Mission Hills Haikou is the second significant golf business offering from the Chu family who came to fame with Mission Hills Shenzhen and it's world renowned twelve course resort.
The new Mission Hills Haikou is a project of such enormity that it is hard to get one's head around the size and cost and vision involved.
Already ten courses are in play, with a plan for twelve more. But wait, there's more..
The entertainment precinct ( Lan Kwai Fong Haikou ) will be complete by christmas 2014, and will include brand and luxury shopping, all sorts of entertainment, a plethora of dining options and some name hotels.
All up the area will be the 1 1/2 times the size of Manhattan, and all built in the time you and I might renovate the back garden. This is a most daring vision...and it is growing by the day
But wait, that's not all!
There is also a vast Movie Theme town nearing completion which will both attract throngs of visitors and be used as a site for new movies to be made....
It does look really cool with a entire replica of Old Shanghai town- but I would hate to think how much just this project alone would have cost...
So Mission Hills is much more than a golf project!
The Blackstone course at Mission Hills Haikou is THE Championship course, and the course where all the big tournaments are now being played...
Blackstone is aptly named.
There is plenty of black lava stone dominating the scenery, the surrounds, the carries etc...
The course has a character of it's own. It has the look and feel of a championship course from the moment you walk on to the first tee.
Brian Curley from Schmidt & Curley was the man behind the design ( as with all Mission Hills courses ). From my experience his bunkering often tends to be understated, but with Blackstone the bunkering is a feature. The dramatic jagged edges of vast white sandy bunkers form a striking contrast to the black lava surrounds each hole, and give the course a sense of drama. The bunkering not only frames the holes, but provides the strategy for the thinking golfer to play each hole.
Blackstone photographs well, and comes up well on TV, so with the power of Mission Hills marketing it will likely become the best known course in China.
So how good is it?
The answer is pretty darn good. Sure there are a couple of holes ( 12 & 13 ) which are nice but nothing special, but there are also quite a number of holes that would not be out of place on some of the best championship courses in the world...
Surprisingly the black lava terrain provides some quite significant elevation change throughout the course which bucks and rolls not unlike a Royal Melbourne or similar sandbelt type course would. The lava comes in and out of play forcing carries, or keeping us from straying to far off line.
Unfortunately just when I was thinking this course was going to meet the highest of expectations I was let down. The finish in my opinion is ok, but not of the standard, or indeed in keeping with the style and grace of the rest of the course. I had heard that there was an issue in getting the land required and these last 3 holes were compromised. I can't say for sure- but both 17 & 18 are strange difficult holes with few options for the shorter hitter. It is sad to finish this way as the rest of the course is very good
Nevertheless any trip to Mission Hills Haikou, or to Hainan Island should include a game on Blackstone. Despite my reservations about the closing holes, I would still regard Blackstone as the best Mission Hills course, and one of the top 10 courses in China.
The Travelling Golfer