Tom Wesikopf must have pinched himself when he was given the opportunity to create a couple of golf courses on this land.
The land itself is drop dead gorgeous with a combination of granite outcrops, sandy wastelands, a variety of low lying beach vegetation- all with the backdrop of the South China Sea.
The peninsula apparently had almost no development prior to these courses coming along, but now the infrastructure, and the hordes that follow are on the march....
The Shenzhou Peninsula is a relatively narrow peninsula with the two golf courses- The West and The East dominating all the really spectacular territory on the tip of the peninsula- although it must be said the Sheraton hotel did very well too being located smack on the beach very near the point. Weiskopf also added 5 spectacular practice holes!
We played the West Course and at times the course touched the coast on both sides of the peninsula , and in between travelled through a diversity of sandy terrains, with plenty of gentle elevation change. No two holes were alike, and you never really got the feeling you knew what sort of hole would be around the next corner...
The mix of large mature trees, natural water ways, primary and secondary dunes, spectacular ocean views, seaside vegetation, with majestic natural rock outcroppings and the aforementioned gentle elevation changes make this a truly world class site!!
At The Travelling Golfer we get to see a lot of golf courses, but every few years we come across something really special.
The Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula is REALLY SPECIAL!
Holy cow, batman I am excited!
It must be difficult for a course like this to pick a signature hole- there are so many spectacular options. Picture this!
We teed off on the long par 3 6th hole from a tee on the beach with fishing junks bobbing around behind us.
We hit across a lagoon to a picture perfect green setting with a massive rocky outcrop as backdrop.
Then we turn the corner to the long par 4 7th, a fantastic cape style hole with vast sandy waste areas to hit over or around and rocky outcrops on the right...
Then the eigth hole- now on the other side of the peninsula, and we tee off over an expanse of sand with the beach in play all down the right side of the hole. And just for good measure the good line off the tee takes you over some palm trees, and a further expanse of sandy terrain.
Ok, so the beach is on the right hand side, but I reckon there is actually more sand in play down the left, and in front of the tee, and in front of the green than actually on the beach. It reminds me of playing desert golf in the USA, but the China Sea does add quite a bit to the equation.
Actually I think holes 16 & 17 are the ones where the cameras will be out the most.
Both have the beach on the right, and vast expanses of sandy terrain, and low lying vegetation- but they also have those wonderfully expressive granite outcrops which really define the look at Shenzhou Peninsula.
We played the West Course at The Dunes. It is a little more mature than the East Course, but I am reliably advised that both courses are of similar standard, and that the east course is perhaps a little wilder and has lots of ocean front holes.
If this is the case then we have a golfing destination extraordinairre!
Tom Weiskopf has taken some amazing terrain and built a golf course for the ages- make that two courses for the ages...
He has created a look that will become instantly recognisable around the golfing world.
It is also beautifully maintained
But more than that he has designed a course(s) that is very strong strategically as well as visually striking AND just great fun to play.
You will want to play this course(s) over and over...
I certainly want to go back.
Hainan Island is becoming known as China's Hawaii because of the reliable tropical climate, and The Sheraton hotel Shenzhou Peninsula backs on to the course, and sits right on the beach- it is a very impressive place to spend a few days while golfing at The Dunes.
This hotel and these golf courses should be on every golfers bucket list.
I have not played Shanquin Bay, and I love Stoneforest, but The Dunes may well now be the best golfing destination in China.
The Travelling Golfer