Mission Hills, Haikou

Mission Hills, Haikou

When it comes to golf in Asia, Mission Hills is one resort that often comes up first in a conversation with golf writers and experts. The brand is quickly growing in reputation as a golfing destination of the highest order – or should we say, destinations. An important thing to note is that Mission Hills has three locations with two close enough to form one giant development. Mission Hills, Shenzhen in the Guangdong Province features seven 18-hole courses designed by some of the great architects and most famous names in the sport, including the World Cup Course by Jack Nicklaus (par 72, 7294 yards / 6670 meters) and the Ozaki course (par 72, 7024 yards / 6423 meters) by Japanese legend Masashi Ozaki. Swedish great Annika Sorenstam’s first course Annika (par 72, 6703 yards / 6129 meters) is one of the features of the nearby Mission Hills, Dongguan, which has five championship courses. It also has a course by Greg Norman (par 72, 7228 yards / 6609) that aims to bring the challenges of Melbourne’s sand belt to the Chinese resort.

However, renowned Japanese golf writer and design consultant Masa Nishijima rated Mission Hills, Haikou as the top golf resort in China. The mega development sits on the island of Hainan off the southern coast of the mainland and has been built on a bed of lava rock. Here you’ll find 10 courses to choose from, each offering challenges inspired by some of the world’s most famous layouts.
Sitting at the top of the list is the par-73 Blackstone Course, which hosted the World Cup of Golf in 2011. The 7808-yard (7140-meter) layout winds its way through dense jungle, over rolling hills and between Lychee trees and ancient lava flows. Americans Brian Curley and Lee Schmidt, who designed and built all 10 Haikou courses, decided to eliminate the rough and opt for fairway cut throughout but golfers will be challenged by the distance, huge bunkers, as well as forced carries over lava rock.
Masa Nishijima’s favorite Haikou course is Lava Fields (par 72, 7475 yards / 6835 meters), which offers a similar layout to the Blackstone Course with challenging bunkering, but with fewer trees, it is much more open. The lush fairways are laid out between the black lava rock. Both Blackstone and Lava Fields are walkable (paths even go over the lakes so you don’t walk around them). Other courses at this resort include the Sandbelt Trails, The Vintage, Stepping Stone, Meadow Links, Stone Quarry, Double Pin, The Preserve and Shadow Dunes.

The challenges: Blackstone Course is difficult off the back tee and you’ll have to avoid the sprawling bunkers and avoid the trees to score well here. Lava Fields Course features similar bunkering but is more open to the wind and you’ll be hitting over more volcanic rock. Both courses favor big drivers of the ball, with wide open fairways and little rough.
When to play: Year-round, however, given the tropical climate, there can be heavy rains in summer (June-August) and autumn (September-November) is typhoon season.
Par: Blackstone Course par 73; Lava Fields Course par 72
Yardage: Blackstone Course 7139 meters, 7808 yards; Lava Fields Course 6835 meters, 7475 yards
Slope: Blackstone Course 135; Lava Fields Course 131
Rating: Blackstone Course 75.6; Lava Fields Course 72.9
Best hole: Blackstone Course: hole six (598yards, 547 meters), a par 5 dubbed “Devil’s Hole”, has trees on the right off the tee and multiple huge bunkers surrounding the green. Lava Fields Course: the 469-meter (513-yard) ninth will test even the longest hitters to make par in 4 shots.
The course designer says:
“The two courses are very similar in their design ‘playbook’: width, transitional, irregular turf lines and bunker edges, center-line hazards that draw your eye, not crazy greens, and very walkable as well. Both are more bombers’ courses than most.
“My favorite course to play is Shadow Dunes – sporty, short, very wild, huge greens. We created a dunes course on the lava rock.”
– Brian Curley
The resort experience:
Mission Hills, Haikou is a giant development – not only in terms of the number of golf courses on offer but the resort itself is an 18-storey hotel overlooking the lush fairways. There are 539 luxury suites and rooms in the complex, and each has a balcony to enjoy the view. There are indoor and outdoor swimming pools as well as the Lava Lagoon aquatic theme park, which features a man-made beach, Lazy River, pool, and beach volleyball and soccer. While you’re out knocking a ball around, the children can enjoy crafts in the Kids’ Club (try the Origami or Calligraphy Workshops) and games room. The resort itself has received awards for its environmentally-friendly design.

Dine and wine: No need to go hungry here. There are 12 restaurants to choose from including the Silver Moon, which features Hainan and Canton specialties such as the braised sea cucumber or Wenchang poached chicken.
The accommodation: You’ll find everything from the Deluxe Room with 50 square meters (538 square feet) of space and broadband internet so you can stay connected in your complimentary bathrobe, through to the Spa Villa with independent dining room, kitchen and steam room as well as an outdoor Jacuzzi. Rooms feature chic, modern interiors and a large flat-screen TV you can watch from your bed.
Other activities:
There is nothing like easing the muscles in a spa after a solid round of golf, especially if you have burnt calories walking. What makes Mission Hills Haikou stand out is that there are 168 hot and cold mineral spring pools to choose from – some are filled with herbs to assist with specific conditions, such as rosemary to help respiratory ailments or oregano for muscle inflammation. It is the “World’s Largest Mineral Springs Resort”, according to Guinness World Records, with the facilities spread out over 176,284 square meters (1,897,505 square feet). The Mission Hills spa has hair and nail treatments, hydrotherapy and, interestingly, a library and café.

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