Anyone closely following the golf industry after the banking failures of 2008 saw the dramatic swing towards Asia design and construction markets took. Coore & Crenshaw found our place in the Far East amidst the South China Sea at Shanqin Bay Golf Club on the once forgotten province of Hainan. This island is as removed as one could find from China’s central government. Yet, with growth and speculation swelling to historic levels in China, the powers in Beijing, along with private investors, quickly swooned over the tropical locale. Building a course in such a distant land would require great teamwork.
Hainan has the land mass of a small country. Its population is amassed of occasional cities that feel like giant villages along with countless actual villages, which seem to dot every square kilometer of the countryside. The island’s shores vary widely in terrain. Shanqin Bay, on the southeast coast, shows off this varied topography in dramatic fashion. Steeply rolling farmland, a broad, fertile valley, cliff top vantages and sand dunes are all packed between the shattered cauldron of an extinct volcano and golden beaches studded with black outcroppings. Linking these tumultuous parcels together as Bill Coore’s routing does was a huge feat in its own right. Then, our team of Coore & Crenshaw Associates, combined with not one, but two contractors, U.S. based Landscapes Unlimited and their Chinese partner, Forward Golf, were charged to make sense of it all.
In its infancy, Chinese course design followed the plain-to-the-eye path of modern golf design. This was compounded by the nation’s infatuation with highly manicured landscapes. Coore and Crenshaw made headlines when it introduced China to what is not a new, but simply different approach to golf. Shanqin Bay has resided amongst Golf Magazine’s World Top 100 since its debut. The layout infuses an intensely foreign landscape with the charms and ambiguity of old school strategic golf architecture. Firm conditions, broad, undulating fairways and ragged edges stoke curiosity, admiration and even puzzlement from the Club’s varied guests. The trek to Hainan can be arduous, but the rewards of this exotic locale are clear.
Shanqin Bay Golf Club . Hainan . China