Situated on the southern shores of Hainan Island, Tom Weiskopf and his associate Phil Smith designed the 36-hole golf development at Shenzhou Peninsula with many of the fairways on the two 18-hole layouts set out beside the South China Sea.
The West course at the Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula opened first in 2010, two years ahead of the East, and both courses were constructed in such a way that a composite course can easily be configured for future tournament play.
Shenzhou Dunes was built on the site of an old watermelon plantation, occupying a formerly featureless landscape that was extensively shaped to fashion rolling fairways and elevated greensites in amongst the man-made sand dunes.Bunkering is a particularly strong feature on the West course, exemplified at holes 16 and 17 next to the shoreline, where sand from the beach was used to form bunkers and add movement to the fairways.
Granted Shanqin Bay is pretty tough act to follow, about an hour South of it is a Tom Weiskopf design on a great stretch of sandy soil called The Dunes. The look of the property and its location is enough to get one quite excited about what lies ahead. Unfortunately, the course hardly lives up to this expectation. I imagine for many architects this would be a dream site yet the result here is a bit of a missed opportunity. Visually the course is lined with sandy waste areas, which is attractive, the ocean is always a plus and there are some interesting natural rock formations. The routing is a very typical of a resort course, not much is memorable and much of it simply blends in. Is it fun, sure all golf is fun but it’s not really compelling, the greens and surrounds really let it down. Maintenance wise the greens were running about 7 and on fairly flat greens that is just kind of boring. So even though the fairways where mainly left relatively flat for the most part, hit the fairway and you have a perfectly flat lie, once you hit the greens the little interest is basically over. The bunkers are well done and fun to play out of but the rest could easily be far better.
If I had to guess I would say this is also the reason they don’t market the course outside of China for the most part. The location is interesting, it’s accessible, with a little work the course could really be a standout and draw in a lot of international tourism from Asia/Australia etc but they are missing the boat here. Too bad, and in all fairness it’s hard to understand their choice in terms of the design project here. Again it’s golf and golf is fun, but to take such a great site and make it into something so average is a real disappointment in my book.