Developed by the Shaoxong Jian Lake Group, along with the Greentown China Group, the course at the Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Club was designed by Mark Hollinger of JMP Golf Design, opening for play at the start of 2012.
Located 215 kilometres south of Haiku airport, with fairways set out along an oceanfront property on the southeast coast of Hainan island, this 18-hole layout can play as long as 7,555 yards from the championship tees.
The course is grassed with paspalum from tee to green on every hole, featuring large sandy waste areas, wooden sleepered bunkers, palm trees and bougainvillea landscape plantings alongside the fairways.
Blue Bay is described as a “tropical links-style” design, intended to play firm and fast with the condition of its turf, and given the course’s windy location on the coast, bump and run approach play is the order of the day here.
Five editions of the Blue Bay LPGA tournament were held here from 2014 to 2018, with five diferent winners from five different countries.
The following edited extract by Mark Hollinger is from Volume Six of Golf Architecture: A Worldwide Perspective. Reproduced with kind permission. To obtain a copy of the book, email Paul Daley at email@example.com.
“It is worth recalling that, at the outset, few existing elements within this parcel of land were available for a golf designer. That is, with the exception of the nearby sea. We were up against it on various levels; almost no vegetation existed; the land was flat and devoid of interesting landforms; and not a drop of fresh water could be found. Most of the property was an unattractive saltwater fish farm, with big, ugly holes in the ground. The remainder of the site was bereft of visual interest.
The underlying and guiding design philosophy for Blue Bay was to create a distinctive, highly detailed layout; one that would engender an exceptional playing experience. We later termed it a tropical links. Early on, the commitment was made to lay out golf holes that evoked the feeling of seaside links-style golf, built in such a way as to corroborate the feeling of being among exhilarating natural sand dunes.
Assisting a links-style design theme, a key turfing strategy was established early on; use of an identical turf species throughout the roughs, fairways and greens – grown in a sandy, dune like setting along the sea. We discovered that a variety of seaside paspalum turf was well-suited for this soil, this climate, and for our use. To contour the course, the creation of interesting landform required the movement of almost two million cubic metres of sand.
Timber sleepers were used as a stabilising and visual feature on many of the bunkers. Reddish-coloured local sand was used in all the bunkers, which, in combination with the natural blonde-coloured sandy waste areas found on many holes, created an important visual stimulus. We included lakes to complement the South China Sea. Water was used to provide a cooling, peaceful element to offset the hot, natural setting; today, this ensures that a special, relaxed feeling prevails throughout the resort.
Thousands of interesting foliage trees, providing shade and framing, were planted around and along the golf holes. Many different types of palm trees that add tropical vertical form were planted, as well as a vast number of tropical shrubs and ground covers. Thousands of long, wispy grasses were scattered throughout the course (and) tonnes of natural Hainan volcanic stone was introduced along lake edges, on low walls and as a decorative feature throughout the golf course.”
The course appeared in The Rolex World’s Top 1000 Golf Courses with the following edited narrative extract:
“The Dragon course at Lake Hill, a 70-minute drive from Shanghai, is among the longest courses in eastern China. But while this alone is enough to strike fear into the hearts of most amateurs, anyone considering a visit should not be put off. his might be a full-bore championship course, but with five sets of tees for each hole there is something for all levels of golfer.
Lake Hill is to be found close to the Qiantang River, famous for having the world’s largest tidal bore, and everything here is on a grand scale. Landing areas are wide, raised greens highly contoured, but it’s the enormity of the bunkering that catches the eye. Huge swathes of brilliantly white sand are everywhere, presenting visually striking hazards, obviously best avoided, but never spoiling the fun of a round at the Dragon.”