club of Hanoi in Vietnam).
The Signature Hole is the Par-4 432-yard Hole#2 where the water edge follows on the left and leans to the right side near to the end of a normal tee-shot leaving either water or fairway on the far right for a dry landing. The choice is obvious. Play safe and land the tee-shot there will earn a poor angle and longer distance for the second landing shot. Brave the water edge will ensure a good angled-shot to the green even if the pot bunker just in front of the green is ever so threatening.
Faldo Course – A gem in Nick Faldo’s treasure pouch of golf courses he designs, the Faldo Course reputedly has ‘every hole highly strategic and yet suitably playable’. The course, openned in 1999 to critical acclaim, has been widely received as a product of using his outstanding shot-making skills as a basis for the design. The Par-3 163-yard Hole#16 is the Signature Hole with the elevated tee overlooking an island green. Many view it as one of Asia’s best Par-3.