The slope rating of the 10th course at Mission Hills is 150, giving the course a prima facie claim to be the most difficult in Asia. Greg Norman’s monster at Mission Hills was fully opened for play in September 2004 – 10 years after Mission Hills opened its first course.
You get a feel for how hard this course is from the card alone. For the very back (Black) tees, the back nine measures 3,707 yards and features two par fours of 486 and 485 yards respectively (the 12th and 17th) and a 644-yard par five (the 14th). Some of the carries from the tee are challenging – one measures at 260 yards… The next most striking feature is the gnarly fescue that has been used as rough. Mercy is a commodity in short supply to the errant here. Stray beyond the thin bank of semi-rough an the probabilities of recovery or even finding the ball slip away dramatically.
Norman and Harrison [Harley Kruse was the lead architect not Bob Harrison] have also introduced their distinctive bunkering. Many of these are very large with sharp fall offs to a crater-like centre and buttressed lips. The sand within has been flashed at the front so you get a view of their menace from the fairway. The effect is very striking and will improve with time as the turf around the lip matures and begins to curl over the banked sod.
The Norman Course was quick to be recognised as the best of the ten at Mission Hills and I’ve yet to hear a dissentient opinion from that assessment. It is large, difficult and visually arresting. For the time being it benefits from being located as one of the courses attached to the development’s second, more remote nexus. This means that the fairways are, as yet, some way from the centre of the housing development. It gives the Trent Jones Jr. course at Spring City in Kunming a good run for the title of best course in China.
The above passage is an extract from The Finest Golf Courses of Asia and Australasia by James Spence. Reproduced with kind permission.
The Par 3 147-yard 4th is short but challenging over a ravine. The deep green is guarded by a sharp drop-off on the right. In order to get your ball on the green, your shot must be precise since the green is very narrow (a little over 10 yards). The Par 4 486-yard 12th is a very long par 4 that has a slight dogleg to right. The tee shot must travel over the water and a carry of 220 yards is needed to reach the fairway. The second shot is gently uphill. There is a large bunker protecting the front side of the green. Players should try to avoid this bunker at all costs. Be aware that when you lay up on the second shot, the landing area is narrow. The green is small and elevated, therefore an accurate approach shot is needed. In addition, unless you can drive 270-280 yards, it is difficult to reach the green in two shots. The Par 5 588-yard 18th consists of a dogleg to the right with the downhill tee shot. There are two separate creeks that cross the fairway, therefore precise shots are needed to ensure that your ball will reach the green. To read more about the Norman course at Mission Hills Golf Club, click here to visit my website.