Located on the south side of Hainan Island, a mere 60 minutes by high speed train from Haikou, the 36-hole Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula golf complex was fashioned by Tom Weiskopf and his design associate Phil Smith.
The two 18-hole courses – West and East – were developed by CITIC Pacific Limited on a rather featureless tract of land that was formerly used as an old watermelon plantation and both layouts opened within a couple years of each other.
The West was first to be unveiled in 2010 and it seems to have garnered all the ranking plaudits since then, totally overshadowing its slightly younger stablemate. Frankly, this is rather a strange situation considering thirteen of the holes on the East are brought into play when a composite layout is used for competition.
It’s a pity that holes 7 to 11 on the East are excluded when the holes are amalgamated to form the 18-hole composite course because the long par three 10th,with a very large, triple-tiered putting surface, is one of the best holes on the property.
Another memorable hole arrives a little later at the 547-yard 16th, which literally touches the South China Sea. Here, a strategic split level fairway on the par five leads to a green on a small peninsula that falls off steeply onto the sandy beach.
Visiting golfers should note that caddies and carts are compulsory when playing either of the Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula courses but walking is still permitted, even with these restrictions.
Spectacular views give the players an exciting experience. Dunes landscape is dynamic and related to the existing nature.
The only thing I felt a little uncomfortable with is that fairways are very wide open all the way except on one hole on the coast side. It may be better to make the dunes come in to play a little more in some holes. Anyway I would like to send my best appreciation to Tom Weiskopf who is my hero in my young age and Phil Smith the architect.