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Mission Hills Golf Shenzen China


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Faldo and Olazabal Course
I just got back from Asia, where I played at Mission Hills in Shenzen. Without a doubt, when we were on the courses themselves, we had a great time, but I have mixed feelings about the resort as a whole -- possibly because my expectations were too high. Let's start w/ the pros:

- There are 12 courses to choose from
- The accommodations were 5 star quality: spacious rooms, comfy beds, sitting area inside the room, nice bathroom w/ separate shower and bath, balcony overlooking the golf course, large pool, nice fitness facility, numerous restaurants on site, attentive staff who spoke decent english, detailed landscaping throughout the resort, chic decor in the lobby and bars and restaurants
- Hilly terrain that allows for many downhill tee shots
- Marshalls on just about every hole, so pace of play stays near 4 hrs to complete the round, despite the many, shall we say, 'new golfers'
- Even though they require carts to stay on path all the time, the caddies make it easy to navigate the course
- Bar none, the best thing about Mission Hills are their caddies. These girls, late teens to early 20s, are usually from the provinces and live in dorms nearby. Their only pay are the tips, about RMB$100 or US$15. They work 6 days a week and get 1 loop per day. They go out of their way to make your experience fun filled. When I hit it on the green in regulation, no matter where it is on the green, my caddy would say, "Great shot. Birdie time." When I hit it in the trees, they'll say, "Sayonara. Try again." They knew the yardages cold, saved me several strokes w/ these tips, but their ability to read greens and line up my ball helped me putt better than normal. "Left to right, saar. Two balls. Uphill putt, saar." If you play the Faldo, ask for Tina (caddy #06047A) or Rainbow (caddy #07048A). Both were extremely knowledgeable and had surprisingly good english skills.

- quite expensive, we paid over US$200/round, more if you want to play the premium courses (Olazabal, Norman). This is in addition to the rooms.
- cannot bring a non-golfer on the course or you will have to pay the additional green fee. Not only that, they make the non-golfer rent clubs, even if he/she doesn't play.
- we wanted to wear our tennies and they said we had to rent golf spikes, which is silly b/c golf spikes will do much more damage than tennies. So, OK, we rent them, but these shoes are so old w/ no insole, they felt like loose kung fu shoes w/ laces. Not easy to swing freely in these.
- rental clubs were Callaway knockoffs w/ 'Mission Hills' engraving, graphite shafted. No choice but to play w/ subpar clubs.
- Although the layout was fun w/ lots of undulation, the design is similar from course to course, as if the same person designed them all. Not much variety b/t courses.
- When you see pictures w/ so much lushness, it looks like it's well manicured, but the fairways were damp and wet. I don't think any of my tee balls rolled more than 3 yds. Mud balls are a given. Greens were sandy and slow, felt like I was putting in the 1st cut of fringe. Bunkers were nice and fairly consistent however.
- Conditions are dilapidating. There are 2 sides to Mission Hills: Shenzen was 1st built and Dongguan is the newer side. The Faldo is the older development and now that all the surrounding real estate has been sold, they have let the conditions on the courses go downhill. The Olazabal course is in the newer Dongguan side and although the conditions were much better, it still was not worthy of a US$200+ courses stateside.
- Even though there are 12 courses, there is only one main clubhouse from where golfers must take a shuttle bus to their appropriate course, which will require an additional 15-40min. End of the day, all the golf bags are sent back to this clubhouse, so there's quite a traffic jam. Just not efficient.
- If you want to hit balls on the range, that's US$8 extra (on top of the $240 green fee), but don't expect to find any tees or even a wiping towel on the range.
- Very tough to get in touch w/ the Mission Hills staff to ask questions about their packages before you go. If you want to play 2 rounds and stay one night, it's not possible. You have pay for a room for each round you play. The staff is trained to go by the book, so there is no deviation from the rules, no doubt part of the communist culture. No one can make an executive decision.
- It's cheaper to play at Mission Hills if you use an outside travel agent than going directly to the resort to book your golf pkg, which makes no sense to me, but that's how it is.

Lastly, whatever you do, don't use www.golfholidays.com.hk, aka Golf Holidays Ltd located in Hong Kong. They make you pay in advance by bank wire, charge you extra for the premium courses, then call you the day b/f to tell you the course is unavailable, don't tell you about the added costs of bringing non-golfer, shoes, crappy rentals, extra time needed to be shuttled to the far off courses. But most egregious, we hired them to provide a private chauffer van to transport us from the Zhuhai border crossing at Macau to Mission Hills. They sent a driver that had never been to Mission before, so it took 4 hours instead of 2.5 hours. We missed our teetime and had to wait to be fit into the lineup. At one point, the driver stopped the van at a fork in the highway, right b/t the 2 diverging lanes. As cars honked and whizzed by, he was calling someone to figure out which way to turn. Lemme tell you, my life flashed in front of my eyes. When I called Taby at Golf Holidays Ltd, she had the audacity to tell me, "The driver has been to Mission Hills before. I would not send you a driver who doesn't know the way. He just doesn't remember." Whah?! The guy told us himself he had never been there. So buyer beware, pay in advance to Golf Holidays Ltd and take your chances. At one point, I demanded my money back, to which she said, "Good luck." I was literally shaking in anger on the 1st teebox. If not for the caddies and their great attitudes, there would've been no redeeming moments. Needless to say, it was not a good experience.

All in all, golfing at Mission Hills was a one time event for me. I will not make the effort to go back. The idea of playing at the largest golf complex in the world sounds good in theory but the reality is that they don't know jack about golf there. The whole resort is setup to sell real estate to the newly rich chinese, whose golf history dates back only to the mid 80s (when the 1st gc was built in China). It's overrated, to say the least. If you decide to go, I hope you have a better experience than I did.

Now for the pictures.
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  • 1 year later...

My experience there was a little different. I got the treated there by a Shenzhen company we do business with so I didn't have to mess with reservations or transportation. I didn't stay at the resort, instead opting for the strange and wonderful mini-city "Goodview" hotel in Tanxia, Dongguan. I played 6 of the 12 courses and they were all well maintained. Immaculate, actually, and this was once in 2008 and once in 2011. The caddies are indeed fantastic. You'll do a lot better with a "golden" caddy, they've got more experience.

I've played a few other courses in the area and found them all to be in great shape. Some courses are more challenging/interesting than others. One of my favorites was in HK - you have to take a boat out to an island where the HK Jockey club built a course for 'public' use. I say 'public' because there's a bit of a procedure needed to secure a tee time there. You'd be far better off having a local who plays there set you up instead of trying to do it yourself (near impossible, I imagine).

I'm heading back in a couple of months and will try to get in a round at MH and report back.

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  • 4 months later...

Agree with fatslice, have an uncle who is a member with access to almost all the courses, service was top notch and course conditions were pristine when I played.
Lots of fun, but rental clubs were a drag.....should've lugged my set over to play but didn't expect to play as many rounds as we did or else I would've.

Caddies were great, had a wonderful time. Granted didn't have to do any bookings or the like so....
The Golf island built by the jockey club was a great time as well.....quite a process to even play (passports/handicap cards/etc.) but quite the place.

It's been a while but I still remember how much of an all day event golf was over there....when you factor travel, round, a beer, and travel back you are gone pretty much the whole day. Makes me appreciate the ability to drive to a course, play my round, go up for a drink and be back home in under 4 hours.

No way you are going to sneak in a round before work or anything of that sort in HK.

Callaway GBB Epic 9* w/ Ahina 70x
Taylormade SIM Ti 15* w/ Ahina 80x

Srixon Z U85 18* Driving Iron w/ Ahina 80x
Callaway XHot Pro Hybrid w/ Ahina 80x
Mizuno MP60 3-PW w/ DG X100
Odyssey Black Series i #2
Mizuno MP-T4 52*, 60*, Vokey 64*

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