Surprisingly, the World Cup course at Mission Hills – the world’s largest golf club – is no longer playing host to the World Cup. The distinction now goes to the course that Ollie built, his inaugural signature design.
The Olazábal course at Mission Hills held its third World Cup in 2009 and it’s one of the most challenging layouts at the gargantuan multi-hole Mission Hills Golf Club.
The course of the two-time Masters champion opened for play in 2003 and Ollie’s 7,300-yard layout is routed across undulating ground which features significant changes in elevation and more than 150 bunkers. It winds its way though Shenzen’s lush, tropical jungle and some breathtaking vistas of the surrounding countryside are reward for some hard walking.
The 2007 Mission Hills World Cup closed with drama when Scotland defeated America on the third sudden-death playoff hole and Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson beat the Spanish pairing of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Pablo Larrazabal in 2008. In the 2009 World Cup of Golf, brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari held off the challenge from Sweden to secure Italy's first victory in the team event.
Mission Hills Golf Club can now hold claim to being the most used World Cup venue with the fabulous Olazabal course pushing the World Cup course – designed by Nicklaus and venue for the 1995 event – out of the spotlight.
The Par 5 580-yard 15th is a signature hole. The view from the tee is breathtaking for both playing and scenic beauty. The tight fairway is a dogleg to the left and further to the left around an enormous reservoir. Water guards a series of bunkers all the way to the green. The second shot has two options: First laying up short of the creek 150 yards in front of the green and leaving an approach shot of about 170 yards over water. In this case an accurate middle iron shot is required. The second option is to clear the creek with a fairway wood, then you can use a short iron or a wedge on the approach shot and the water doesn’t come into play so much. However, the second fairway shot should be long and precise, otherwise you could be in the bunkers guarding both sides of the fairway or in the lake on the left side of the fairway. The green has some interesting contours, so putting is also demanding. The hole has 24 bunkers and I think that all the bunkers on the course are strategically placed and provide the course with a charming appearance, while some others think the bunkers are too artificial and look rather Mickey Mouse. There are pros and cons. I am looking forward to hearing form readers’ comments on the bunkering.
My most favorite is the Par 4 460-yard 18th, which is a long dogleg to the left with the green swung further to the left. It’s a very demanding and intimidating hole. Water comes into play from the tee to the green and rock walls support the edge of the fairway. The tee shot is over water and you are tempted to cut off the dogleg in order to avoid the very long second shot. However, if you drive from right to left too much your ball could disappear into water. The second shot is to hit onto the peninsula shaped, slightly elevated green, protruding into the lake. It is guarded by water on the left and by a bunker on the right. If in any doubt about reaching the green in two, then playing short of the bunker is the safe option. Make par here, you'll feel ready to celebrate. To read more about The Olazabal course at Mission Hills Golf Club, click here to visit my website.