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Fine Green China

06-09china_robin

Photo: Robin Moyer

BEIJING

If your time in Beijing is short, a good itinerary is to wake up early for the dawn flag-raising ceremony in Tiananmen Square before heading to the nearby wonders of the Forbidden City, where twenty-four emperors and two dynasties ruled the Middle Kingdom for more than 500 years. Make an afternoon trip to the Summer Palace and the picturesque Kunming Lake on the outskirts of town before tackling the Great Wall at Badaling Changcheng (one hour from Beijing) the next day.

Where to Play

Pine Valley Golf Resort & Country Club ****
Billed as the country's most exclusive club and located some thirty-five miles west of the capital in a heavily wooded valley, the audaciously named Pine Valley is a strong if fairly typical Nicklaus layout featuring exceptional bunkering and large multitiered greens. The club has gained distinction thanks to its unrivaled proximity to the Great Wall and breathtaking views of the mountains west of Beijing. Walk-in visitors are not permitted—you must play with a member.
Chanping District; 011-86/010-8979-6888, pinevalley.com.cn. Yardage: 7,056. Par: 72. Greens Fee: $235. ARCHITECT: Jack Nicklaus, 2001.

Beijing Jinghua Golf Club ***
Situated on the other side of Beijing, Jinghua Golf Club is a straight-hitter's delight. Tall pines and thick fescue border the narrow fairways, while the elevated greens feature significant slope. The course is pretty much devoid of elevation change, but an excellent stretch of holes around the turn make it far from boring.
East Yanjiao Economic Development Zone; 011-86/010-6159-1234. Yardage: 7,211. Par: 72. GREENS FEES: $70–$120. ARCHITECT: Tiger Song, 2004.

Where to Stay

The 700-room China World Hotel (shangri-la.com) is the Shangri-La's flagship in China, while the Beijing Hotel (chinabeijinghotel.com) is the capital's oldest.

Where to Eat

The seventy-plus-year-old Fangshan restaurant, situated on the shore of Beihai Lake, serves traditional Chinese dishes once prepared for emperors of the Qing Dynasty, including delicious soups and a variety of steamed breads. For succulent Peking duck, head to the Four Seasons at the Jianguo Hotel.

KUNMING

Ethnic diversity abounds in the city of Kunming, and a visit to the Yunnan Provincial Museum explains why. The 1,200-year-old Yuantong Temple, surrounded by a series of attractive lotus-filled moats, is a relaxing place to spend a couple of hours.

Where to Play

Spring City Golf & Lake Resort, Mountain ****1/2 Lake ****
If you're coming to China solely to play golf, the thirty-six-hole Spring City Golf & Lake Resort is a must. The Mountain course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, slightly surpasses the Lake, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. layout, but really, they're both first-rate. The Mountain rises gently through towering glades and uses the natural terrain to its fullest, while the lower-lying Lake features narrow, undulating landing areas. Kunming's mild climate and the club's expert greenskeepers keep both courses superbly conditioned.
Yang Zong Hai Lake, Yi-Lang; 011-86/087-1767-1188, springcityresort.com. Yardage: 7,453 (Mountain); 7,204 (Lake). Par: 72. GREENS FEES: $69–$220. Architects: Jack Nicklaus (Mountain), 1996; Robert Trent Jones Jr. (Lake), 1998.

Where to Stay

Most golfers stay at the Spring City Resort, but an intrepid few choose the comfortable, if predictable, accommodations at the four-star Green Lake Hotel (greenlakehotel.com.cn).

Where to Eat

Boiled chicken with lotus seeds is the provincial dish of Yunnan, and for that and more try the Cheng Bian Xiang restaurant in the center of town.

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