Sandbelt Trails is the no 2 course at Mission Hills Haikou, and the concept is kinda cool.
With a kangaroo on every hole sign, it is clear the course is trying to replicate the look and feel of the famous Melbourne sandbelt.
Brian Curley from Schmidt Curley has done that by using sand faced bunkering, with rolling fairways, and rolling undulating greens.
So far so good!
The surrounding black lava is not featured as significantly as it is with some of the other courses, so the focus off course is more on the tropical vegetation and the occasional water hazard- all without a gum tree in sight...
It is probably fair to say that the design team wanted to keep the golfer's focus on those rolling fairways and greens , and sand faced bunkers...
It is also probably safe to say that selling this concept to a Melbournian well versed in the attributes of Royal Melbourne, Kingston heath, Victoria etc is like selling ice to eskimos.
The bunkering just did not do it for me with most being way to shallow to evoke that sand belt “feel”...
Forgetting the name tag and concept for the moment, Sandbelt Trails is a pleasant course in good condition.
A couple of the shorter par 4's in 3, 7, and 13 were quite interesting, but all the par 5's seem similar too me, bar the shorter 18th hole which features water up near the green. The longer par 4 6th hole with water in play for the approach shot was the best hole on the course.
There are probably hundreds, if not thousands of well maintained pleasant courses this standard in Asia and tropical locations around the world. Unfortunately Sandbelt Trails will not feature on best course lists, nor will you see pictures of the course in magazines. The day after you play the course you may well struggle to remember any of the holes- it is all pleasantly unremarkable, and not worth travelling any distance to play in my opinion.
If you are intending to stay at Mission Hills Haikou other courses would be preferred, or you could use Trails as a warm up course
The Travelling Golfer