Mission Hills Golf Club
When the international golf community came to China, this is where it landed. There are two eighteen-hole courses designed by Jack Nicklaus that work their way through undulating parkland. Two more courses, one designed by Jumbo Ozaki and the other by Nick Faldo, run through deep mountain valleys and mature forests; both are expected to open this summer. A full-service five-star resort and the only four-course facility in China, the club has a membership that seems to include every tycoon in Hong Kong despite the $150,000 full-membership entrance fee, which allows the members to play on all four courses. The "Jade" membership, for just under $50,000, will allow access to the two new courses only. The best-known course is the Nicklaus-designed Mountain layout, otherwise known as the World Cup course because that international tournament was held here in 1995. The Mountain (par seventy-two, 6,970 yards from the back tees) and the Valley (par seventy-two, 7,101 yards) feature deep-faced bunkers aside fairways and greens. Only Tiger Woods can carry some of these bunkers from the back, so choose your tees wisely (and honestly). Both carts and caddies are required to keep the pace of play moving--and to help deal with the high heat and humidity during summer months. With fifty tennis courts nearby, as well as a spa (sauna and massage available) and the largest clubhouse in China, Mission Hills markets itself as the premier resort on the mainland.
How to Get a Tee Time: Call the reservation hotline in Hong Kong at 011-852-2826-0288, or have your concierge make arrangements. Visitors usually get on the courses weekdays only (members frequently fill up all weekend tee times). Beginning this year, the Mountain and Valley courses will require handicap certificates on alternate months; players wanting to play the Mountain in March, May, July, September and November will be required to present a handicap certificate. The Valley course will require a certificate in February, April, June, August, October and December. The phone number is 011-86-755-802-2931. (Clubs and shoes are available for rent.)
Directions From Hong Kong: Mission Hills will send a shuttle bus to pick you up at your Central or Kowloon hotel and drive you to the course outside Shenzhen--about a two-hour trip if there are no delays clearing immigration.
Shenzhen Golf Club
Located in the middle of the city of Shenzhen, this comfortable, thoroughly modern club has hosted the Chinese Amateur Championship three times. Senior PGA Tour star Isao Aoki designed the original eighteen holes, now called the A and B nines, which opened in 1985. Together, they make for a long, tough parklands track that stretches out to a beefy 7,250 yards and an exercise in power golf: Eight of the ten par fours are 405 yards or longer; three of the four par threes are over two hundred yards. Humps and hollows have been added to relieve the course of its flatness. Some of the greens are undulating and deceptive, but all are cut for medium speeds. The C nine (3,246 yards, par thirty-six), which opened in 1990, works over hillier land with a mix of long and short holes, including a 600-yard par five and a 115-yard par three. There are eighteen water hazards in all, and some can't be seen from tees or fairways until it is too late--a good reason to take a caddie along. The course has a gardenlike setting among tall trees and lotus ponds and is an easy walk. The facility has Chinese, Japanese and Western-style restaurants. The clubhouse includes a Japanese-style bathhouse, karaoke, sauna and mah-jongg rooms.
How to Get a Tee Time: Though the club is open daily to members, you should call the Hong Kong office to make arrangements in advance (011-852-2890-6321). (Clubs and shoes are available for rent.)
Directions From Hong Kong: There is a bus that goes from downtown Hong Kong directly to the club. The bus ride and clearing immigration usually take about an hour. The club is about ten minutes past the border.