The Sky 72 name tag indicates the number of holes that are available at one of South Korea’s largest golf facilities. The 18-hole Hanul course and the 54-hole Bada complex (featuring the 18-hole Ocean, Lake and Classic layouts) opened for play in 2005 and golfers using either venue enjoy the use of a separate clubhouse.
Laid out next to Seoul’s international airport, the courses are also supported by an enormous 300-bay floodlit driving range and short game area. Steve Nicklaus, son of the famous Golden Bear, designed the Ocean course and it has attracted several high profile golf tournaments since it allowed paying customers onto the fairways.The LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship, previously hosted by Nine Bridges Golf Club and Mauna Ocean Golf & Resort, was first held on the Ocean course at Sky 72 in 2008, when Candie Kung from the Unites States captured the first prize by one stroke from Australian Katherine Hull. It’s now a regular event on the Ladies’ Tour.
After watching the LPGA KEB Hana Bank event a number of times on TV, I had a chance to play the course while laying over between flights at Incheon International Airport right next door.
The layout makes great use of the terrain, rising up and over a gentle plateau on both nines providing views of the airport and of the ocean and islands just north of the airport.
Unlike other Asian courses at similar latitudes, the greens are bentgrass which is a huge plus when reading the greens while jetlagged. The fairways look and play similar to Kentucky bluegrass. Course maintenance was top-notch.
The course is strong throughout and doesn’t have any of the excessive rolly-polly narrow fairways that are too common in east Asia. One of the highlights are the true three-shot par 5’s, the 5th and the 13th.
Other highlights include the fishcake house on the 12th tee, offering free deep-friend custard-filled cakes molded into the shape of a fish, and the “wagering” bells on the later tee boxes that you ring if you are losing on your bets and need to press your opponents.