Golf in China

Whilst there are claims that the game was invented by the Chinese in the tenth century, during the Cultural Revolution, Golf was banned in China for being associated to British colonialism and decadent bourgeoisie. After 1984, however, several courses have popped up around the country. Nowadays there are about 500 golf clubs in China.
Mission Hills is one of the leading firms, owning courses around the country. China has the world’s biggest golf club at Mission Hills, perched high on the Hong Kong border. This 216-hole super club has twelve courses, all of which have been designed by world-renowned architects from every continent. But the best golf courses in the Mission Hills portfolio are actually located on Hainan Island, where each one of them has been designed by the Schmidt-Curley Design team.

Mission Hills Haikou, Hainan, China

Mission Hills Haikou, Hainan, China. Photo by David Schroeter via Flickr

Generally, handicap cards are not required to play on courses in mainland China, however they are required within Macau and Hong Kong. As the courses are fairly busy, the main requirement is to keep up the speed of play. Don’t be surprised to be tailed by a marshal if you don’t.

Green fees and memberships in China are often expensive relative to developed nations. Average green fees for non-members are usually at least $100 USD, and often far more expensive. For example, at the Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club, home to the BMW Asian Open on the European Tour, the initiation fee $170,000 with $1,800 a year dues. Condos sell for $22 million. The green fee for guest golfers is $125 plus caddie on weekdays, and $180 plus caddie on weekends. At that particular club, however, out of the 700 members, 300 are from overseas. At Shanghai’s Sheshan International Golf Club where such tournaments as the HSBC Champions is played, the initiation fee is $230,000.

Hong Kong – The Hong Kong Jockey Club has two 18 hole courses on the island of Kau Sai Chau. The North Course is walking only, and harder than the South Course. A third course on the East of the island is due to open in 2007. The 101M minibus from Hang Hau MTR station terminates at the ferry pier at Sai Kung, from which the ferry departs every 20 minutes. The $45 ferry fare is paid on the return trip. Apart from certain tournaments, handicap certificates are required, the handicap requirement for the North Course is 30. Hong Kong ID card or Passport number is must be given when booking, and be shown to the starter.The marshals can be very strict about the pace of play. On all holes (at least in the south course) generous drop zones are provided. You should use them.
MacauWestin Resort on Coloane Island near Hac Sha Beach.
Nan Sha – One resort with two 18 hole courses: Mountain Course (tricky, hilly, carts are advisable) and Valley Course (walking only, easier)
The list price is RMB 540 mid-week and RMB1,080 at weekends, but cheaper packages, including ferry tickets from Hong Kong and accommodation are available through agents.
Shenzhen – Due to its proximity to Hong Kong, Shenzhen has many golf courses. Noble Merchant and Sand River are very close to each other, a 20 minute taxi ride from both Lo Wu and the Shekou ferry terminal. Noble Merchant is a very forgiving course, good for beginners.
ZhuhaiGolden Gulf Golf Club, 27 holes designed by Colin Montgomerie. 30 minutes by taxi from the ferry pier, expect to pay around 100 RMB. The golf club provides some shuttle buses. Not very challenging. Accommodation is available, and packages including green fees, accommodation and ferry tickets can be purchased through agents.

On most courses, it is compulsory to use caddies. Some courses prohibit the caddies from collecting tips, but generally a tip is expected.
As an advice drink lots of fluids. In sunny weather wear long trousers and long sleeved shirts, use sunscreen on exposed skin. Use mosquito repellent.

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