Robert Trent Jones Jr. has designed several courses in South Korea, including the 1997 renovation at Anyang Country Club, but his creation at Rainbow Hills Country Club sufficiently moved the architectural guru to write a poem…
Round and round we go
The fairway meander
In summer full joy in the long daylight
So all year we play and play
When we stroke the ball
It’s quite possible we may have lost something in translation, but watch out, there may be a Poet Laureate in the making.
Rainbow Hills has aspirations, big aspirations, according to their marketing: “Aiming to be the Augusta National Golf Club of Korea, someone should lead the world. Finally, there should be one of the world’s best golf clubs in Korea.”
There’s no doubt that everything about Rainbow Hills is top quality. The holes are routed across a massive 820-acre site, fairways are carpeted with the best Kentucky bluegrass and the rough is planted with fescue. The highly regarded Dongbu Corporation built the course and also the clubhouse, which was designed by foremost architects Marsh & Associates, Inc. who are based in Denver, Colorado.
The South and East loops form the premier configuration, although the West loop at Rainbow Hills is hardly inferior. The property is set at altitude, some 2,200 feet above sea level, and the East circuit is very much in the hilly, mountain style with significant elevation changes. The South, on the other hand, is much wider, longer and way less severe.
The 448-yard par four 2nd hole on the South is noteworthy. A multi-level water hazard separated by stepped ponds flanks the left side of the hole, which has a split fairway. A carry of around 220 yards is required should you be heroic enough to take the direct route over water to the second fairway, otherwise play to the right hand fairway, which will leave a much longer uphill approach. Most golfers will play this hole as a three shotter from the safer, right hand fairway.
You may well be flummoxed by the question mark-shaped par four 3rd hole on the East loop. It’s the prettiest hole at Rainbow Hills and again you are offered two options off the tee. The fairway is set nearly 200 feet below the tee boxes and the safe route plays around the right of the question mark. The bold tee shot will aim for the peninsula-shaped fairway which has water right and water left. If you can hit the fairway promontory you’ll be left with an easy wedge into the green. If you take the wide route round, you’ll be hitting over the edge of the water with a longer approach shot. It’s a great hole that’s not only exciting to play but also the view heading down the mountain is jaw dropping.