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Golf in Hainan

Hainan golf courses

During its construction, the locals new Hainan Island as “Project 791”, now they and the world know it as Mission Hills Hainan, a staggering engineering feat that only the Chinese would have dreamt up and completed in a time frame that other places in the world would have considered “impossible”.

Set on the island, that was once considered as China´s answer to Hawaii, Mission Hills Hainan is going to be at the centre of the Chinese golf tourism industry with a total of 27 courses, double what Hainan province had before the completion of the mammoth project.

The brain-child of Ken Chu, son of the billionaire business-man responsible for Mission Hills in Shenzhen, the island has been transformed into a golfing paradise, with no expense spared on any aspect of the incredible feat.

It is what could be described as the only golf city in the world, perhaps even the Capital City of World Golf.

It is not just the Mission Hills Club, the largest golf club in the world, that creates such a central hub for golf, there are other courses that reside in the Hainan province, some of which are also very good and well worth a visit.

Most notably the Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Club, located a 30-minute drive south of the city of Lingshui this parkland layout is a superb design by Mark Hollinger.  Rated in 2016 as the 4th best course in China Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Club is a great test of golf, offering views out across the bay.

18 holes measuring 7555 yards from the back tees the course is long, but with various tee options any level of golfer can have an enjoyable round here. Club house facilities are good and you will be treated like royalty by the ever attentive and helpful staff.

It goes without saying that the main draw to the region is most certainly The Mission Hills Club, with its 10 courses that really make this the hotspot for golf in this southern part of China.

The clubhouse facilities at Mission Hills are quite simply 5 star, an enormous clubhouse with a myriad of catering options ensures that every golfer will find something to their tastes.

The service you will receive is exquisite, from the moment you drive through the gates to the time you leave.

Each course presents a different challenge, different design and a different atmosphere, something which Brian Curley of Schmidt-Curley design should be praised for.

Hainan Island´s topography was perfect for the creation of the resort and yet each course, distinctive from the next seems to sit perfectly within its surroundings, a true testament to the forethought and planning that went into the creation of Mission Hills Hainan.

Making the most of the coastal location is Shadow Dunes. Huge sand dunes and native vegetation give body and soul to this course which runs alongside the famed beaches of Hainan. The undulating design and some of the largest greens you will ever see put an emphasis on the short game and accuracy.

Crafted on the iconic designs of the Australian Sandbelt courses, hence the name, Sandbelt Trails measures in at almost 7000 metres. The stand out feature of Sandbelt Trails is, unsurprisingly the bunkering. A mix of both formal and wild bunkering creates a wonderful visual treat, and the Eucalyptus trees add to the distinctive look of this course.

If you are a traditionalist and like the old styled golf courses then you must try The Vintage Course, large mature trees create the form for the holes, whilst small bunkers, some of which are deep pot bunkers, protect greens and call for care when playing the approach shot.

Perhaps surprisingly, one of the most dramatic courses is the par 3 Stepping Stone Course, aptly named. “Stepping stones” of green grass and bunkers dissect the black lava rock and thick vegetation to produce a remarkable pitch and putt course that is sure to test.  The second of the par 3 courses, the Double Pin course is unique in that is has two pin positions from which to choose, easy or hard, a great option for practising your approach play.

A playful name for a course which is exciting and challenging to any level of golfer, whether beginning looking to start their journey in golf or the seasoned golfer looking to improve their iron play and approach shots.

Curley, responsible for all of the courses here, has without doubt created a collection of 18 fantastic par 3s.

Not a single drop of water can be found on the course, instead the holes are defined by thick vegetation and the black lava rock which punctuates the entire landscape.

From above the pay three gems stick out as bright as green emeralds on the black backdrop of rock creating a visually stunning golf course.

The holes are true target par threes with the longest measuring just 153 yards from the back tees, whilst the shortest is the first. At just 98 yards, you are required to play over the expanse of rock to the small green protected by a large bunker, another feature of this extremely interesting little golf course.

The 3rd is tough, requiring for correct club selection to avoid the huge bunker behind the green.

Hole 5 is again protected by large bunkers, emphasising the need for accuracy, or a goreat sand game to avoid big numbers.

A large bunker to the front of the 10th green and one back is another example of how simple bunker placement can change the way a hole must be played.

The final hole is another cracking par three, again with the protection of some huge bunkers.

Although the theme of greens being protected by bunkers none of the holes are similar nor will you get bored with the challenge that is presented for you.

The greens are small to mid-sized and have a varying degree of undulations, keeping you on your toes throughout.

Not a single hole on this delightful par three course would look out of place on any of the orthodox 18 hole courses at Mission Hills Hainan, in fact some could easily sit in place of the par threes that are present.

Curley has demonstrated, much like his mentor Pete Dye the importance of creating good par three holes to challenge and enhance golf course design.

Well worth playing, don´t miss this if you are ever at Mission Hills Hainan.

As the second of two par three courses at Mission Hills, Hainan the aptly named Double Pin course is a great compliment to the more orthodox 18 hole courses.

You may be excused for thinking that the Double Pin means that there are 2 pins to create 18 holes on this course, in fact it is 18 greens with 2 pin positions to create two options for each hole.

So, if you fancied playing the course twice you would almost be able to play 2 different courses by changing the flag to which you play.

It is a somewhat ingenious idea, which allowed Brian Curley to create what could be considered an academy or beginners course into what could be a great test of approach play for the lower handicapped golfer.

As part of the design Curley has included many trees and colourful plants to create a perfect marriage between the bright flowers and clear blue skies of Hainan, offering an atmosphere unlike any of the other courses at Mission Hills Hainan.

Don´t be fooled by the Double Pin positions, they truly offer a great test of golf, and yet again demonstrate Curley´s ability to design and build stunning par 3s that will test even the very best tour professionals.

The large greens, needed to accommodate the double pins and provide a big enough variation of difficulty are protected by equally large bunkers which provides protection and a strategic headache for those playing to the more difficult pin positions.

Hole distances range from 73 yards up to 159 yards, requiring the golfer to use more than just one or two clubs.

Heavy contoured fairways and fringes lead beautifully into the rolling greens making the Double Pins course easy on the eye.

Many golfers will not appreciate the intricacies of this course, seeing it just as a par 3 course that is not worth the effort to play, but for those that are willing to give it a try, The Double Pin course will delight and challenge from the first tee to the last green.

A great way to enjoy a family game of golf, improve your approach play and course management. 

As a tribute to Pete Dye, Curley designed the Stone Quarry Course and it is a stunner.

Railroad tie sleepers are prominent, large waste bunkers and small tricky greens create a true test of golf, on a course that is somewhat overshadowed by the more acclaimed Lava and Blackstone courses. To my mind, Stone Quarry is definite play.

The eastern American style Meadow Links is an open course with the main feature being the geometric shaped, large, grass-faced bunkers. You will find a few clusters of trees here, but the real defence for the course are the large greens.

It could be said that the Preserve Course is the easiest course of the 10 here at Mission Hills Hainan, dense plantations of palm trees provide a backdrop to the holes, whilst large bunkers frame the wide fairways. Visually interesting it is worth a go.

Finally, I should mention the two “flagship” courses of Mission Hills Hainan, Lava Fields a championship quality design and challenging enough for any tour event Lava Fields is dominated by large expanses of black lava rock. 7400 yards of holes are to be mastered if you want to card a good score here. It is almost link-like in feel with wild bunkering and lack of trees.

Blackstone, Mission Hills Hainan is, well a brute, a championship golf course that will chew up the best players on the planet and spit them out without a moment’s hesitation.

It is long, tough and unforgiving, the quality and design is without question, demonstrated by the World Cup of Golf committee choosing the course as host, before it was even completed for play. 

The Preserve at Mission Hills, Hainan is a more conventional course design, that is more welcoming to players of all levels and at 6535 yards from the back tees it is a mid-length course, with a goof variety of hole lengths.

It is spread out across a huge expanse of lava rock, which gave Curley the option to make some extremely wide fairways, that are almost impossible to miss.

It is not constructed to the same level as Blackstone or Lava Fields, yet seems to have more of a modern minimalist feel to it, which will appeal to many golfers that are more used to “club golf”.

Wide open, with sculptured bunkers offering some protection to the fairways and greens, The Preserve is a golfer friendly course.

Although golfer friendly it is not to say that there aren´t holes that will test you, the long par 4 12th hole measures in at 427 yards and will require a well struck drive and accurate approach to find the large green.

Curley reputation of designing memorable par 3s is again true here, with the 9th, 11th and 14th really standing out as great hole design.

The 9th is a beautifully designed mid length par 3 at 161 yards, the green sits at an angle to the tee and the bunkers that cross the hole provide enough of a threat to make this a testing challenge.

Another stunning par 3, the 167 yard, 11th requires a well-flighted iron over the quarry to find the putting surface.

As the shortest par 3 on the course, at just 148 yards, the 14th is a real test of a golfer’s nerve. The tee shot must carry the large central bunker, and club selection must be right to find the correct tier of this three-tiered green.

Much like the other “golfer friendly” course, Meadow Links, The Preserve is not a course that will remain in the memory the same way as Blackstone or Lava Fields, instead you are more likely to remember The Preserve as the course you played best on.

A particular design feature that aids golfers is the predominant mounding around the greens, which actually feeds balls back onto the putting surface. So, if you strike the ball consistently here and more or less on line you will have some great opportunities to card a great score.

The Preserve is however one of the prettier courses here, the use of native shrubs and palm plantations give a more enclosed feel to the course and provides shade to the golfer, during the hotter hours of the day. An abundance of ground cover almost hides the lava rock formation, on which the course was built, but this only goes further to enhance the tranquil beauty of this design.Mission Hills Golf Club Hainan is an extravagant concept, it covers a immense amount of land and is a demonstration of Chinese power and grandeur.

While golf is still an elitist sport in China, Mission Hills is targeting this market and with the increase in golf tourism in China it is leading the way. 

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7 Results

Blackstone Golf Course Mission Hills

Price on application
Schmidt-Curley Design
7808 yards | Parkland
5.0 out of 5
5 1

The Blackstone course at Mission Hills on China´s Hainan Island is just one of 10 courses in the Mission Hills complex.

Built on the black lava rocks the course is an absolute brute. At 7808 yards from the championship tees, length is definitely a big player here if you want to score well.

Constructed on a 350-acre site, the course weaves its way through mature trees, jungle vegetation and natural wetlands to create what can only be described as a course designed for the natural terrain.

Brian Curley, of Schmidt & Curley design was the designer and has crafted a true test of golfing ability.

The challenge that the courses possesses was never in doubt with the 2011 World Cup being allocated to the course before construction was even completed.

Lava Fields Golf Course Mission Hills

Price on application
Brian Curley and Lee Schmidt
7475 yards | Parkland
5.0 out of 5
5 1

Lava Fields at Mission Hills Haikou has been designed to fit perfectly with its surroundings, yet the surroundings are further complimented by the golf course which is testament to the design by Curley and possibly the reason why I believe it to be the slightly better of the two courses.

At 7475 yards from the back tees, it is more than capable of holding tour events although shorter than its sister course.

Within the design features are the large, rugged and wild bunkers that merge seamlessly with the lava rock to create a visual feast for the eyes.

Wider and more open, it is slightly more forgiving from the tee, but do not let this lead you into a false sense of security, if you do not bring you’re a-game to the course you will be punished and big numbers will appear on your scorecard.

Meadow Links Golf Course Mission Hills

Price on application
Schmidt-Curley Design
6673 yards | Parkland
5.0 out of 5
5 1

Considered to be one of the more traditional styles of design at Mission Hills Hainan, Meadow Links is similar in style to that of the US Open courses found on the east coast.

The use of native grasses and the care not to require too much earth moving in the construction phase has created a beautiful, gently undulating golf course that is easy on the eye and your game.

Measuring just 6673 yards the Meadow course is not anywhere near as long as the other courses at Mission Hills and it is a welcome sight.

Short it maybe, but challenging it still is.

Being more open than the other designs, play is more affected by wind hence the name.

Sandbelt Trails Golf Course Mission Hills

Price on application
Schmidt-Curley Design
7297 yards | Links-style
4.0 out of 5
4 1

Considered by Brian Curley and the team at Mission Hills Hainan, Sandbelt Trails was modelled on the great Australian Sandbelt courses.

A 7297-yard par 72 golf course, Sandbelt Trails provides golfers with a straightforward test of golf that is far from the difficulties posed by the Lava Fields or championship Blackstone courses here.

The use of the natural vegetation and lava rocks provide a much-needed injection of style to this otherwise relatively flat and somewhat drab golf course, in comparison to the design and difficulty of the other Mission Hills Hainan.

Shadow Dunes Golf Course Mission Hills

Price on application
Schmidt-Curley Design
6428 yards | Links-style
5.0 out of 5
5 1

Mission Hills, Hainan was an ambitious project in the first place, but the course that stands out as perhaps the most difficult and ambitious design of all is the Shadow Dunes Course.

Not the longest course at the resort, Shadow Dunes comes in at 6428-yards and has a par of 70.

Shadow Dunes, arguably has the most character, in terms of design and is the one course that seems to sit apart from the rest.

So what makes this course so different?

Well, to begin it required an immense amount of earth moving, placed on top of the volcanic lava formations, to create what seemingly is a natural beachside golf course.

Stone Quarry Golf Course Mission Hills

Price on application
Schmidt-Curley Design
6029 yards | Parkland
5.0 out of 5
5 1

If you are looking for a Pete Dye design course at Mission Hills Hainan, you won´t find one, instead you will come across the Stone Quarry Course, designed by Brian Curley of Schmidt-Curley design, in honour of his mentor Pete Dye.

And what a course he has created.

Not to the same level as the Blackstone or Lava Fields tracks, but such a good test of golf that you just have to play it.

At just 6029 yards the par 70, Stone Quarry course is short, but as you would expect from a Pete Dye inspired course the challenge lies within the intricacy of the design rather than the length.

The Vintage Golf Course Mission Hills

Price on application
Schmidt-Curley Design
7363 yards | Parkland
2.3 out of 5
2.3 2

As one of 10 courses at Mission Hills, Hainan, The Vintage could not be better named.

Sitting behind the more famous and well thought of courses of Lava Fields and Blackstone, The Vintage is somewhat overlooked, but with no good reason.

It is a superb design, in a return to a bygone era of golf course design and it plays its part exceptionally well.

One major difference, and the effect the modern era has had on the game, is the increase in length from years past. Measuring in at 7363 yards The Vintage is a tough course to tame.

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