Shanghai’s booming economy has placed it centre stage in China‘s rapidly growing golf industry. The city hosts one of the four prestigious World Golf Championships on the PGA Tour and is home to some excellent courses. Here’s our guide to 7 of the best.
This 7,226-yard, par 72 Nelson & Haworth design is one of the most prestigious in China and deservedly hosts the annual WGC-HSBC Championship on the PGA Tour. It’s a severe but fair test of golf, with almost every shot in the bag required. All the greens on the par 5’s are protected by water, making them for most players strategic three shotters. The best of the par 5’s is the 2nd, with its slight dogleg, a stream running alongside it and a green which coaxes you to go for broke. The 4th is a classic mid-length par 4 and one of the prettiest in China being framed by a 900-year-old Ginko tree.
Neatly fitting into just 165 acres, this compact par-72 Dana Fry design measures at just over 7,200 yards. Tonnes of sand and earth was moved to create the elevation changes that provide an equal number of uphill and downhill holes. The golfing experience is adorned with 8,000 native trees planted all around the course. There are some testing holes as most are built around four large lakes that take centre stage. A magnificent clubhouse sits on the highest part of the development giving great panoramic views.
Opened in 1996 and designed by former USPGA professional Bob Martin, the course meanders alongside several waterways that connect to the nearby Dianshan Lake. It’s very flat, apart for some wicked catch basins, and the greens have ample movement. Most of the bunkers have very shallow lips and the plethora of large sandy wastes are more likely to come into play for the higher handicapper. Greens can play as high as 12 on the stimpmeter and tricky pin placements are common.
A Trent Jones design that opened in 1990, this course has had plenty of time to mature. It is regarded as one of the toughest tests in Shanghai, although it is short by Jones’ standards measuring 7,025 yards. Scoring is made tough by tight landing areas and tiered greens that have some subtle borrows. The fairways don’t give a lot of roll and, of course, there’s Jones’ strategic bunkering. There’s a nice mix of short iron approach par 4’s and long iron second shot par 4’s. Make use of the three practice holes if you are serious about scoring, they are in excellent condition.
This 36-hole layout designed by Peter Thompson consists of the Lake Course and the Forest Course. The Lake Course is in true Thompson style with a distinct Scottish flavour to it. A variety of shots can be used especially in the approaches due to clever mounding work, and look out for the high-lipped pot bunkers that fit snugly into some of the greens. The Forest course is tighter and requires extreme accuracy, especially off the tee. Some great par 3’s feature, with the tall, mature trees creating a spectacular backdrop.
Designed by Nelson & Haworth, this complex is comprised of the Old Course and the New Course. Both are very much ‘target golf’ courses compared to the links style courses that are so prevalent in China. With their signature high-front bunkering and greens with strong borrows, it is easy to let a decent score slip away. Both courses at the club, which hosted the Volvo China Open in 1998, require brains rather than brawn. There is a substantial driving range with 30 bays and a short pitch and putt 18 holes to sharpen your short irons.
A Jack Nicklaus design, this par-72, 7,100-yard course can feel like it plays a lot longer. This is due to the winds that blow in from the East China Sea. The second hole, a par-4 monster of 460 yards, is one of the toughest holes in China. With a lake down the left side, heavy rough on the right and a typical Nicklaus green with lots of movement, walking off here with a par is a shot on the field. The picturesque 17th hole offers some lovely vista’s of the ocean. Despite the aggressive bunkering, it’s a fun course to play.