The golfing facilities on the island of Kau Sai Chau, which were developed by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, were designed to relieve some of the unfulfilled demand for golf in the territory. Due to the scarcity and price of land, Hong Kong runs an enormous golf deficit with China's Southern province of Guangdong. The imprimatur of the Jockey Club as its parents guaranteed a fiscally sound, efficient enterprise but it will surprise some to discover such well designed and well run golf courses.
The better by far of the two original courses is the North Course and it is a remarkably chewy test, not just in golf terms but physically as well as it is a walking course laid out on a very hilly landscape. From its point on the west coast of this uninhabited island, it looks back to a section of Hong Kong's New Territories, most of which is preserved as country park and therefore devoid of any development. From its high points you can see the Kowloon hills and the peaks of Hong Kong island behind them. The course offers some of the most expansive, and to an overseas visitor surprising, views of Hong Kong available.
Another, shorter, course exists (The South) and a third, completed in 2008 called the East, is located on the other side of the island which features tremendous elevation and some spectacular sea views.
There are many good golf holes on the North course and every round will throw up a bagful of challenging shots, mainly from the tees. The 1st hole is a par 5 that presses a strategy on the golfer. Longer hitters will want to fly the lake and rough on the right but err to safe to the left and you can end up stymied or worse. The short par 4 2nd has a links land feel, again presenting an alignment challenge from the tee. The 3rd is one of the toughest par 3s in the region. Normally played in a cross-wind, you play across a daunting chasm from which no ball returns to a green built out on the side of a hill with sharp run offs on three sides. Experience relates that the percentage approach is probably to aim left of the green itself, especially when the left to right wind is in force. Only on the left is there any bail out option at all. From the 3rd green you then yomp sharply uphill to the 4th tee. By the time you get there you realise the point of Gary Player's two finger push-ups. The tee shot at this dog leg hole again presents an alignment challenge. You are tempted left to cut the corner but the better strategy is to aim close to the right edge of this fairway.
The 5th is a visually challenging hole as well. Many will be put off by the requirement to clear a ravine and drive sharply uphill. The hole looks innocuous from the card, 348 yards at its longest, but the combination of playing steeply uphill into a headwind, makes a par difficult. And so on. The short par 4 6th will tempt many into erring on the right. The par 3 7th looks easy on the map but is normally into the wind and pin positions on the left are difficult to access. Many miss the fairway on the left of the par 5 8th despite the abundance of room on the right.
If the back nine is not quite as taxing from the tee, it is only by a slim margin. The downhill 10th which was built as a par 5 but converted into a 4 requires a tee shot aimed more left than caution would advise. The 11th is an unusually difficult uphill par 3, again normally into the wind. The view from the tee at the par 5 12th offers two skinny necks of land either side of a gravestone and a bunker and across a carry.
The most memorable view on the course is without doubt that from the tee of the 14th. You play from a raised tee across a watery inlet to a peninsula green with sharp fall offs on three sides. Reaching the green in the battling breezes is the larger part of the story but a 3 is never easy as the surface is canted sharply from back to front.
Hopefully there is enough left in the tank to climb the hill that leads to the 15th tee and complete the closing quartet of holes. The North Course at Kau Sai Chau is one of the best public golf courses in the region outside Australia and New Zealand
The above passage is an extract from The Finest Golf Courses of Asia and Australasia by James Spence. Reproduced with kind permission.
The Par 3 210-yard 11th is intimidating because bushes on the both sides reduce the fairway in front of the green. Furthermore you need to hit a precise shot because five bunkers guard the green. This hole is not only difficult but also spectacularly beautiful. It is as if you are not playing a golf course, it has the illusion of standing in a great natural setting. The Par 3 205-yard 14th not only has breathtakingly beautiful scenery, but it's also a highly demanding hole. The green, which is surrounded by the ocean on three directions, is wide and there are steep slopes, which may make the ball roll down to hazards if you are unlucky, both in the front and at the back of the green. The safe landing area is only 30 yards long. Besides, the green is more than 20 meters (65 ft.) lower than the tee, so the tee shot is greatly influenced by the sea wind. You might have a high score unless you hit accurately with the right club. There is an old saying “there is no rose without a thorn”, which also describes this hole. Artificial island greens are usually beautiful but this island green superbly uses the natural terrain and is exceptionally pretty. To read more about the North course at Kau Sai Chau Golf Club, click here to visit my website.